PROJECT CLOSED: Growth, health, and efficiency of early-weaned lambs fed in the barn compared with lambs grown with their dams on pasture

Worksite Location
CCE Lawrence County, Extension Learning Farm - 2043B State Highway 68, Canton, NY 13617
Project Dates
May 15, 2019 through August 14, 2019
Faculty Sponsor
Michael L. Thonney, Department of Animal Science
Other Campus-Based Mentors/Supervisors
tatiana Stanton
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Betsy Hodge
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

The ewes in the Extension Learning Farm flock lamb at the end of April/early May and then are put on pasture with their lambs. Normally the lambs are left with the ewes until they are 100 days old, but infection with internal parasites often slows growth or causes severe anemia unless the lambs are dewormed frequently. This experiment will compare profitability of weaning half the lambs by about 60 days of age, dewormed based on their degree of infection with Haemonchus contortus by FAMACHA scoring, and self-feeding them in the barn compared with the other half left on their mothers on pasture. Growth rates, health, lamb losses, labor and feed contributing to cost of gain, market price, and overhead cost of keeping the lambs on pasture longer will be compared to provide recommendations to lamb producers.

Roles and Responsibilities

The intern will be responsible for some sheep care (assist with feeding, vaccinating), helping with rotational grazing, data collection (weighing lambs, keeping track of feed consumed, health records), and equipment set up. Some data collection might happen after the student goes back to college in the fall; the staff could do that and send it to the student, who will work with Betsy Hodge and Mike Thonney to analyze and publish the results.

The student will have the opportunity to learn about other farm operations and agricultural education while at the Extension Learning Farm and to shadow professionals in the region. 

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

Students interested in livestock, nutrition, grazing, and marketing. Previous experience is not required as long as they are interested. Student should expect variety and be prepared to work outside and get dirty as well as enter data on a computer.

Benefits and Skills
  • Understand how to conduct an experiment, analyze the data, and prepare the results for publication.
  • Appreciate dietary effects on animal health and growth.
  • Learn about raising lambs, rotational grazing, and parasite control.