Sarto Sheep Farms
Sheep Sense
Manitoba Sheep Association Quarterly Newsletter
July 2017
Summer has arrived. The sheep may be grazing out on pasture, and hay-making is happening across the province. Summer also brings challenges to the sheep producer, such as flies, parasites, heat, and perhaps even predators. We hope summer brings a successful growing season for your lambs and that we may see you at some MSA events that are planned within the next several months. Please enjoy this issue of Sheep Sense!

MSA Chair Report
     This has been an interesting time for the MSA. Since our previous Sheep Specialist, Mamoon Rashid, with the Manitoba Government stepped down Manitoba Agriculture has put a Sheep Team into place consisting of Wray Whitmore, Rob Berry and Linda Fox. The Board has been very pleased with the level of support and interest that we as an industry are currently receiving from the Government and hope to continue along those lines with more involvement on both sides. 
     I attended an industry consultation on the Next Policy Framework (Growing Forward 2's replacement) on June 29th along with other  Agricultural and Agri-Food Organizations from within the Province.  There was a very good turnout at this event and I felt that our voices were being heard and appreciated. I look forward to seeing the results that come out of this when the Next Policy Framework is released.
     Planning for the upcoming Show and Production Sale is ongoing and we encourage producers to enter animals in the sale and to come out and support the sale if you are in the market for either purebred rams and ewes or commercial females. This year we are back in Carberry to make use of the great facilities they have there.  The MSA has now purchased penning for the show to avoid previous concerns about Bio-security for both the animals at the sale and the people that donated the use of their penning for the show.
     I would like to take this opportunity to invite any and all sheep producers to contact me to let me know what they think of the direction that the MSA is going. As with all things, communication is the foundation of an effective organization, and it is the producer that we represent. Without your input we can only make assumptions based off of our own information and that won't always agree with what you are thinking. So, if there is anything that producers would like to discuss with me personally you can contact me at 204-242-0925 or email to Your regional Directors are also all available and their contact information is on the website.

Thank you for your time.
Jonathon Nichol
MSA Chair

Upcoming Events
Show and Production Sale
Carberry Agri Grounds, August 18-19 2017
This year the MSA is once again hosting our Annual Show and Sale with a slight change of focus and a renaming of the event to showcase that change.  In an attempt to help our producers expand their flocks we have increased the opportunity for Commercial Producers to sell ewe lambs and yearling ewes in our Pens of 2 and Pens of 3 classes. These classes are not judged within the show ring but within their pens and will not be required to be presented as show sheep. All animals will still need to pass through the culling process. Hopefully this encourages more Producers to bring out ewes to offer for sale. This change is in addition to the regular show that has always been offered and hopefully many of the purebred breeders will bring out animals to showcase their stock.
There is going to be a Banquet Friday night with an introduction to some of the members of the new Provincial Sheep Team and we look forward to many of you joining us. For Banquet tickets or to enter sheep please contact Lee at or call 204-421-9434.

Farm To urs
This year MSA is planning to do a couple of farm tours in the summer, so producers can learn from other grazing and pasture management systems.  Locations and dates have not been finalized but will be soon. MSA will send out notices once these are finalized so you can put it on your calendars.

The AGM and Symposium
November 18, 2017, Portage La Prairie
Speaker details have not be confirmed but this year's symposium will follow the last year's format. There will be a nutrition talk, Vet presentation, marketing and a presentation on the result of the parasite study that has been taking place on Manitoba sheep farms, and MSA Annual General Meeting and round table discussion at the end. MSA will keep you posted once details are finalized.
CSF Report
by Kate Basford
With being the MSA representative for the CSF board for only 3 months, it has been a whirlwind of an experience  and I find myself being on a big learning curve to get up to speed with all that is going on in the sheep industry on a national level. It has been incredibly interesting!

First off, I would like this opportunity to thank Herman Bouw for being the MSA representative and his dedication for so many years and the various committees he sat on.  Herman kept us well informed of the CSF activities and national sheep issues as they arose without ever indicating what a huge commitment being on the CSF board is.

So what is happening with CSF and the National Sheep Industry?

A National Sheep Meeting with the federal government - Last year OSMA and ALP pulled out CSF and has since formed their own organization which has started much discussion and confusion as to who is the national voice for the sheep industry.  The federal government is process of organizing a two day meeting in August with representation from all provincial associations to sit down at the table and discuss the situation. As well, CSF has contracted an independent governance specialist to come up with a plan that all parties can work together and a sustainable funding model is needed as well.

SHEEP TRACE - The CSF submitted a proposal to AAFC and CFIA in February, outlining a proposed path forward in the traceability for the sheep industry, which would make CSF the program administrator. If this proposal is not accepted, then the sheep traceability program reverts back to CCIA as the program administrator which put puts control of the program, including costs, with the cattle industry.
MISUSE OF PAIRED TAGS - These tags are being found at inspection sites on animals individually, only one tag has the RFID clip and the other is only a backup management tag for registration of pure breds. CSF and the provincial association have recommended that the second tag have a colour change to eliminate the confusion. And, oh yes, there is a $1500.00 file for using the tags separately.
With the NAFTA re- negotiations on the table, CSF has requested that U.S. border closure to Canadian sheep be part of the discussion and the Federal government is interested in this discussion. The Market Access Secretariats is setting up a meeting to discuss the sheep industry interests in person.   CSF has provided formal comments to the public consultation in addition to the meeting.  I prepared comments on the Manitoba sheep export into the USA, prior to the border closing Manitoba use to ship 40% of its sheep to the states, along with export data to verify the numbers going down to the states and the market that does exist.

ALL CANADIAN CLASSIC MEXICAN DELEGATION:  June 28 - July 2, 2017   The CSF will be meeting with the Mexican delegation at the Canadian classic; what a great event to raise awareness, educate and developed business relations with the Canadian sheep industry and producers. This will continue to build on the relationships that were developed during the small ruminant section of the Canada - Mexico Partnership meeting held in November of 2016 and the Canadian delegation tour to Mexico Alimentaria in December 2016. I look forward to updating you on this meeting.

Looking for volunteer flocks in Manitoba for Parasite Study
If you have more than 60 ewes and would like to take part in a parasite research project, please contact Dr. Michel Levy or Dr. John Gilleard at the University of Calgary as soon as possible! 
"In the summers of 2014 and 2015, Drs. Michel Levy and John Gilleard from the University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine, have undertaken surveys of sheep farms in Western Canada to assess the level of parasites present. They also conducted more detailed investigation of anthelmintic resistance of a number of farms in Alberta by on-farm visits to perform fecal egg count reduction tests.  The results of this work suggests that many prairie sheep flocks have high parasite burdens and that ivermectin and fenbendazole/albendazole resistant parasites may be more common than previously thought in the province.
The Alberta Meat and Livestock Agency (ALMA) has approved funding for a more comprehensive research project to run over three years from 2015 and the plan is to continue and survey sheep flocks for parasites. In the upcoming summer of 2017, the researchers are looking to continue and survey more flocks in Manitoba. The project will look at parasite burden and at the efficacy of treatment at the flock level. Molecular techniques for identification of parasites will be developed. Detection of parasite resistance to dewormers and its evolution will be monitored over several years. Sampling kits and instructions can be couriered participating farms"

News Release

Glanvac 6 Vaccine [Clostridium Chauvoei-Novyi Type B-Perfringens Type D-Septicum-Tetani-Corynebacteriu ... m Pseudotuberculosis (Ovis) Bacterin-Toxoid] is now approved for use in Canada. Glanvac 6 is used as an aid in the prevention of caseous lymphadenitis (CLA or cheesy gland), enterotoxaemia (pulpy kidney disease), tetanus, black disease, malignant oedema (blackleg like disease) and blackleg in sheep and lambs and swelled head in rams.
Caseous lymphadenitis is a chronic disease of sheep. It is characterized by abscesses, containing a cheese-like green pus, in the superficial and internal lymph nodes (glands) and lungs. The disease is caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis (ovis) which gains entry through breaks or abrasions of the skin or mucous membranes. The disease is spread when superficial abscesses burst during handling or shearing with consequent contamination of the shearing floor, holding yards, dips and shearing tools. In a moist environment, the bacteria are able to survive for up to 8 months. It has been implicated as a cause of ill-thrift in ewes. Prevalence increases with age. Clean properties may become infected by the introduction of an infected animal.
Black disease occurs as a sequel to liver fluke infestation and can result in death. The use of Glanvac 6 as an aid in prevention of black disease does not protect against disease associated with liver fluke infection.

2017 Census Results
The latest census shows an over 40 percent increase in sheep flock expansion in Manitoba over the last five years. That is exciting news: Manitoba's sheep industry is growing faster than any other province!
Click here to read more about the census of Agriculture:
Read a recent Manitoba Co-operator article regarding sheep industry growth: Manitoba Sheep Flock Expands
Tagging Reminder
Please be reminded of all tagging requirements!
Inspectors from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have observed that significant number of sheep received at assembly yards do not bear an appropriate tag approved under the Livestock Identification and Traceability (TRACE) program. All animals that are transported must be tagged! Correct RFID tags can only be purchased through Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers. ( CCWG) If unsure of the requirements, please see our website for more information:  Tagging Information

Listeria: Sheep and Sileage
 By Rob Berry; Livestock Specialist Manitoba Agriculture

The initial cuts of 2017 forage have already been made and depending on how the weather did or didn't co-operate you may have had to settle on making silage. Feeding ensiled forages has always been approached with caution when it comes to sheep due to the risk of Listeriosis.
Listeriosis is a bacterial infection that primarily affects the nervous systems of sheep. The bacteria  (listeria monocytogenes) is common in soils in wetter climates and grows well under cooler conditions. Generally sheep at pasture will be exposed to this bacterium on a regular basis and will tolerate eating tiny amounts, however the problem arises after sheep eat silages that are improperly stored or heavily contaminated with the bacteria during harvest. The bacteria affects the animal's nervous system by crossing into the bloodstream through damaged tissue around gums. Sheep with compromised immune systems such as heavily pregnant ewes  or weaned lambs are particularly susceptible. The infection sets up in the brain and brainstem  and sheep will present with the following symptoms:
Early signs: listlessness, off feed, fever
Advanced signs: Circling in one direction, ears drooping, facial paralysis, drooling , unstable posture, dragging hind legs, abortion &  diarrhea (systemic infections).
The onset can occur within a week but more often takes 3 weeks after initial exposure for the bacteria to  incubate in the animal. If antibiotic treatment is given early and aggressively and at high doses then recovery can be achieved. Unfortunately  death loss is often high and there are further concerns as humans can pick up the infection by handling  aborted fetuses and manure from infected animals.
The best way of dealing with the risk of Listeria is addressing issues during harvesting and storing of silages.

Reducing the risk during harvest
Listeria bacteria are able to contaminate forages throughout the harvesting process. When looking through feed tests on your silages pay attention to the ash content. The ash in the silage comes from 2 sources ; the minerals in the plant (calcium, phosphorous, magnesium etc) plus external sources from soil contamination of the feed during harvest. Grass silages  with ash contents above 10% and grass alfalfa silages with values above 13% DM indicate the silage will have picked up significant levels of dirt during harvest which could contain the problematic  Listeria bacteria. 
Strategies to reduce contamination include:
⦁ Avoid harvesting lodged forage as dirt often sticks to downed forage when the soil is wet
⦁ Raise the cutter bar on the disc mower slightly if previous feed tests have shown high ash levels
⦁ Use flat knives on the disc mower as these generate less suction and are less likely to pick up downed hay and dirt
⦁ Keep the windrow off the ground. Start with a wide swath and place the cut forage onto dense stubble. The windrow should be high enough so that it can be raked without the rake touching the ground and kicking up dirt into the feed.

Listeria can only grow in poorly preserved silages. The bacteria is mostly confined to the outer surface of bales or tubes where air has entered slowly i.e. aerobic deterioration of the silage and ph has started to rise.
The best ways to prevent  this is to:
⦁ Use a minimum of 4 wraps of film per bale
⦁ Ensure that there is at least 50% overlap per wrap of film per bale
⦁ Don't ensile very dry or rank plant material
⦁ Make sure bales are or piles are compacted adequately to prevent air infiltration. The Bale should hold its shape and be well rounded.
⦁ Patch holes quickly in plastic  e.g. spike holes when moving bales.
⦁ If using tubes, it is best to store them on a solid surface. Storing on soil greatly increases the likelihood as contamination during feed-out .
Silages can perform well in rations as sheep find them highly palatable. Always visually check for spoiled mouldy silage and remove it before feeding as this potentially contains the highest levels of Listeria. 
 Effects of Pelleting Diets Containing Cereal Ergot Alkaloids on Nutrient Digestibility, Growth Performance and Carcass Traits of Lambs
By Wray Whitmore

Mycotoxins are produced by fungi and they have harmful effects on livestock when they are present in the feed. Ergot fungi refer to a specific group of fungi that cause problems called ergotism when fed to sheep or cattle. The presence of mycotoxins in Western Canadian grain has increased over the last 10 years. There have not been many studies on the effects of cereal ergot on livestock production. Some grain ergot is similar to the ergot that is found in tall fescue which many livestock producers are familiar with. Some people believe that pelleting feed may increase the toxicity of a feed containing ergot when it's fed to livestock compared to a mash.   

Researchers in Western Canada recently published a trial to study the effects of feeding two diet types (a pellet or mash) containing different levels of Mycotoxins (ergot alkaloids) to growing lambs. The diets were fed as either a pellet or a mash (ground with consistency of coarse sand) and the two diet types contained 3 different levels of ergot alkaloids; the control (C) @ 3 ppb, low (L) @ 169 ppb or high (H) @ 433 ppb. It's important to point out that the ergot alkaloids levels are measured in parts per billion which are 1000 times smaller than parts per million which is a very small amount. Modern technology has made it possible to detect very small amounts of ergot.

The diets were fed to the growing ram and ewe lambs were approximately 53.8% barley, 30% alfalfa and 16% canola meal. The lambs on the trial were fed from 24.6 kg to a finished weight of over 45 kg. The trial consisted of two diet types and three different alkaloid concentrations in each diet type.

The results of the feeding had lambs fed the pelleted ration gaining significantly faster than lambs fed the mash diet type and the lambs on the H diet had a lower Average Daily Gain compared to the C or L lambs. This trial did show an effect of high levels of ergot alkaloids on lamb growth rate and that pelleting reduced the negative effect of ergot alkaloids. Ergot can be a problem in livestock feed and you should do what you can to minimize the risk to you animals. You need to consider testing for ergot and getting nutritional consultation before feeding feeds that may contain ergot.

Predator Prevention and
MASC Predator Program
By Leah Bouchard
Summer means that many sheep flocks graze out on pasture. Although nice to have the sheep grazing freely rather than confined in corrals,   predators can be a serious problem for producers in some areas. Lambs can make an easy meal for coyotes, bears, and sometimes wolves.
  Preventing losses
It is important to implement a good prevention program. It is easier to prevent predator losses ahead of time than deal with it after your lambs become a regular source of food for a roaming predator.
Prevention can include many options:
  • Well maintained fences help sheep never start the habit of escaping and discourage predators from crossing into the pasture. Portable electric netting, page-wire and four strand electric fencing all work well for sheep.
  • Check the current of your electric fences regularly and making sure the current is at maximum strength. Grass and underbrush along the fence should be regularly trimmed, especially in the fast growing months of early summer.   
  • Guardian dogs, or other guardian animals, can be extremely effective protection if they are trained and managed correctly.
  • Location  and size of pasture can make a difference. Exposed, wide open spaces may be safer. Rotating pastures regularly and keeping sheep in an open area while lambs are especially young and vulnerable is a good idea.
  • Keep up with daily regular pasture and fence checks.
  • Night confinement is a possibility.
  • Noise, lights, or other types of deterrents may be other preventative measures. 
Predator Program-eligibility and coverage
If prevention measures are in place, producers are eligible for a MASC program which compensates for loss or injury of livestock to predators.
Livestock is valued at the time of death and up to 90% of calculated cost may be funded by Government of Canada and Province of Manitoba through this program. A maximum of $3000 may be paid to the farmer who has experienced the loss.
A carcass is required for a claim to be made. The evidence of attack must be preserved. If there is not enough evidence of predator attack, the claim may not be able to go through. If the sheep is injured, the producer must keep all the vet receipts.
  Making a Claim (from MASC website)
To make a claim for Wildlife Damage Compensation:
1.    For predation claims, ensure any animal remains and the surrounding areas are not disturbed. If possible, cover the remains with a tarp and preserve any tracks.
2.    Contact your local MASC Insurance office. Arrangements will be made for an adjustor to visit and perform a site appraisal. Claim must be made within 72 hours of discovering the attack.
3.    An MASC adjustor will soon appraise the site. If you prefer, you can make arrangements to accompany the adjustor during the site appraisal.
4.    Once the appraisal is performed, the adjustor will fill out an appraisal form and explain it to you. If you have no objections, sign the form to initiate the payment process. Do not sign the form if you don't agree with the appraisal. A second adjustor will be assigned to provide an unbiased appraisal of the damage.
5.    You should contact the Department of Sustainable Development for assistance in dealing with ongoing losses due to wildlife.
Losing livestock to predators is not a pleasant experience for any producer. Although always important to have prevention measures in place,  losses may still be inevitable. For more information on MASC predator program, visit:

Code of Practice--Fly-Strike 
This is a section out of the Canadian Sheep Code of Practice that all producers must comply with. To see the Code in its entirety visit
or contact your district's Director to receive a paper copy of the Code of Practice

4.4.1 Fly-Strike
Fly-strike is a serious welfare issue for sheep (30).  Fly-strike occurs when the eggs of blowflies are laid and hatch in moist or manure-stained wool and the maggots migrate to the skin and begin feeding on the flesh of the live animal. The maggots create painful multiple wounds, which, if undetected, can debilitate the animal to the extent that it eventually dies of shock, secondary infections and blood poisoning.
In Canada, there is no approved product to  prevent or treat fly-strike; therefore, producers must rely on sound practices to reduce risk.
An important skill is identification of fly-strike. Common indicators  of fly-strike include:
⦁ a small visible damp spot  severe irritation/scratching
⦁  biting or rubbing the hindquarters
⦁ difficulty keeping up with the flock.
The risk of fly-strike is influenced by weather, management strategies that impact the number  of flies, geographical region and individual animal parameters (e.g. wet conditions, dags on hindquarters, head wounds in rams and footrot).
REQUIREMENTS Sheep affected by fly-strike must receive prompt treatment. Producers must understand the basic biology of the blowflies that cause strikes. Producers must determine the relative risk of fly-strike based on: * predisposing environmental factors * predisposing sheep traits * relative risk factors (dags and long tails; wet wool in warm, humid conditions; footrot; open wounds) * the seasonal presence of blowflies. Producers must take steps to reduce the attraction of flies to sheep: * consider the risk of fly-strike in the risk/benefit analysis when deciding to tail dock (Refer to Section 5.7 Tail Docking for more information) * preventing diarrhea or treating it quickly if cases do occur and crutching accordingly * cleaning and treating wounds quickly * shearing animals before fly season. Monitor flock for fly-strike as soon as fly season begins and during prolonged damp and humid weather.
For information on treating fly-strike refer to: * Canadian Sheep Federation's Virtual Toolbox *

Recipe: Lamb Burgers

Makes 4 burgers

⦁  1 egg
⦁ 1 tablespoon water
⦁ 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
⦁ 1 small onion, grated
⦁ 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
⦁ 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
⦁ 1 teaspoon dried basil
⦁ 1 clove garlic minced
⦁ 1/2 teaspoon salt
⦁ 1/4 teaspoon pepper
⦁ 1 lb ground lamb 

In bowl, beat egg with water. Stir in bread crumbs, onion, vinegar, mustard, basil, garlic, salt and pepper; mix in lamb. Shape into four patties.
Grill over medium-high heat, turning once, until desired doneness, about 15 minutes.

In This Issue
Quick Links

Peavey Mart is a place of possibilities for your farm, your family, and your community. Find specialty farming equipment and supplies, and a whole lot more, every day.

Seeking Silent Auction Prizes!
 Manitoba Sheep Association is seeking donations of silent auction prizes, to be distributed at its Annual Show & Sale event in August, 2017 in Carberry, MB.
If you would like to contribute a silent auction item, please let us know by August 8 and have it sent to our address by August 15. Or, we may be able to arrange pick up. If you would like to take part in a more substantial way, please contact us to discuss sponsorship/advertising opportunities. Thank you!

If you would like to advertise in the Sheep Sense newsletter, please contact us for the options and prices.

Manitoba Sheep Association | (204) 421-9434 | |
5203 Clarence Road
Narol, MB
R1C 0B8