Identifying helpful management practices to reduce labor, expenses, and stress during lambing and kidding

Project Overview

LNE10-304
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $35,839.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Dr. tatiana Stanton
Cornell University Dept. of Anim. Sci.
Co-Leaders:
Dr. Michael Thonney
Cornell University

Annual Reports

Information Products

Commodities

  • Animals: goats, sheep

Practices

  • Animal Production: housing
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Input and productivity data for kidding and lambing systems are being collected through interviews and record collection from farmers. These farmers constantly identify increased labor and feed demands during lambing or kidding as primary barriers to farm profitability, expansion, and enjoyment. Intensive systems may be necessary to target year-round production or spring markets. However, systems for many farms are probably more intensive than needed. Detailed lambing/kidding data have been obtained from 18 farmers. Some farmers worked an extra 12 to 15 hrs/day during kidding or lambing in Winter 2009 compared to 2 hrs/day for other farmers with similar herd size, productivity, and mortality rates. There were noticeable differences in time spent on birth checks, artificial rearing, and transitioning dams and offspring from pregnancy to lactating areas. The occurrence of dam rejection and the success of offspring fostering varied widely. Data on spring/summer birth periods indicated that decisions about fencing choices, predator control, parasite management and prenatal nutrition had large influences on the success of pasture birth systems. Therefore, NESARE funding is requested to provide more detailed outreach resources than planned in the original project on management practices contributing to: 1) reduction of inputs during indoor winter lambing or kidding; and 2) success of pasture birth systems. Twenty of 30 farmers participating in in-depth record keeping and interviews about their lambing/kidding seasons will identify and successfully adopt birthing management changes that result in total savings of $60,000 due to reductions in labor and/or feed expenses without reducing reproduction or growth rate. Of 300 meat goat and sheep farmers who attend regional workshops on birth management practices, 200 farmers will agreed to have us contact them to track changes in their birthing systems for the following year, and 150 of these will make birth management changes resulting in 100 farmers reporting improved quality of life and monetary savings totaling $75,000 within the next two years.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Some of this project (2600 farmers received notice of the study, 177 farmers completed baseline questionnaires thus far, and 18 farms participated in interviews and record keeping for the winter, spring, summer, and fall 2009 birth management seasons) has already been done.

    Spring/Summer 2010 – 2000 farmers receive by mail notice about the project and baseline questionnaires for the 2010 kidding and lambing seasons. 150 farmers return questionnaires.

    Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall 2010 – 15 case study farmers keep detailed records for kidding or lambing seasons and provide input on effects of changes they are implementing and farm protocols they suggest should be video-taped or described in writing to share with other farmers.

    Summer/Fall 2010 – ?60 farmers participate in 3 regional workshops on birth management systems, fill out “before” questionnaires, and are asked for permission to follow up with them. Some farmers that plan to initiate changes in their birth management practices are selected to be case study farms for the 2011 birth management seasons.

    Summer/Fall 2010 – ?100 farmers gain access to the initial fact sheets and video streams on reduced input management practices for kidding or lambing seasons, and provide feedback.

    Spring/Summer 2011 – 2000 farmers receive by surface mail a report of study results to date and baseline questionnaires for 2011. 150 farmers return questionnaires. Past workshop attendees participate in “after” questionnaires/phone interviews on the impact of the project.
    Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall 2011 – 15 case study farms keep detailed records for kidding or lambing seasons and provide input on effects of changes implemented and farm protocols they suggest should be video-taped or described in writing to share with other farmers.

    Summer/Fall 2011 – ?60 farmers participate in 3 regional workshops on management systems, fill out “before” questionnaires, and are asked for permission to follow up with them. Some are selected as case study farms.

    Summer/Fall 2011 – ?100 farmers gain access to more video streams on lambing or kidding systems that improve efficiency and to a first draft of a “best practices” manual on transitioning to less intensive systems. Farmers provide feedback on what is helpful and what is not.

    2012 – 30 case study farms provide follow-up information on the effects of birth management changes on herd or flock productivity, labor inputs, feed costs, and stress. Past workshop attendees participate in “after” questionnaires/phone interviews on the impact of the project.

    2012 – ? 100 farmers access final versions of a birth management system curriculum and written and visual resources on transitioning to less intensive lambing/kidding systems and use these resources to make changes in their systems.

    Performance Target #1 – Twenty of 30 farmers participating in in-depth record keeping and interviews about their lambing/kidding seasons will identify and successfully adopt birthing management changes that result in total savings of $60,000 due to reductions in labor and/or feed expenses without reducing reproduction or growth rate.

    Performance Target #2 – Of 300 meat goat and sheep farmers who attend regional workshops on birth management practices, 200 farmers will agreed to have us contact them to track changes in their birthing systems for the following year, and 150 of these will make birth management changes resulting in 100 farmers reporting improved quality of life and monetary savings totaling $75,000 within the next two years.

    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.