Where are all the early January lambs that should be on the ground by now? Well, no doubt there are some, especially from the most serious producers who use various methods to induce the breeding cycle. But the truth is that many small-time producers who rely on simple pasture breeding are finding that their animals are bred, but bred late.
The trend is likely worse in some breeds than others. The cause? Heat, and plenty of it, during August, when the traditional breeding seasons starts, especially for producers of 4-H lambs.
The effect can be two-fold—either on the ram, or because the ewe doesn't start cycling until it cools off. Many smaller producers will keep rams under fans during the day on days like occurred last August. If heat causes a ram to be sterile, the effect may not show up for a month after the fact.
Without special measures, there's not much that can be done to step up the breeding cycle for the ewe. When weather cools off, they'll get down to business.
And in some parts of Indiana, hog producers are asking why litters are so small? One vet who does a lot of hog work in southeastern and south-central Indiana says two to five pigs per liter have been all too common this winter. The vet doesn't have an explanation for it.
Others have had trouble with gilts or sows delivering pigs, but retaining one or more and passing it later. Again, it's difficult to pinpoint the cause, the vet says. Penicillin administered after farrowing may protect the sow, and could cause her to pass the last pig, often born dead, and sometimes not released for several days.
On the cattle front, odds and ends questions sometimes arise. One producer reported having trouble with white muscle disease in calves. Basically, it's linked to a deficiency of selenium. Vets say that selenium is available in soluble form for subcutaneous injection, and can also be used in lambs as a preventive measure.
Certain parts of the state where selenium isn't as plentiful sometimes produce corn that isn't carrying much of the element. It's not needed in big does, but it is needed by animals, particularly young animals, for correct muscle development.
Ask your local vet for his opinion on these issues, and for more details.