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Sheep and Goats. Sheep & Goat Overview. • Both originated in Europe and the cooler regions on Asia. • Both are important ruminants in temperate and tropical agriculture. • Provide fibers, milk, meat, and hides. • Versatile and efficient, especially for developing countries.

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sheep goat overview
Sheep & Goat Overview

• Both originated in Europe and the cooler regions on Asia.

• Both are important ruminants in temperate and tropical agriculture.

• Provide fibers, milk, meat, and hides.

• Versatile and efficient, especially for

developing countries.

• Sheep – numbers have declined in the

U.S. (less than 0.2% of total farm revenue in U.S.)

ovis aries sheep
Ovis aries: Sheep

• New Zealand, Australia, and Saudi Arabia - highest per capita consumption of lamb, and goat meat.

• U.S. consumes < 1 lb./person of lamb (boneless wt. basis).

• China, Australia, India, Iran and Sudan – leading sheep producing countries.


sheep and goats4
Sheep – Ovis aries

Tail down

Grazers close to soil (short tender grasses and clovers)

Distant and aloof

Distinct philtrum

Curved horns

Goats – Carpa Hircus

Tail up (unless sick)

Natural browsers on top of plants (twigs, vine, shrubs)

Curious and independent

Distinct odor as they mature

Straight horns

Sheep and Goats

Cattle, sheep, & goats are often grazed together because they utilize different plants

– Goats graze browse (tender

twigs & leaves from brush &

trees) and some forbs

(broad-leafed plants)

– Sheep graze short grasses

and some forbs

– Cattle graze tall grasses and

some forbs

  • Dorset


u s sheep industry
U. S. Sheep Industry

• 56 mil. in 1942; ~ 6 mil. in 2004

• U. S. relies on imports to supply limited demand for lamb.

• Most U. S. sheep growers have small flocks (50 or fewer) and raise sheep as a secondary enterprise.

• About 23% of sheep born in western U.S. are lost before they are marketed (predators and weather are main problems).

reasons for decline in sheep industry
Reasons for Decline in SheepIndustry

• Less demand for wool.

• Declining demand for lamb in consumer


• Increased difficulty in obtaining/keeping

reliable herders to manage flocks.

• Increased competition for public-owned


• Predators.

attributes of sheep ewe milk
Attributes of Sheep (Ewe) Milk
  • Sheep milk is highly

nutritious, more than cow milk. Vitamins A, B, and E, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium

  • Sheep milk: $ almost four times the price of cow milk
  • Specialized dairy breeds: 400-1,100 lbs milk/ lactation.
  • Ewes are milked once or twice per day.
sheep cheese
Sheep Cheese
  • Most of the sheep milk produced in the world is made into cheese.
    • Feta (Greece, Italy, and France), Ricotta and Pecorino Romano (Italy) and Roquefort (France)
  • The U.S. annually imports

75 million pounds of cheese made from sheep


  • Fresh sheep milk is rarely consumed
sheep breeds
Sheep Breeds

• Meat Breeds or Medium wool

– Mainly used for meat production

– Are predominant in the U.S.

– Include Dorset, Suffolk, and


• Fine Wool Breeds

– Highest quality Merino from Spain and Rambouillet from France, predominant breed in Australia is the Merino

• Long wool

• Hair breeds

sheep reproduction
Sheep Reproduction

• Breeding season occurs mainly in the fall.

• Estrous cycle: 16 to 17 days

• Gestation length = ~147 days (varies).

• Recommended breeding age: 1 yr.

• Multiple births are highly desirable (twinning).

• Weaned at ~ 3 to 4 months

• Other important economic traits include growth rate, wool production, and carcass merit (quality grade and yield grade).

jaw defects are highly heritable
Jaw Defects are Highly Heritable

Brachygnathism: parrot mouth

sheep management
*Sheep Management*
  • Clostridium diseases (vaccines)
    • Enterotoxemia (Type D) (Overeating Disease/ pulpy kidney disease) - Clostridium perfringins type D
      • Vaccine: Type CD - T toxoid: vaccinate ewes 1 month before lambing and 6, 10 wks lambs
    • Hemorrhagic enteritis, bloody scours - Clostridium perfringins type C
    • Tetanus - Clostridium tetani: vaccinate ewes 1 month before lambing/ tx with antitoxin during castration and tail docking
  • • Scours (E. coli) – ‘watery mouth’ in 2-4 day old lamb (Hygiene)
    • Prevention: Lambing barn sanitation and creating a clean, dry environment for newborn lambs
  • • Footrot – Bacteroides nodosus (animal's hoof); and Fusobacterium necrophorum (normal inhabitant of soil manure)
    • hoof trimming, vaccination, foot bathing and soaking. Zinc sulfate is considered to be the most effective foot rot treatment. Footrot is highly contagious.
  • • Soremouth (lambs) – contagious ecthyma, scabby mouth, pustular dermatitis, orf (most common skin disease in sheep and goats), zoonotic
    • Pox virus, vaccine (previously exposed herd)
  • • Parasites
sheep management14
*Sheep Management*
  • Management. Practices:
    • Feeding
      • Extra feed before lambing: 0.5-1.0 lb (per fetus) grain/day
      • Creep feeding: introduce young lambs to solids
    • – Tail docking, castration of males
    • Elastrator (pg 493): 3 -7 days old
goats capra hircus
GoatsCapra hircus


• Concentrated

primarily in India, and

China (other contributing

countries include Pakistan,

Sudan, and Bangladesh).

• Texas ranks 2nd

in the U.S. for total

number of goats.

goat milk
Goat milk

• Goat milk is also

used to feed many

other animals (most mammals

including wild animals) usually

they are bottle feed.

• Goats will fairly easily adopt

lambs and a goat will even jump

up on bale of hay to allow a foal

to nurse.

importance of goat industry
Importance of Goat Industry

• Most are found in developing countries

• Supply meat and milk

• Major by-product – skins

• Almost all of the dairy

goats in the U.S. are found

in small herds

goat reproduction characteristics
Goat Reproduction Characteristics

• Gestation Length – 150 days

• Estrous cycle – 17 to 21 days

• Age at puberty – 120 days to over 1 yr.

• Breeding age ~ 9 months

• Breeding season – late summer, early fall, or winter

• Adult size:

– 130 lb avg. for Does

– 160 lb avg. for Bucks

meat goats
Meat Goats

• Origin: South Africa, Middle East, and


• Boer goat: superior growth rate and lean

meat yield.

• Ethnic consumer market has the highest

demand for goat meat


• Meat Breeds: BoerGoat

– White with brown head from

South Africa

• Milk breeds: Nubian,

Toggenburg, Saanen,

Oberhasli, Lamanche,


– Heavy milk producers per

body size vs. cattle

production per body size

• Hair breeds for Mohair

(Angora) and Cashmere