What is Normal
I commonly hear the statement, “When things get back to normal…” To be honest, I doubt that 2021 and beyond will ever resemble normal. I believe that we are embarking on a new era that has a different normal. And potentially a new era that keep changing so fast that we don’t settle into a normal.
Constant change is hard for most people. We all like to think that we are independent thinkers but more often than not, we are like sheep and prefer the safety of the flock. The world is complex and daunting. It is often easier to make decisions based on general consumer perception verses independent technical research.
Let’s stop and think about what normal we want back and what part of the new normal we want to keep. To do this, I suggest that you write down 3 things that you want to go back to normal and 3 things that are new to your life that you plan to keep.
I WANT BACK: I PLAN TO KEEP:
1) ________________ 1) _________________
2) ________________ 2) _________________
3) ________________ 3) _________________
I don’t know know about you, but I found it easier to come up with three things I plan to keep than 3 things I want back. Yet, I did not expect this because we tend to think of 2020 as having been chaotic and unwanted. I suspect it is because we fear change and uncertainty.
Markets don’t like change or uncertainty either. Here in Texas, the market is dominated by the ethnic-consumer demand, which thankfully is more diverse and less reliant on a few major entities.
In early March, when everything was first shut down, the markets weakened a little. Fortunately, it did not take long to rebound, especially for lightweight lambs and goats. The ethnic market was free of major market disruptions and experienced what appeared to be a growth in demand. As such, each month in 2020 the market was stronger than it was for the same month in 2019.
One aspect of 2020 that most livestock producers in west Texas don’t want to continue in 2021 is the weather. Much of the sheep and goat producing region of Texas is dealing with mild to severe drought conditions. If your pastures have any forage remaining, it is either low in supply or low in quality. For the region as a whole, this was not a bad parasite year with the dry conditions, but drought may also mean hungry predators, especially this winter.
I commonly get the question “What is the best sheep and goat supplement?” or “What protein level should I feed?” I don’t particularly care for these comments as to answer them I usually have to play the card I least like to… “It depends” The better questions you should probably be asking is “How much supplementation do my animals need?” and “What is the most economical feed resource?”
Stage of production, body condition, and feed supply are the main factors that affect how much supplement may be needed. Feed cost, feed nutritive value, and cost of delivery (easy to forget) are the main factors that determine the most economical supplemental feed. I recommend that you contact your local county extension office, nutritionist, and/or veterinarian for assistance. While I always encourage you to pursue the most economical means regarding supplementing, it should also be noted that many of our livestock are pregnant and in the latter stages of gestation. Inaction now, while you are waiting for an opportunity to save a nickel on feed costs may cost you quite a few dollars later.
In closing, there is no doubt that our future is going to be quite different from our past. For some of us, there have been tremendous hardship through these trying times. But don’t be afraid to break away from the flock and appreciate that change, albeit uncomfortable, might just result in something good.
To provide feedback on this article or request topics for future articles, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 325-657-7324. For general questions about sheep and goats, contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county office. If they can’t answer your question, they have access to someone who can.