Fodder System for Wool Producing Small Ruminants

Project Overview

FNC14-981
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2014: $7,481.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Brian Willsey
Rockin' W Alpaca Ranch

Annual Reports

Information Products

Commodities

  • Agronomic: barley
  • Animals: bovine, sheep

Practices

  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Pest Management: prevention

    Summary:

    Project Goals

    Our goals at the beginning of this project were to reduce overall feed costs, reduce pressure on pastures, reduce worming expenses, increase lamb production and reduce or maintain fineness of wool for the animals we produce. 
    We found that we could in fact achieve all of the above goals. 

    • Our animals maintained their fineness (micron) while on higher-protein feed.
    • The higher protein feed allowed us to increase the health of underweight animals quickly as well as increased daily weight gain on lambs.
    • We were able to increase our flock size while keeping the same land usage.
    • We significantly reduced our feed costs.
    • We reduced our cost and dependence on chemical wormers.

    Introduction:

    Producers raising small ruminants for wool face challenges: increases in land costs and feed costs, reductions in prices for raw wool, inconsistent weather patterns and a reduction of effective wormers. Fodder production while utilizing dry lot for the majority of the year may help to reduce overall costs and overcome these challenges.
    Currently, our ranch has 6 AC available for sheep production. The typical land use for sheep is 3-5 per AC, allowing a maximum of 30 sheep. However, realistically with aggressive pasture management and rotation, the real number is closer to 18. Since we seek to increase sheep production, our goal is to utilize fodder production to allow higher numbers of sheep / AC.

    Project objectives:

    2015 Performance

    Increase lamb production:
    2014 9 ewes produced 11 lambs
    2015 11 ewes produced 20 lambs
    Due to increased lamb production, we marketed live lambs and sold the majority of our 2015 lamb production.

    2015 we reduced our feed cost by $76 / head 

    2015 we reduced our chemical worming by 75%, saving about $300.00

    2015 we applied minimal spring seeding for pastures, saving $1000.00

    2014 micron compared to 2015 micron had no significant changes (see attached spreadsheet). We did not have a reduction in micron count for alpacas on fodder as we had hoped. However we did notice an unexpected benefit - the demeanor of our animals were calmer than 2014.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.