CFAES Give Today
OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

December 27, 2023 - 9:04am --

I hope that each of you had a wonderful Christmas.  We were fortunate that the “big kids” were able to come spend last week with us and then we were all able to travel back to WV to spend some time with our extended family.  If nothing else, the holidays offer a chance for adults to act like children for a couple hours and enjoy the simpler things in life.  You can’t beat a rushed trip to the zoo to see the lights, and the other items on their “to-do” list when they come home.

The holiday season doesn’t just ring in the new year, but also signals the arrival of new residents on our farms and ranches.  Although each operation is a little different at some point between mid-December and March, calves, lambs, and goat kids will be making their way into the world.  As you know, this is a very stressful time for all involved but can also be very exciting.  It is exciting in that we get the first look at the new offspring and can make an initial evaluation of our breeding plan results.  You know too well about the stress part:  Long sleepless nights, ‘will your favorite cow/ewe/doe deliver her future replacement without any difficulty?’, ‘will it get cold? and stay cold so we aren’t calving/lambing/kidding in the mud?’, are just a few.

Get new offspring off to a good start

As new offspring start to appear, it is important to get them off to a good start.  That good start happens well in advance of the mother giving birth, and we know that colostrum is the main factor in getting it for those young animals, and quality colostrum comes from a healthy mom.  You should be working with your veterinarian to ensure that you have a vaccination program that meets the needs of your operation.  Having a resource that knows your operation and management style can’t be replaced by internet searches or continuing to do what you have always done, and that is advice you can only get from your vet.  Also, if you have that on going relationship it is a lot easier to get them to come out at 3:00 AM to help when you are having trouble.  The second component is having mom in the proper body condition prior to giving birth.  If mom is too thin, she will not get nutrients into the colostrum to get baby off and running.

Have patience when dealing with a critical issue

Inevitably, there will arise at least one issue.  Whether it is a case of dystocia, a young cow/doe/ewe with no milk, or just a poorly calf/lamb/kid.  If you do encounter a dystocia, remember the goal in resolving it is to end up with a healthy mom and healthy baby.  We often fall short and can only accomplish half the goal, and there are times when it goes completely sideways and we lose both.  When dealing with dystocia, the most important thing to have is patience.  I have been as guilty as the next person in thinking that it was a race.  You always have time and taking your time to provide thorough assistance is critical to a positive outcome.  Is the calf not presenting into the birth canal properly? Is mom not dilated enough to give birth? Is the baby too large to make its way out?  Figure out what is the actual cause before you start pulling.

When you do have a difficult birth, there is evidence that tubing the calf to provide colostrum or a replacer is to your advantage.  This is the case even when mom appears to be wanting to do her job or baby does get up and starts nursing.  You may think it got a full meal, but by giving them that supplement you will ensure they get their belly full at the start.  For those calves/lambs/kids that just seem to be a little slow, you can try giving it the “Madigan Squeeze”.  At one time I thought it was just hocus pocus, that is until I tried it myself.  You can find several Youtube videos on how to do it, but it involves the same technique as casting a cow.  You use a rope wrapped around the chest a couple times to provide pressure that simulates the birthing process.  It is difficult to describe in writing and I would encourage you to look up a video to see how it works for yourself.

Upcoming programming

We have scheduled our annual Private Pesticide and Fertilizer Applicators Recertification programs for 2024, and are taking reservations.  The first program will be held in conjunction with the Ag Pro Expo at Harvest Ridge Fairgrounds in Millersburg on January 25th.  Our first Wayne County session will be at Drake Park, in West Salem on February 9th.  You should have received a listing of all programs from the Ohio Department of Agriculture and you can find our list on our website (  The cost of each program is $35 for pesticide recertification and $15 for fertilizer, payable the day of the program.  As a reminder, this charge is separate from the $30 you are required to pay the Department of Agriculture.  You should mail that to the ODA with your renewal application.

We have also been receiving registrations for the 2024 Professional Marketer Program, and still have room for anyone wanting to participate.  The program is an advanced commodity marketing school targeting beef, dairy, and grain producers.  We have scheduled an outstanding line-up of speakers from academia and private industry that will cover topics on: determining your cost of production, price goal setting, fundamental market analysis, technical market analysis, commodity pricing tools, and much more.  There are 5 sessions during the month of February, the first beginning on February 1st at 11:00 AM at the Buckeye Ag Museum.  The program cost $150 per participants and provides access to all sessions, a binder of course materials and lunch each day.  You can find more information on the program on our website ( or you can register at  As always, if you have questions about our programs, please feel free to contact me at the OSU Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722, or email me at  I look forward to meeting everyone and I hope you have a safe holiday season.

This article was previously published in The Daily Record.