Students find course valuable

PIPESTONE, Iowa — "We felt that if we learned one thing, the money and time spent would have been worth it, but instead we have learned so much," say Jim and Myrna Smith of Elm Springs, S.D.

The Smiths have a 450-ewe flock in western South Dakota and attended the recent lambing course at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Pipestone. They have wanted to take the course for several years, but this was the first time it fit into their schedule.

Dale and Faye Jorgensen from Aberdeen, S.D., are familiar with the Pipestone program, but had never attended before. Now they are looking at returning to a farm for a working retirement. Sheep might fit into their plans. The lambing short course was helpful. That comment was echoed many times by sheep producers who attended the course Feb. 11 and 12.

Sponsored and conducted by Pipestone Lamb and Wool Program and the Minnesota West Community and Technical College, participants received an intense comprehensive education on many aspects of the sheep industry.

C.V. Odland, a veterinarian at the Pipestone Vet Clinic, presented a course on managing common lamb health concerns. She concentrated on the first three months of life. A good prevention plan is essential, she said.


It’s important to vaccinated ewes against abortions to get a live lamb on the ground, Odland said. Once that happens getting colostral immunity is huge. Odland encouraged the use of C, D. & T vaccination. Starvation is the biggest cause of death loss in young lambs.

"The most significant parasite problem is the Barber Pole Worm or Haemonchus contortus, so named because it resembles the red and white barber pole," explained J.L. Goelz, also a veterinarian at the Pipestone Vet Clinic. "This parasite is very, very small and can't be seen with the naked eye. It is "the" worm of sheep. Warm, wet weather encourages parasitic numbers. Worms can be controlled and are not as big of issue here in the north country as in the southern areas of the United States."

A visit to the Blair Hellewell sheep farm near Balaton gave participants a view of lambing in progress. Starting with 70 ewes in 1999, Hellewell and his partner now have 450 ewes to lamb. Their lambing operation was built on a shoestring, recycled lumber and other materials.

Susan Hansen has a dairy sheep operation in Utah.

"Lambing techniques are universal," Hansen said. "I learned so much to help me in my operation."

Fifty-six participants from 10 states attended the course. They came from as far east as Pennsylvania, as far west as Washington, and as far south as Georgia.

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