Saturday, December 29, 2012

Blackleg in Sheep

Blackleg (c.chauvoie) and ,malignant edema (c.septicum) are other clostridial diseases that more frequently occur in cattle but can also affect sheep. Tetanus (c.tetani) is yet another clostridial disease that is always a threat during tail docking or when open wounds are present.

Excellent vaccines are available for these diseases if they are known to cause problems for sheep in your location. Clustridial vaccines with up to 7 or 8 antigens are available for use in sheep and can be used on the same schedule as described for enterotoxaemia.
Andy Karras - Karras Farm

Friday, December 28, 2012

Livestock Pinkeye (Keratoconjunctivitis)

Pinkeye is an inflammation of the surface of the eye and of the inner surfaces of the surrounding conjunctival tissue. This often produces redness in the tissue, hence the name.
Pinkeye may affect one or both eyes. Redness and swelling of the tissue surrounding the eye and excessive tears are noticeable side effects. Pinkeye is often caused by a Chlamydial agent, but may be caused by bacteria or mycoplasma organisms as well.  If left untreated, it may damage the cornea by ulceration; this can lead to permanent blindness. Pinkeye can spread by direct contact or via flies. Reported outbreaks have affected over 90% of the flock.  
Treatment: Tetracycline antibiotic ointment is placed in the eye everyday for several days. The Chlamydial agent in pinkeye is especially sensitive to this drug. Sever outbreaks may require the subconjunctival injection of antibiotics by a veterinarian to provide more prolonged treatment. If the lower lid rolls in directly onto the eye, it must be corrected by a veterinarian before causing permanent damage to the cornea.
Separate infected animals, reduce dust and control flies to reduce new cases.
Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Monday, December 24, 2012

Health Benefits of Eating Lamb

Lamb is a good source of high quality protein with 60.3% of the daily protein requirement. The meat also provides Selenium, a mineral whose deficiency is associated with asthma attacks. Lamb is rich in Iron, an integral component of hemoglobin and aids formation of red blood cells. The Iron form in lamb meet is easily absorbed by the body. Zinc is found in lamb meat as well and promotes a healthy immune system. Vitamin B12 is present in moderate levels and help to prevent a dangerous molecule called homo cysteine from harming the body. Vitamin B3 is known to protect against Alzheimer's disease, promote healthy skin and keeps age related cognitive decline at bay. More over, it retards the risk of developing  osteoarthritis by as much as half. Lamb is an excellent alternate meat for health conscience people and is a great source for "good fat" with lower saturated fat than most other meats.

Karras Farm wishes you all a very Merry Christmas.

God bless
Andy Karras
Karras Farm Inc.
dairy sheep - East Friesian

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dairy Sheep - Boils or Abscess

A boil or abscess is a localized accumulation of infectious tissue and fluid in response to a bacterial infection. The most common infection in sheep is caseous lymphadenitis (CL), which localizes in the lymph nodes.

A variety of bacteria may cause an abscess, but the cause (CL) is corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. It often causes multiple abscesses in the lymph nodes around the head, neck and shoulders. It may also affect internal organs, such as the liver, kidneys and lungs. It may result in chronic weight loss or death in extreme cases. Caseous lymphadenitis can spread between animals. When an external boil ruptures, the bacteria are dispersed. This can be a particular concern at shearing time.  It may take several months for lesions to develop in newly infected animals.  Individual abscesses can be lanced and drained or surgically removed. When Lancing or removing a lesion, you must exercise great caution to not further spread organisms to other sheep.  There may still be internal abscesses that cannot be seen or removed. Antibiotics are generally of little benefit as they struggle to penetrate the thick capsule of tissue that forms around the infected area.
Maintain fences, feeders and corrals to minimize injuries. Shear the youngest sheep first and take great care to not rupture any abscesses. A vaccine is available but it must be administered when lambs are very young to promote immunity prior to exposure.

The Karras Family
Karras Farm

Dairy Sheep - Cute lambs

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sheep Feed and Digestion

To understand how to properly feed your flock, you need to know a bit about ruminant digestion. Ruminants have a four chambered stomach as opposed to a single stomach like humans, dogs, horses, pigs and many other animals. When sheep eat grass or hay, the food slips down the esophagus into the largest chamber , a fermentation and storage organ called the Rumen. Sheep don't do much chewing as they forage, that activity comes later. When the sheep finds a quiet spot to rest and regurgitate the under-masticated vegetable matter, it will then do some real chewing or ruminating, before again swallowing its "cud" for final digestion. Even with all this rumination, the cellulose in fibrous plant feed is difficult to digest. Fortunately, ruminants have billions of helpful protozoa and bacteria residing in their Rumen that flourish on high fiber diets. These microbes produce protein as a by-product of the fermentation process, another perk for the sheep. Further digestions occurs in the Abomasun or true stomach, which secrets acids and enzymes similar to the human stomach. The basic components of a healthy sheep diet include water, forage, grain, vitamins and minerals.

Have a blessed Holiday ~ Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family

The Karras Family
Karras Farm


Monday, October 29, 2012

East Friesian Sheep - Nasal Bots

Nasal Bots are the adult stage of the female fly. They lay tiny eggs on the nose of sheep, then the larvae crawl up the nose and into the sinuses where they mature into large larvae. Eight to ten months later the bots come out of the nose, drop to the ground and develop into flies. While in the sinus, the larvae may cause severe irritation. Ivermectin products are most effective against the larvae stage but sheep may be repeatedly affected as new larvae migrate to the sinuses.

Andy Karras - Karras Farm

East Friesian Dairy Sheep
East Friesian Dairy Sheep Grazing

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Liver Fluke in East Friesian Dairy Sheep

The adult stage of this parasite lives in the bile ducts in the liver of sheep.
A very small number can pose a detrimental effect on the host. Larvae hatch eggs passed in the feces, but they must be ingested by a snail to move to the next stage of development. Flukes are usually found in damp meadows or wetlands where snails are present.
Prevention can be directed at drying up wetlands or fencing sheep away from them. Two available medications, Clorsulon and Albendazole are effective if given after the first of January when the larvae have developed into adults in the liver. After 2-4 years of use the number of eggs and larvae on the pasture should be greatly reduced and pose little threat. Continued use of these medications is necessary to prevent resurgence.
Have a wonderful weekend~

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Monday, October 8, 2012

Coccidiosis - Parasitic disease of the intestinal tract

Coccidiosis is an acute contagious parasitic disease spread between sheep through fecal contamination of feed or water. Strict sanitation and proper arrangement of feed/water containers will greatly reduce the probability of contamination. Lambs must be prevented from tracking manure into feeding areas. Coccidiosis in lambs can be very deadly. This parasite causes severe diarrhea, sometimes bloody, usually dark in color resulting in extreme dehydration or death.
We recommend frequent fecal checks to ensure healthy Coccidiosis free animals. At Karras Farm we feed our East Friesian dairy ewes and lambs pellet feed medicated with Deccox or Bovatec (lasolocid) continually to control Coccidiosis and improve feed efficiency. Ewes should receive this continually from thirty days prior to lambing through shortly after the lambs are weaned.
Have a wonderful Columbus Day and Thanksgiving to all our friends in Canada~

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sheep Stocking Rate

A number of factors are involved in deciding how many sheep can be kept per acre.

These factors include:
1. Soil type (rocky - sandy - clay)
2. Species of plant (grass- weeds - clover)
3. Rainfall or irrigation
4. Climate
5. Fertility of soil
6. Topography (hill - slope - marsh)
7. Pregnant Ewes - Ewes in lactation - Dry Ewes
8. Can pasture be rotated?

Sheep don't do as well when pasture is overstocked. Older ewes suffer most as their poor teeth make it harder for them to cut on overgrazed pasture. The short grass results in less feed per bite. Even teeth of younger ewes will suffer from having to cut short grass as more dirt and sand enters the mouth resulting in accelerated tooth ware.

At Karras Fram we estimate four sheep per acre off good pasture, with grade A hay and some grain in the winter. Poor pasture would cut the stocking rate in half with roughly two sheep per acre and supplement feed in the winter. If you are new to sheep farming we would advocate keeping the stocking rate low the first year to determine how the pasture holds up?

Wishing you all a fantastic weekend and good grazing!

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ovine Progressive Pneumonia

Ovine Progressive Pneumonia (OPP) is caused by a slow growing virus that infects lambs and manifests itself as a disease after the lamb has reached two years of age. It primarily affects the lungs and udder, but may also involve other tissues.

OPP causes chronic weight loss despite a good appetite; labored breathing; and a well formed udder that produces little to no milk. Opp can spread from older animals to lambs through the ewes’ milk.

Some producers have established OPP-free flocks, but this can be very difficult and expensive to accomplish. Don’t confine young sheep in close quarters with infected adult animals. Cull affected animals early in the course of the disease. A blood test can be used to determine if a sheep is infected, but may not be 100% reliable. A Necropsy is the only way to determine with certainty if an animal is infected with OPP. There is no known effective treatment for OPP and the disease slowly leads to death.

At Karras Farm, all our East Friesian Dairy Sheep are OPP- free flocks. We strive to produce the healthiest dairy sheep in the world.

Thank you,

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How To Detect A Sick Sheep

How to detect a sick sheep:

Detecting a sick animal quickly can prevent loss of life and the potential spread of disease to the flock.
You must become familiar with normal behavior of your sheep. You must also have quick and easy ways of catching sheep to access them if needed. Areas such as a feed corral work well. 

Signs of abnormality are loss of appetite or not coming to eat as usual, not ruminating and standing apart from the group when at rest. Be very concerned if a sheep is laying down most of the time when other sheep are not. Any weakness or staggering, unusual labored or fast breathing, change in bowel movement, wool discoloration or slipping, hanging their head over the water source or a temperature over 104 degrees can all be possible indications of illness.

The normal temperature of sheep ranges from 100.9 to 103 degrees (average 102.3 degrees). A veterinary rectal thermometer has a ring or hole at the outer end to tie a string for easy removal.

If it is necessary to catch a urine sample for use with the pregnancy toxemia (ketosis) strips or glucose strips for Enterotoxaemia, try holding the sheep nostrils closed for a moment. This "stress" sometimes triggers urination.

Areas where sheep are more likely to transmit germs:

1.      Water or feed contaminated by feces from sheep or other animals can transmit intestinal diseases and parasites.
2.      Respiratory disease may be spread by nasal discharge or feeding containers.
3.      Dirty uncrotched wool on a ewe can infect the lamb.
4.      Manure accumulated in a lambing shed or around a feeding trough can intensify exposure to disease germs and Coccidiosis, serve as breeding grounds for flies and other vermin. Another side affect can be the production of ammonia fumes which can inhibit respiratory function.
5.      Wet, muddy places can cause hoof disease in sheep
6.      Feeding on bare ground should be avoided and can contribute to parasite exposure and disease.
7.      Venereal transmission of disease at breeding time.
8.      Dirty syringes and needles can cause injection site infections.
9.      Insects, birds, snails, dogs, cats and other hosts can be carriers of parasites and disease.
10.  Newly acquired sheep can be carriers of many serious diseases such as Brucellosis, Chlamydia, OPP, Foot Rot etc.
At Karris Farm we maintain a healthy and sanitary surrounding. Our East Friesian sheep are adequately fed a well balanced diet on a normal schedule which aids in the prevention of disease. We also deworm our east Friesian Dairy Sheep regularly preventing parasite build up which can weaken the sheep and leave the more susceptible to disease. Sound management dictates that sheep should be vaccinated against all ailments and diseases prevalent in your area.

We wish all our friends, customer and sheep lovers a wonderful summer!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Dairy Sheep - Early Lambing or Late Lambing?

There are some advantages / disadvantages for both early and late lambing so we thought we would share some of our experiences on both.

Early Lambing:

  1. There are fewer parasites on the grass pasture due to the colder temperatures.
  2. Ewe lambs born early are more apt to breed as lambs.
  3. The earlier they are born the sooner you're able to place lambs at their new homes.
  4. Lambs will be ready to graze the fresh spring grass.
  5. Very few fly problems in the winter. 
Late Lambing:

  1. Ewe will require sheering prior to lambing which can be stressful.
  2. Lambs tolerate the cool weather better. Typically lambs born in a hot environment will not develop as quickly.
  3. Less grain is required  for late lambing.
  4. Ewe and Ram lambs will not reach breeding maturity until the following spring.

At Karras Farm, we have found that lambing in February has the best all around benefits. By May the lambs are at their new homes and we prevent some of the negative side effects that late lambing can promote. We believe that early maturity is key to prolific lambs.

Please stay in touch and feel free to leave comments with your experiences.


Andy Karras

Karras Farm

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sheep Guardian Dogs

Coyotes and stray dogs are increasing in numbers and have become an extreme danger to lambs. Stray dogs can cause more trouble than Coyotes. One or two stray dogs have the ability to destroy and maim dozens of sheep in a single night. Coyotes primarily make one kill to feed while dogs find it to be more of a sporting event and thrill of the kill. Killings usually occur at night or very early morning. It's important to employ a sheep guard dog for protection of the herd. Guard dogs are on duty 24/7 and they are most alert during times of greatest danger.

At Karras Farm we breed Anatolian Shepherds to protect our East Friesian dairy sheep. The Anatolian Shepherd is known for excellent sheep herd protection and they integrate well with new lambs during birthing season. Guard dogs are not family pets; they are working dogs and should be integrated with the herd at all times. Karras Farm offers a limited number of Anatolian Shepherd puppies to our existing customers. If you have an interest in learning more about guard dogs or future availability of our pups please feel free to contact us.

Thank you and best wishes with keeping your animals safe from predators.


Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Life Expectancy of Sheep

The life expectancy of sheep is similar to a large dog breed of about ten to twelve years. Some sheep breeds are known to have a longer life cycle such as the Merino. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest sheep lived to be 23yrs. She was a Merino however; the length of a sheeps productive cycle is much shorter. A ewes offspring production is highest between three and six years of age and usually starts to decline after age seven. As a result, most ewes are removed from our flock prior to reaching their natural life expectancy. It is necessary to remove the older ewes in order to make room for the younger animals. As we mature our genetic line of sheep we must provide an adequate environment for the younger sheep to thrive. In harder environments, where forage is sparse, ewes are usually culled at an even younger age due to tooth ware and break down.  It can become difficult for sheep in these conditions to maintain proper body condition and consume enough forage to feed their lambs. It is possible for a ewe to be productive past ten years of age and stay healthy but this is typically the exception to a natural sheep life cycle.

Hope all your lambs are happy and healthy!


Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Retained Afterbirth

In most cases the afterbirth comes out normally within a few hours after the lamb is born, depending somewhat on the activity of the ewe. Don't ever try to pull out the afterbirth. You may cut it inside the ewe or cause her to strain and prolase among other potential injuries. You can allow some time to pass without worrying about the afterbirth. If six hours have passed and the afterbirth is still retained, we recommend Penicillin G twice daily (every 12hrs) for five days and a good vaginal flush. This should be followed by Oxytocin in the muscle asap. This will help the ewe sterilize the area while the Oxytocin aids in helping the ewe push out any remaining afterbirth.

Make it a super day!

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

East Friesian Lambs

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

East Friesian Dairy Sheep Photos - Spring 2012

Here are a few photos of our prised East Friesian Dairy Sheep. Karras farm has had a successful lambing season and we wanted to share some photos of these beautiful sheep.

Thanks for taking the time to view our blog. Feel free to contact us with any dairy sheep needs or questions.


Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Saturday, March 24, 2012

East Friesian Dairy Sheep - Photos

It's a rainy Saturday here at Karras Farm so I wanted to take a moment to share some photos of our prized East Friesian Dairy Sheep. Hope all of your lambs are arriving healthy and strong.

Many thanks to all of you and we appreciate your comments.

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Friday, March 23, 2012

East Friesian Sheep Vision

Sheep have poor depth perception (three dimensional vision) especially if they are moving with their head up. This is why they often stop to examine things more closely. Sheep have difficulty picking out small details, like an open space created by a partially opened gate. Sheep tend to avoid shadows and sharp contrasts between light and dark. They are generally reluctant to go where they can't see well.

For many years it was believed that sheep and other livestock couldn't perceive color. It has since been proven that livestock process colors necessary for color vision. Research has shown that livestock can differentiate colors though their color perception is less than 50% of a humans color perception.

Have a super weekend!

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dairy Sheep Fecal Samples

It is important to take biannual fecal samples of your dairy sheep to check for parasites. Take samplings of several different sheep to your local veterinarian and have them checked for "egg count". A good time to do this in in early spring and late fall.


Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sheep Sense of Smell

The olfactory sense of sheep is highly developed and difficult for humans to relate to. A sheeps heightened olfactory system most likely incorporates olfaction more completely with their interaction of the natural environment.

In spite of humans inability to understand the full scope of a sheeps sense of smell, perhaps we get a hint when an odor triggers a long buried memory or emotion. The sense of smell is mysteriously linked to the core of human and divine sensibilities.

Sheep use sense of smell in numerous ways. One way often observed is when smell is used to identify other sheep, particularly when a ewe uses smell to identify her lamb. Another common use of smell is during mating. The ram moves from ewe to ewe detecting which ewe is in heat (estrus). The classic head raising, lip curling behavior of the ram as he smells estrus females is called Flehmen response. This trait is occasionally noticed in females due to a Vomeronasal organ in the roof of their mouth not found in humans.

Baaaaaa Baaaaa and have a great day!

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

US Presidential Shepards

George Washington raised sheep at his Mt. Vernon estate. Thomas Jefferson kept sheep at Monticello. Presidents Washington and Jefferson were bot inaugurated in suits made of American Wool. James Madison's inaugural jacket was woven from wool of sheep raised at his home in Virginia. President Woodrow Wilson grazed sheep on the White House lawn.

God bless the USA and all our wonderful sheep!

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

First East Friesian Lambs of 2012

East Friesian lambs only minutes after birth. We will be posting a few videos over the coming weeks as our East Friesian ewes give birth. It is an exciting time of year watching these beautiful lambs enter our world. Best wishes to all of you in 2012.


Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Monday, February 6, 2012

East Friesian Dairy Sheep Vaccinations

Karras Farm administers an annual booster of abortion vaccine to our dairy ewes. Both (chlamydia and campylobacter) as well as CD/T (tetanus toxoid + CL. perfingen CD). Our East Friesian dairy sheep receive their abortion vaccine annual booster just prior to breeding. The Midwest, East and upper Midwest have the moisture and temperature range which allow the abortion disease organisms to propagate. In theses areas we feel it's a must for ever flock to vaccinate for abortion disease. Use both vaccines Campylobacter (vibro) and Chlamydia (enzootic) on ewes. Both of these vaccines are killed so you will not bring in the disease through vaccination.

Karras Farm also administers an annual CD/T booster to our East Friesian dairy ewes 3-4 weeks pre-lambing. By making this a pre-lambing vaccination you receive dual benefits. The ewes get their annual booster and the lambs are born with high immunity. The pre-lambing CD/T will provide the lambs with several weeks of immunity to allow a 5-6 week delay on providing the lambs with their first CD/T vaccination. If the ewes don't receive the pre-lambing booster on time; lambs will be at risk shortly after birth. Also, the ewes colostrum contain antibodies from pre-lambing booster which facilitates protecting the newborn lamb. The flock will receive three injections. Two abortion vaccines and the pre-lambing.

We wish you all a successful lambing this year with a healthy flock of sheep.

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Monday, January 16, 2012

East Friesian - Tetanus ( Lockjaw )

East Friesian tail docking and castration can put lambs in danger of Tetanus. We boost our East Friesian dairy ewes with Covexin 8. Karras Farm administers 300-500 units units of tetanus antitoxin at the time of tail-docking or castration. The antitoxin will protect the lambs for about two weeks while the wounds are healing. Since there is no known cure for Tetanus, protecting your sheep by taking preventative proactive measures is worth the effort.