By Matt Reese
Since March of 2020, much has changed, but the value of Ohio’s shepherds learning from experts and each other has not. This year’s Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium will be in a virtual format to reflect what has changed in 2020, but the content of the program remains relevant for the many aspects of Ohio’s lamb and wool industries that have not changed.
“We’ve worked hard and diligently to get this program up and going. Unfortunately due to everything that is happening, we still wanted to provide an opportunity for our shepherds to be able to connect and to receive some of the information we traditionally provide every year at the Buckeye Shepherd Symposium,” said Brady Campbell, coordinator of Ohio State University’s sheep team. “When you take a look at our sheep numbers and membership that is passionate about the sheep industry, we rank among the top three in the nation according to the ASI. This is a great opportunity for networking and sharing information. At the conclusion of the symposium we will be holding our annual meeting for OSIA and also there will be an opportunity to share ideas and management practices and hopefully learn a thing or two from one another.”
The event will be held via Zoom on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020 from 2 to 5 p.m. The event is free but participants must register ahead of time.
“The focus of the program this is on feeding you flock year round and the sessions are packed with nutrition management information,” Campbell said.
Francis Fluharty — current Department Head of Animal and Dairy Sciences at the University of Georgia — will kick off the event with a presentation on address how to manage feeding programs. He will cover topics including feed processing, digestive upset, and observing animal behavior. Fluharty will also cover the importance of providing a consistent mineral and vitamin program on a yearly basis. With breeding season complete and lambing season knocking on the way, now is not the time to forget about those minerals.
Also on the program is Garth Ruff, OSU Extension beef cattle field specialist. He will be presenting on the topic of feeding wet forages based on his background in both forage and sheep production. Garth will review the how’s and why’s of harvesting and preserving wet forages and how to safely feed to small ruminants.
Additional speakers include Tim Barnes (OSU Extension), Christine Gelley (OSU Extension), and Campbell.
“For my PhD, I just finished up my last project on grazing chicory. We delayed weaning on some lambs and put them out on pasture and we also weaned lambs at 60 days of age and put them out on the chicory pastures. We monitored both the growth and the health status of these lambs. Chicory is definitely a forage that a lot of producers and researchers are not aware of. There is very limited information out there. It was incredible to see those lambs really hook into that forage base,” Campbell said. “We did not have a lot of rain this year. It was almost drought like conditions and the chicory did a really good job of persisting through that dry period. It was really resilient. The lambs did an excellent job too.”
The chicory was a challenge to get established. It was planted the previous fall along with red clover. The cool, wet conditions this spring did not favor either crop.
“We had a lot of winter annual weeds in there and it looked like our stand had failed. Once the temperatures turned around in the spring, though, that chicory really took off,” Campbell said. “Unfortunately the red clover did not germinate, but we did have a pure sward of chicory out there and it turned out really well. We had test run on forage analysis and it blew us out of the water in terms of the feed value we were providing. It is high in protein and also high in water and it was a really interesting forage to use. The lambs grew like weeds out there.”
The research showed there is clear potential for including chicory in the Ohio forge mix.
“It can be applied to lambs as well as ewes. You can manage it in an intensive program, moving fences daily to every three days. Make sure you are aware how the forage is responding. We wanted maximum utilization of this forage so we grazed these plants all the way to the ground. It did not look like there was much of this plant left. It was incredible to see how resilient that plant was because even after a couple of days of taking those sheep off the pasture, they rebounded quite quickly,” Campbell said. “We were re-grazing some of those paddocks in a matter 30 days. It is a forage that is high in quality, rich in nutrients, and high in water that rebounded quite quickly. As we continue taking a look at alternative forages, there is certainly a big opportunity to be able to incorporate these forage species into your daily management operations.”
Immediately following the Buckeye Shepherd Symposium webinar, the floor will be opened for the 2020 OSIA Annual meeting from 5 to 5:30 p.m. All in attendance for the symposium are welcome to join. However, only dues paying members will have their votes counted on election items.
After the conclusion of the annual meeting we will encourage all participants to join in the virtual Shepherd’s Social Hour, directed Christine Gelley. This portion of the event will allow shepherds to meet in an informal space to continue networking and sharing ideas on how to make our industry better for now and for the next generation. The Zoom link and password for this meeting room will be distributed during the symposium webinar.
Ohio Sheep Improvement Association executive director Roger High encourages members to participate in all aspects of the event, while maybe enjoying a delicious lamb dinner at home.
“The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association welcomes shepherds to join this year’s alternatively formatted symposium and will plan to welcome you back in-person to the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium at the Shisler Conference Center on OSU’s Wooster Campus on Dec. 3 and 4, 2021,” High said. “The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association invites shepherds of all ages, sectors, and regions to attend the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium on Dec. 4, 2020 to expand their knowledge of sheep nutrition and connect with their peers.”
Those interested in attending must register online by visiting https://go.osu.edu/ohiosheep to get to the Zoom webinar registration form. From here, all that is needed for attendance is a name and email address. Once completed, participants will receive an email with access information for the day of the event. Creating a Zoom account is not a requirement to participate. Event registration may occur at any point, even mid-session on Dec. 4. OSIA members, please register with the name that matches with OSIA records. The presentation recordings will be available for viewing on the OSU Sheep Team webpage in 2021. The webinar can be accessed either via computer or by dialing in on a cell phone or landline telephone.
Participants may also choose to attend the annual meeting exclusively by registering at the same site as the symposium (https://go.osu.edu/ohiosheep). The webinar can be accessed either via computer or by dialing in on a cell phone or landline telephone.
For those in need of help registering for this event, please contact either Brady Campbell at (740) firstname.lastname@example.org or Christine Gelley at email@example.com noble.osu.edu. or Roger High firstname.lastname@example.org.