Delmarva Farmer Columnists


Healthy hooves (March 3, 2015)

Shepherd’s Notebook

By Susan Schoenian, Sheep and Goat Specialist, University of Maryland Extension

Hoof health is an important aspect of sheep and goat production.
It affects the health, performance, and welfare of the animals.
Some sheep and goats have been seized by local animal control authorities for having overgrown hooves.
Hoof trimming can be one of the most tedious tasks associated with sheep and goat raising, especially if disease organisms are present.
It is a skill all sheep and goat producers should master.
The frequency or need for hoof trimming varies and is affected by many different animal and environmental factors.
Some producers trim hooves every few months.
Others seldom, if ever, trim the hooves of their animals. Once annually is probably most common in the United States.
Proper hoof trimming requires good restraint and the appropriate tools.
In small flocks of sheep, the sheep is usually tipped onto its rump (in shearing position) for hoof trimming. Sheep can also be restrained in a “deck chair.”
In small herds of goats, hooves are usually trimmed while the goat is in a standing position, while it is tied to a gate or held on a stand.
For larger flocks and herds, a tilt or turn table is recommended.
Necessary tools include a pair of (sharp) hoof trimmers, a hoof knife, a brush, and gloves.
Many people prefer the hoof trimmers with orange handles.
Garden trimmers should not be used to trim hooves.
For routine hoof trimming, a hoof knife may not be needed, but where diseases are a risk, the hoof knife is needed to remove crevices or pockets where manure may accumulate and bacteria can gain entry.
A brush is used to clean the hoof. Gloves protect the hands from cuts and blisters.
It is best to trim hooves when they are soft. The first step in hoof trimming is to clean the hoof and inspect it.
The tips are cut first, followed by the outer portions of the hoof.
The inside wall of the hoof and heel regions may also be trimmed.
When learning how to trim hooves, begin by taking very small amounts of hoof off.
When hoof trimming is complete, the bottom of the hoof should be parallel with the coronary band.
It is important not to draw blood when trimming hooves, as this can provide an entry point for disease organisms.
In the United Kingdom, overzealous hoof trimming is considered detrimental to controlling footrot.
Hoof trimming should not be done during late gestation.
Hooves with abnormal growth may require several trimmings before the hoof resumes normal growth.
Sheep and goats with excessive hoof growth or abnormal hoof growth should be culled, as there is a genetic component to hoof growth and resistance to foot rot.
Equipment should be disinfected between each animal.
It is not a bad idea to spray hooves with a solution of zinc sulfate.
Animals with diseased hooves should be kept separate from those with healthy hooves.
In one of my next columns, I’ll talk about the diseases that can affect hooves.

Report livestock losses, feed purchases, deadlines (March 3, 2015)

Keeping the Farm

By Calvin Parrish, State Executive Director, Virginia Farm Service Agency

Virginia and surrounding states have had several adverse weather events including winter storms and periods of excessive cold over the past month.
Reports of livestock loss as a result of the adverse weather events have been received.
To assist livestock owners with livestock death losses J. Calvin Parrish, Virginia Farm Service Agency State Executive Director reminds livestock owners and contract growers that the Livestock Indemnity Program provides assistance to eligible producers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather and attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the federal government or protected by federal law.
Adverse weather includes hurricanes, floods, blizzards, wildfires, extreme heat or extreme cold.
For 2015, eligible losses must occur on or after Jan. 1, 2015, and before December 31, 2015.
A notice of loss must be filed with FSA within 30 days of when the loss of livestock is apparent.
Participants must provide the following supporting documentation to their local FSA office no later than 30 calendar days after the end of the calendar year for which benefits are requested:
• Proof of death documentation;
• Copy of growers contracts; and
• Proof of normal mortality documentation.
USDA has established normal mortality rates for each type and weight range of eligible livestock, i.e. Adult Beef Cow = 1.5 percent and Non-Adult Beef Cattle (less than 400 pounds) = 3 percent.
These established percentages reflect losses that are considered expected or typical under “normal” conditions.
Producers who suffer livestock losses in 2015 must file both of the following:
• A notice of loss the earlier of 30 calendar days of when the loss was apparent or by Jan. 30, 2016; and
• An application for payment by Jan. 30, 2016.
Additional Information about LIP is available at your local FSA office or online at:
Additionally, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program provides emergency assistance to eligible livestock, honeybee, and farm-raised fish producers who have losses due to disease, adverse weather or other conditions such as blizzards and wildfires are not covered by other agricultural disaster assistance programs.
Eligible livestock losses include cost of additional feed purchased above normal quantities due to an eligible adverse weather condition, loss of purchased feed and/or mechanically harvested feed due to an eligible adverse weather event.
Eligible honeybee losses include loss of purchased feed due to an eligible adverse weather event, cost of additional feed purchased above normal quantities due to an eligible adverse weather condition, colony losses in excess of normal mortality due to an eligible weather event or loss condition, including Colony Collapse Disease, and hive losses due to eligible adverse weather.
Eligible farm-raised fish losses include death losses in excess of normal mortality and/or loss of purchased feed due to an eligible adverse weather event.
Producers who suffer eligible livestock, honeybee, or farm-raised fish losses from Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2015 must file:
• A notice of loss the earlier of 30 calendar days of when the loss is apparent or by Nov. 1, 2015; and
• An application for payment by Nov. 1, 2015.
The Farm Bill caps ELAP disaster funding at $20 million per federal fiscal year.
The following ELAP Fact Sheets (by topic) are available online:
• ELAP for Farm-Raised Fish Fact Sheet;
• ELAP for Livestock Fact Sheet; and
• ELAP for Honeybees Fact Sheet.
To view these and other FSA program fact sheets, visit the FSA fact sheet web page at
Also, we remind farm owners and producers of the key dates to keep in mind regarding the new 2014 Farm Bill established programs, Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage.
The new programs are designed to help producers manage risk and usher in one of the most significant reforms to U.S. farm programs in decades.
Dates associated with ARC and PLC that farm owners and producers need to know:
• March 31, 2015: Deadline for producers make a one-time election of either ARC or PLC for the 2014 through 2018 crop years;
• Mid-April 2015 through summer 2015: Producers sign contracts for 2014 and 2015 crop years; and
• October 2015: Payments for 2014 crop year, if needed.
USDA leaders will continue to visit with producers across the country to share information and answer questions on the ARC and PLC programs.
USDA helped create online tools to assist in the decision process, allowing farm owners and producers to enter information about their operation and see projections that show what ARC and/or PLC will mean for them under possible future scenarios.
The new tools are now available at
Farm owners and producers can access the online resources from the convenience of their home computer or mobile device at any time.
Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.
Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity.
For more information on FSA, please contact your local USDA Service Center or visit us online at