What happens after a baby lamb is born…

Lambing (when the ewes (aka mamas) are having their babies) is always a fun and exciting season, albeit exhausting too. My parents are involved in the day-to-day tasks as the sheep ranchers, I get to help on weekends and when there are bigger tasks to do, like when we wean, tag, and worm the lambs.

Today I want to talk about what happens in the first few hours and days of the lambs’ life.

There are visual signs from the ewe when she is nearing lambing (I will go into that in another post), we keep a close eye on the ewes and check on them several times a day. Sometimes if we catch them early in the birthing process we will put them in their own private pen, and sometimes they have their lamb(s) in the bigger shed or outdoors, and we later move them into a private pen. We really try not to hover over them while they are birthing as it makes them nervous, and can delay the process. Instead we let them do their thing for about 30 minutes, then check on them, give them another 30 and check on them again. At this point if no progress is made we catch them and perform a pelvic exam to ensure the lamb is coming normally. A normal birth in the livestock world is both front feet and head coming first. Any other version of that usually results in us intervening.

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Source: Ethiopia Sheep and Goat Productivity Improvement Program (ESGPIP)

Also, depending on the age of the ewe and the size of the lamb she may need assistance having her lamb too. Unless there are complications we try to let her have the lamb on her own.

Once the lamb has been born, the ewe’s natural instinct is to get up and start licking the lamb off. This is a bonding process, but more importantly this dries the lamb, which is essential for survival if they are born outside in cold temperatures. At this point, if we see the birth we check to make sure that the nasal passages of the lamb(s) are clear and free of the amniotic sack or any any other blockages.

Almost immediately the lamb will try to start standing on wobbly legs to nurse. It is important that the lamb get the first milk (aka colostrum), which helps them get a good start on life. We watch closely to make sure they have figured out how to nurse. Sometimes they need a little help learning to latch on, and sometimes the ewe has so much milk that her teat is too big for the lamb to latch on, making it difficult for the lamb to nurse. Once the lamb gets older it has no problem keeping up with the ewe’s milk supply, but in the early days it can be challenging. Also in the first few hours we put iodine on the lamb’s navel, which helps decrease the chance of infection or illness. If the ewe is going to have another lamb, she will usually start birthing again shortly after licking the first one off. Sometimes however, she has a second one quickly and doesn’t have a chance to lick the first one off immediately. We hope that she comes back to clean both of them after the second one is born, if not we try to dry it off with an old towel.

As mentioned before, if the ewe and her lamb(s) are not already in a separate pen, they get moved to one. All pens have fresh straw, water for the ewe, and a heat lamp for the lamb. Also, when the ewe has finished lambing and taken care of her lambs (i.e. licked them off and let them nurse) we then provide her with hay, so can get her energy back up after the tough experience.

Depending on weather and how the lamb is doing, they will stay in this pen for about three days. Before they are turned out with the rest of the flock, the ewe receives her spring vaccinations and a paint number is put on her back that matches the number on the lamb’s eartag. The lamb will be weighed, given a unique eartag (that matches the ewe’s back number and her eartag number), and an elastrator is put on the tail. An elastrator looks like a green rubber cheerio. Essentially it cuts off the blood supply to the tail (or if applicable, the testicles – but that elastrator doesn’t go on until they get a little bit older).

At this point the ewe and her lamb are ready to join the rest of the flock. It doesn’t take long before the lambs are running and playing with other lambs and then eating hay out of the lamb feeders. At our ranch, the ewes and lambs are locked up at night to help keep them safe from predators (i.e. coyotes). We are careful to make sure these new little babies are in this space every night, as they start to learn the routine.

What didn’t I cover that you want to know more about?

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
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Thirty Days of Food with Prairie Californian: Leg-of-Lamb Marinade

Jenny at Prairie Californian always has the most amazing recipes complete with excellent food/drink photos. Additionally, she also writes frequently about farm life and the crops her and her husband grow in North Dakota. If you aren’t following her, you should be!

In Jenny’s 30 Days of Food series occurring right now (November) she is featuring an agricultural food product, showcasing the families that are growing/raising it. I am a big fan of lamb, as my family has raised it for generations. Learn more by visiting Leg of lamb marinade featuring Agricultural with Dr. Lindsay.

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Global meat consumption increases by 3%, decreases by 1% in the U.S.

One of the daily publications I subscribe to is MeatingPlace. If you are interested in getting daily updates on meat industry happenings, then this publication is for you. Recently MeatingPlace reported about meat consumption trends, as released by Euromonitor International: Encouraging results for the fresh meat industry.

Euromonitor International reported the following meat market research:

– A 3% increase in the global meat market from 2014 to 2015, growing to reach 225 million tones.

Anastasia Alieva, Head of Fresh Food Research, attributes this growth to increased prosperity and rising populations. She indicates since 2009, India’s annual disposable income has increased by 95% and meat consumption increased by nearly 50% during the same time period.

– Poultry is the most popular meat in the world, increasing by 4% in volume to reach 85 billion tones in 2014.

– India, where 1/3 of the population is vegetarian, emerged as the top growing meat market in the world in 2014.

– In China, demand for beef and veal increased by 5%, where demand for pork increased by 3% in 2014. Again this is attributed to an increase in per capita disposable income.

– Meat demand decreased in some developed markets.

– Greece experienced the most severe decline of meat consumption in 2014, followed by Germany and the Netherlands.

– Meat consumption in the U.S. decreased by 1% in 2014. This is attributed to health concerns, ethical, sustainability, and religious issues that portray meat in a negative light. Additionally, more Westerners are trying vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, flexitarian, or vegetable oriented diet.

– Lamb and goat consumption is increasing due to the rising interest of exotic and rare meats, as well as the popularity in Middle Eastern cuisine.

This research indicates that in developed countries, poultry has become certer of the plate for many consumers at the expense of red meat. Oppositely, in developing countries, consumers are seeking out higher priced, red meat in favor of pork or poultry.

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Food, family, and friends: Preparing for Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, you may be finalizing travel and/or menu plans, frantically cleaning house in anticipation of guests arriving (maybe that is just me), or counting down the days to Black Friday. In all of the craziness of the holiday season, don’t forget about the meat and food safety of your main dishes. Regardless if you are serving a new cut of beef, frying a turkey, serving savory seafood, glazing a ham, slow roasting lamb, or BBQing it is important to make sure you and your loved ones enjoy your time together!

For a little holiday fun you could even visit the UNL Meat Preparation and Safety webpage and quiz your Thanksgiving guests to see who is the most meat savvy (I am easily entertained!).

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Photo from Tom Reeder’s blog. Enhanced with PicMonkey.

What are you serving this Thanksgiving? We are serving the traditional turkey, as my sister-in-law is visiting from London, and we thought she would enjoy seeing the American holiday in all of its glory!

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– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Farm Tours: Another perspective

I can’t believe it is already the middle of August! Where has the summer gone?! I feel like mine was spent dragging a suitcase through an airport, where I got more sleep on an airplane than I did in my own bed. The good news, I have a ton of posts in my head, I just need to get them down here!

One of my job responsibilities is to provide the Saunders County Livestock Association members with an annual agricultural tour. This was their 56th annual! Pretty amazing that there is that much history and tradition within this county based association. It is also tradition for the Extension Educator who does the tour to take them to their “home” area, for me that is Western Nevada and Northern California.

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The annual cap is nearly as important as the annual tour! And the red was a great color choice to find persons in our group when we were in busy public spaces.

I had 43 men sign up for the tour (the women stay home and supposedly have their own vacations while the men are away); good thing I am tough and can handle that much testosterone! Since we were flying, I had planned a six day, five night adventure out into the Wild West. We traveled via planes, boats, and buses 🙂 Below are photos from our recent trip. This was only my second tour to plan, but oh what a learning experience these have been!

You would think that since these guys see and deal with agriculture everyday, they would not want to see more of it when on vacation. But that is further from the truth – they love to see what other farmers and ranchers are doing across the county. I hope you enjoy this recap as much as the guys and I enjoyed participating in the 56th annual trip!

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We flew from Omaha, NE into Reno, NV. In route we saw Lake Mead near Las Vegas. And we saw a great bear mount in Reno.
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Day 1 included a trip to Seven Troughs Whiskey Distillery where we had a great catered lunch consisting of brisket and tri-tip (a west coast meat treat). We also got to see the open air fermentation process they use for their spirits. We toured a beautiful ranch where we saw some great Hereford bulls. And finally, we ended the day with a relaxing dinner cruise on Lake Tahoe. As an extra bonus, two representatives with the Nevada Department of Agriculture joined us. It was a great addition as the tour participants could ask them about all things concerning Nevada agriculture.
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Day 2 included a trip to Jacobs Family Berry Farm where they are growing 27 different varieties of berries to determine which ones grow best in Western Nevada. We also went to Bently Ranch were they are growing their own crops for a whiskey distillery they are building. Additionally, they raise a lot of cattle and have a large human waste composting program. This stop was fun, because the Nebraska corn farmers were thrilled to see and talk corn with the Nevada cowboys. We had the chance to tour the “behind the scenes” of Topaz Lodge Casino (no photos due to sensitivity of the tour). Our last stop was a garlic farm which was in the middle of harvest. It smelled great, and accompanied dinner nicely…
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My parents hosted the group for a Lamb BBQ Dinner. Some in the group were not terribly thrilled about this, as they had experienced mutton before (which is old sheep, and very different than lamb). David, the garlic tour host gave our group an entire burlap bag of garlic, so we cleaned some of it up and threw it on the grill too. I think by time the night was over the group had developed an appreciation for lamb and roasted garlic!
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Day 3 meant heading over the Sierra Nevada Mountain range – which was hard on a few of the guys. Personally, I enjoyed being back in the mountains and enjoyed the scenic beauty. On this day the Sacramento County Farm Bureau hosted us and provided a turkey farm stop, a cutting edge dairy that has an automated calf feeding machine (which provided milk, hay, and grain every couple of hours) and a huge methane digester that we could walk on! We also went to a sturgeon caviar farm and saw the fish in various life stages. The fish also enjoyed our visit and splashed us as they showed off. We topped off the night with barrel smoked steaks at Giusti’s (locally recommended and enjoyed too). On this day my Mom also hopped on the bus with us!
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Day 4 was spent in the Delta, just south of Sacramento, CA. It was a great day to see the diversity of crops grown. It was also pear harvesting season, so we enjoyed fresh pears and pear ice cream! Our Delta tour guide also made the day extra special by finding some fellow Nebraskans (i.e. Huskers) living in the area that hosted us for lunch. Come to find out one of the hosts and one of the tour participants were kin! We finished out the day at an olive tree and oil processing farm, where my tour participants were thrilled to talk wheat farming on California hills with the family! This was an eye opening day to the diversity of agriculture in the area. We also saw first hand and heard about the effects of the drought as well as the fight for water for agriculture. It will be a tough battle for California agriculture, one that we are now more sympathetic too.
day 5 final
The interesting thing about planning a tour like this is how it changes over the months (I start planning in January, and we leave in August). My original day 5 was much different than the day 5 we got, but it was an excellent day. Day 5 was a day to do and/or see the things in San Fransisco that interested you most. For some that included trolleys over the infamous hills of San Fransisco, the seals, mass at a Catholic church, and more. For me it was taking in a variety of things (and time with my Mom). I was not able to get our group tickets to tour Alcatraz (as I should have booked those in January!), so we did the next best thing – a boat ride around Alcatraz and Angel Islands and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Next a group of us took a tour up to Muir Redwoods. While it was busy, it was beautiful and peaceful. We couldn’t have asked for better weather or scenery that day.
day 6 - final
Day 6 was just a travel delay. We left San Fransisco and headed back to Omaha. The entire experience was great, there was only one bag that got lost coming back to Nebraska. Not too bad for 44 people traveling for six days!!

This tour was especially important to me, as I took everyone “home” to see the area I was born and raised in. It was very interesting to see things through 43 other sets of eyes. These tours are a lot of work, but they are also a lot of reward to see them come together.

I have heard many of the Livestock Association members reference how great the trips were when the other Educators prior to me took the group “home” – so I had big shoes to fill! I think all of the guys really enjoyed it, and it will be one they talk about for years to come. P.S. – my Mom was already invited to hop on the bus again next year!

If you would like more information about any of our tour stops, tips for planning a large tour, or are interested in participating on a farm/ranch tour – please let me know.

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You can also find me on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Spicy Lamb and Potato Curry

Since it is Lamb Lovers Month and because I love lamb, today I bring you a favorite Indian curry recipe! The hubs and I love the cookbook easy indian, by Das Sreedharan – always delicious and user-friendly! The best thing about this recipe is that you can modify it to fit your tastes and availability of ingredients.

This recipe calls for lamb, but you could use beef or chicken instead. Every year for Christmas my parents provide us with a cut and wrapped lamb (I know, an awesome gift!), so I throw the neck and ribs into the crockpot to cook, then separate the meat from the fat and bone.

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Although the neck and ribs are not the meatiest parts of the lamb, they are flavorful and are great for curries and stews!

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Together in a deep frying pan combine oil, garlic, peppers (I used Serrano), ginger (I usually get the packaged stuff so it lasts longer), and cook several minutes. Add the onion.

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Add spices (it calls for curry leaves, since those are not readily available to me, I just use curry powder), tomatoes (I had some frozen ones from my garden I used instead of fresh ones), potatoes (I cubed a large baking potato), water, and lamb – if using raw meat. Since I used previously cooked meat, I just let the vegetables and spices simmer without the meat for a bit.

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When the potatoes are nearly tender add the lamb and let simmer for several minutes until the flavors combine.

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I like to serve this with Naan Bread or over rice. Yum!

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Spicy Lamb and Potato Curry

Serves 4-6

5 Tbsp. vegetable oil (I usually never use this much)
1 inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped (pre-packed works too)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (a big fan of garlic, so I add more)
2 green chillies, chopped (add more for extra spice)
15 curry leaves (can substitute with curry powder)
1 large or 2 small onions, peeled and sliced
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground chili powder
3 tomatoes, sliced
14 ounces boneless lamb, cubed
7 ounces baby new potatoes, scrubbed (if using large potatoes, cube them)
1 tsp. mustard seeds (I substituted dry mustard)

1. Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in saucepan. Add ginger, garlic, chilies, and 5 curry leaves. Sauté for 3 minutes or until the ginger and garlic are golden brown. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes until lightly browned.
2. Stir in ground coriander, turmeric, and chili powder, mix well. Add tomatoes, lamb, and 14 ounces water. Simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Stir in potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, or until lamb is cooked and potatoes are tender.
4. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in small frying pan. Add the mustard seeds, when they start to pop add the remaining 10 curry leaves and stir well. Pour mustard seed/curry leaf mixture over the lamb mixture, stir briefly, remove pan from heat.
5. Serve with Malabar parathas or other Indian fry bread.

Enjoy!

February is Lamb Lovers Month!

I just received an email from the American Lamb Board saying that February is Lamb Lovers Month!

Lamb lovers

No doubt many of the meat industry groups will share similar sentiments in the coming weeks. But seriously, nothing says love like the sizzle of meat!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know I love to eat lamb! So I will profess my love for it. You can too!

To state your love for lamb and have a chance to win prizes, you will need to write a love letter! Three winners will be chosen weekly throughout February to win a prize package, which includes fresh lamb for a home cooked romantic meal.

So whether your love for lamb is in the early courting stages, or you have many years of love under your belt, send your letter in today confessing your love of lamb!

A new year, a new ME! What’s on the menu at our house…

Every year at this time I make the resolutions to loose weight, get more excersise, sleep more, read more, achieve some academic goal, stay in better contact with my friends, etc. And every year at this time I reflect that I started each of those goals like a gangbuster, but for one reason or another realize I didn’t meet my resolution goals. So over the last couple of days I have been thinking about this differently, instead of setting myself up for failure year-after-year, why don’t I just make my resolution something I can achieve?! I know, not a difficult concept, but apparently I can be a slow learner! So for the 2014 year I have only one resolution: to be a better ME! What goes into being a better me you might be asking? Well this is how I am defining it, I will do things that make me happy! There are a lot of things that make me happy (I am a pretty eclectic person), I just have to make the time to do them – and not feel bad about doing it. Well that sounds easy enough right? To make myself more accountable I am declaring one day a month “Lindsay day,” a day to do something that makes me happy. That could be a date day with the hubs, antique hunting, crafting, a walk or bike ride, exploring a new community, wine with friends, trying a challenging recipe, starting a new book, anything! That is the joy of it, it can be anything! By being a better me, I have no doubt that I will be a better spouse, friend, colleague, daughter, sister, thinker, learner, and blogger 😉 What is your 2014 resolution?

I enjoy cooking (most of the time), so on my way to being a better me, I have spent a portion of the day making some good ol winter food.

First up, a pot of Anasazi beans with smoked pork hocks! Yum, they smell great. And the bread maker is working too, a loaf of warm French bread will accompany those beans nicely! An added bonus, beans taste better the next day, and the day after that…

In the crockpot I have a lamb neck, brisket, and ribs (remember lambs are smaller than beef, so it fits fairly easily). For Christmas my folks gave us a lamb cut and wrapped, nothing says love like those little white packages! I love to let these cuts slow cook all day, or overnight, and then separate the meat from the bone and fat. It is so tender, juicy, and delicious! The hubs has requested a spicy lamb curry for our New Year’s lunch tomorrow, there should also be enough lamb to make a tasty little stew.

I will post pictures of the end products!

What tasty treats are on your new year menu?

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No holiday “bummer” for this gal

Meet my Mom, Terri. She is feeding a bottle of milk replacer to a bummer lamb. A bummer is an animal that has lost its mom and needs to be cared for by us, their human caregivers. This lamb has a bottle 3-4 times a day in addition to eating hay, she is growing like a weed!

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)