Friday, October 14, 2011

"Eliminating the Effects of Footrot on Sheep Flocks in the Northeast"

How did I become a participant in this project: For about 3 years I have had issues with my goats hooves and my Cormo/Olde English Babydoll Southdown's hooves and a couple of lambs (lambs were treated and were fine after 1 application of store bought soluctions). There was more work involved with trimming hooves and applying store bought solutions that was not curing the adults with hoof issues.

I e-mailed Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner, from the University of Maine and she sent me to Richard Brzozowski, PH.D., Extension Educator, Agriculture, Cumberland County. After speaking with both of them, my understanding of this hoof issue is that the medicines we are using are not strong enough and we also need to rotate pastures where this "organism" is alive. Two weeks in each pasture, using 3 different pasture areas in treatment is important - so this organism will die? I believe I was also told all pastures have this organism. So I would think maybe spring and fall have our animals walk thru a footbath of Zinc Sulfate and detergent.

Richard asked me if I was interested in being a participant of the above project. Of course I said yes and he sent me all the paperwork, which I immediately filled out and he quickly called me back and explained the month long protocol of the project, which started October 5, 2011 at my farm:

Day 1 was very exciting. Tom, Richard and myself set up panels for all my sheep & goats, then used Famacha testing to check parasite level (none of my Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown sheep or Angora Goats needed to be medicated - amazing and I was going to worm them all)! This is another important study both Richard and Tom have been working on (medicate when necessary so animals to not become immune to medicines).

Richard and Tom set up machine to gently tip all my animals so their hooves could be trimmed and evaluated. I was taught how to evaluate and how to better trim their hooves - to look out for pockets and trim correctly to eliminate them. Again my sheep had "very little hoof growth, which all members of this team found really amazing and only a couple had pockets. Then each animal stepped into a 20% Zinc Sulfate solution for 10 minutes and Anne and Caitlin then drew blood for DNA to see if there are predictive markers of footrot resistance.

Members of this team were Dr. Thomas Settlemire, retired from the University of Bowdoin College, Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner of the University of Maine, Richard Brzozowski, PH.D., Extension Educator, Agriculture, Cumberland County, and Caitlin Minutolo, University of Maine (I believe an intern), and of course me Betty Stover, Shepardess, mom, fiber artist, apartment landlord, dog breeder, (I have more titles than they do. Am I bragging or what?).

We ended up with my Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown ram, Churchhill, with a hoof infection (he was not limping and I had no idea he had this infection - his pen is small compared to the pasture and when it rains it is very moist in this pen - maybe a top coat of gravel?), my Cormo/Babydoll cross, Whitety had scald and one of my Angora Goat does had footrot. Both of the sheep are now is a different pen together and I was told to spray his hoof in 2 days, which my husband did for me.

Day 7: October 12, 2011, 2 affected sheep and goat sent thru footbath.

Will Post Day 14 around October 19.

Thank you so much Tom, Dick, Anne and Caitlin. You don't know how important it is for me to have healthy animals to share with friends and know I am selling healthy animals. I would love to see more local Maine vets involved in this program so we all get educated in this area of HOOF health. Then again I am sure you will be sharing this study with all Maine Farmers/Vets once it is completed.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown Sheep - Halter Training

This white wether lamb is a Babydoll/Romney and the black lamb is an Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown sheep. We have just started halter training. What a lot of fun. My little guy Zoolou the white wether likes to lay down. Rachael is training Bagara who liked to hop around the place. I need someone to take pictures of all this action. Sunday they both walked around so much better. If the weather permits, we will work with them again at 5 pm. Knitting & fiber fun at 6 pm here at Spinnakees Fiber Farm in Augusta.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown ram lambs

These 2 beautiful Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown rams are for sale. I love their stocky little bodies and triangler heads. One one of them has brown patches on his head and legs. It's funny how the boys follow each other around. Last night they were all raising cain.

Spinnakees Fiber Farm - Natural fiber verses Synthetic fiber

Synthetic: Man made, not genuine, artifical, devised! Hmmmm!

Wool: The dense, soft, often curly hair forming the coat of sheep and certain other animals. I can remember my mother teaching me to knit. I loved the creativity of making dolls clothes & headbands. I remember never finishing a pair of mittens because I did not like the feel of synthetic yarn.

Angora: Long silky hair from Angora rabbits. When I started rasising Angora rabbits and made a pair of gloves I had no problem finishing them! I was hooked. I'll let you in on a little secret. Years ago, before I had my critters, I crocheted a blanket using synethetic yarn and wrapped it with raw Angora and I still use it today.

From there I started raising Angora goats then a number of years later sheep. Once you work with a quality wool blend there is no going back.

This is my newer blend of "Babydoll" & Angora. What a wonderful yarn. It is called a light Worseted weight yarn. Is it definately lighter but has wonderful volume. Hummmm. Use it in the fall and spring?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bond Issue LD 979 in Appropriations Committee

This is the bond issue for the proposed combined Plant and Animal Diagnostic Lab. The purpose of this bond is to support building a new, biosecure lab at University of Maine to improve what our currently separate plant and animal diagnostic labs now do. I would allow our animal lab to help large animal producers (like dairy/beef farmers and also horse/llama owners) and vets to diagnose diseases by performing diagnostic post-mortem exams on animals. It would also offer highly effective containment, helping protect people, plants and other animals against disease.

Our team here at UMaine Orono works with many types of agricultural producers all over the state. We offer services that aren't available elsewhere, and help the veterinary profession but also the farmers directly via service, education and consultation. I hope you'll be able to mention our connection over rabbit biosecurity, and the work we are doing with the sheep industry (

contacting your legislators about our Bond issue (LD 979) which is now in the Appropriations Committee.

Your legislator on the committee would be Senator Roger Katz at 207-622-9921 ( If you could phone or email and tell them you are a farmer, state your support and perhaps give a quick summary/narrate something about our contact or your experience with our lab/my speaking, it would greatly help our chances.

I look forward to visiting your farm (5-20... is that still good with you?) and seeing you at Fiber Frolic. Thanks! Anne

Anne Lichtenwalner DVM PhD
Assistant Professor

University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Dept. of Animal and Veterinary Sciences
Director, University of Maine
Animal Health Laboratory

5735 Hitchner Hall, Room 136
Univ. of Maine, Orono, ME 04469

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

German Angora Rabbits at Spinnakees Fiber Farm

This is Olga.

I started clipping her and realized I needed a picture first. So you can see some of her beautiful fiber kind of placed on top of her. Oh well. She gave me 13 oz of prime and 1+ oz of seconds and I don't keep 3rds. Can you image 13 oz consistantly every 3 months? I have been feeding her a cup of Poulin grain daily with a large handful of local hay every evening. I just introduced Dr. Cheeke's YQ+ to all of my German Angora's diet. It is for Gut and Respiratory Health! I'm also hoping to see a difference in fiber production. Where Olga gives me a perfect 13 oz (my lucky number) I'm wondering will I get more? I do have a young buck who is less than a year and was told to put him on the YQ+ and he should have no problem being registered next time I try. Will keep you posted as he was 5 grams short!!!

This is Olga nude. Do you think she would make Playboy centerfold?

I went to our annual IAGARB (International Association of German Angora Breeders) meeting this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I was taking about 3 hours to shear my rabbits and by watching Rosalie and Erin demonstrating new approaches I took a little over 1 hour to trim a rabbit yesterday! Ya!! Also, thank you Sheri for helping to adjust my electric clippers. So much easier shearing these guys with my Aesculap clippers for rabbits.

This is Olga not sure which way to go!

I also received a beautiful lead flower vase for highest producing fiber doe, which was Tasha, at the show. I can't wait to breed her as she is a beautful German Angora. I'll post a picture when she is in full coat and may one nude, if she isn't too shy!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Olde English "Babydoll" Sheep Shearer

This is Gwen Hinman shearing one of my Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown Sheep. Gwen is a tiny thing and full of energy and kindness. After she sheared my sheep she held them so I could give them each an injection of Ivermectin and an amount of pour on to be sure they have no bugs or parisites inside or out. The rest of the year I'll use my handy dandy microscope to keep track of intestinal parisites. Gwen then put the fleece on my shearing table (I use it for my goats when clipping them, another handy dandy contraption) that I put an old fence gate on to shake out my fleeces. I had no time to skirt my fleeces as she was so quick. The fleeces came off in a blanket, which is not easy with Southdowns as it is a very springy short fibered fleece. When you look at the fleece lenght it is about 2" long and when you pull it between your fingers it is about 3" long. Perfect if you spin using the double drafting method as this wonderful, soft fleece needs less twist to spin easily. It took Gwen about an hour and a half to shear them, and if my sheep had been more cooperative (I had them fenced in beside my shearing room to make sure they were dry and easily accessible to us!) she would have been done sooner. What a wonderful feeling to see all of your fleeces bagged and ready to clean and ship off either to a spinner or put into roving so I or another spinner can use this wonderful fiber. I put my lamb fleeces into roving so spinners and felters get the softest fiber. Tomorrow I start the cleaning process. Will take a picture to share of my dirty fleeces maybe tomorrow? Of course when running a farm that could also change. One thing never changes - Animals need to be feed each day about the same time. I go up the hill to my barn twice a day to make sure everyone is fine and clean stalls and feed all the critters. If a sheep is in labor, I make many trips or take my knitting and a pillow and wear my warm, zippered winter coverup. One of my family members usually brings me something hot to drink. Need to be warm and happy!