Sunday, October 11, 2015

More on the Cornell Sheep and Goat Symposium

The Cornell Sheep and Goat Symposium was much more than the necropsy workshop.  After the necropsy workshop we decided to split up and my daughter attended a pasture workshop; unfortunately she didn't learn much new information. I went to a sheep/goat skills workshop and learned how to tip a sheep (something I have been wanting to learn for a long time.)
Other topics covered included hoof trimming (I passed since I just trimmed all my sheep's hooves 4 days before), collecting manure samples directly from the rectum, giving boluses, ear tagging and tattoing, and a hay evaluation area. I was glad to get hands-on training in collecting the manure samples since waiting around for a sheep to poop is time-consuming and I wanted to make sure I didn't hurt the sheep. But really, collecting a sample was pretty much the same as doing a vaginal exam on my patients. And I learned that I will NEVER tattoo my sheeps' ears.

The hay evaluation segment was very educational. There were multiple samples of hay that had been analyzed for nutritional values of crude protein, total digestible nutrients, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and molybdenum. Calculating digestible dry matter and neutral detergent fiber (total structural fiber) were also covered. Surprisingly, the worst looking hay had the highest nutritional value.
So you can't tell how nutritious your hay is accurately without submitting samples to a lab for analysis. This link has directions to make your own hay core sampler using an old golf club.  I am not sure if the few sheep I have and the multiple hay sources I use would make it worthwhile to have the hay tested.
Friday was packed full of great hands-on learning. Saturday was more lecture oriented, but I was able to attend the hands-on worm egg counting workshop. The FAMACHA course my daughter and I took at Delaware Valley Ag College just showed how to make the slides. I learn best if I do something with someone explaining as I go. This workshop was perfect. My sample had 29 Strongylid eggs in the two sections of the McMaster slide which calculates to a total worm egg load of 1470 per gram of feces. Fascinating! There were also coccidia oocysts in my sample too. They also gave us a handy laminated page with multiple microscope images.

I think the worm egg counting workshop was the highlight of the symposium for me.Now I just need to get a microscope and some McMaster slides.

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