Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sheep Vaccine Covexin 8 - Video

Here is a video we took yesterday at Karras Farm administering the Covexin 8 vaccine to our dairy sheep.

For the purpose of the video we used a syringe to administer the vaccine. Most smaller dairy sheep operations would provide the medicine in this fashion. With larger flocks we recommend investing in a vaccine gun which greatly reduces the time needed for the vaccination process.

Thank you for stayin tuned to Karras Farm and have a fantastic 2013!!


Andy Karras
Karras Farm Inc.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Assaf Sheep

The Assaf Sheep
In 1995 researchers of the Israel Agriculture research Organization (ARO) developed the Assaf sheep. The Assaf is a dual purpose breed, raised for milk production and meat.
The original concept of the Assaf sheep was to improve the prolificacy of the Awassi fat tail sheep without losing many of the desirable Awassi traits. The result was an animal which consisted of 5/8ths  Awassi and 3/8th East Friesian. From there the breed was selected for the most beneficial traits and the new breed was created.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year~
Andy Karras
Karras Farm Inc.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Foot Rot - Contagious Foot Rot In Sheep - Awassi Sheep

Contagious Foot Rot

Contagious Foot Rot is a chronic, discouraging and painful disease that has a severe side effect on sheep.
Foot rot is caused by the combined action of two bacteria, one of which is common in all sheep feces and another that must be introduced by an infected sheep. The combined action of the bacteria affects the horny portion of the hoof, undermining the sole specifically and causing it to separate from the connecting tissue sand hoof wall. Severe lameness and pain occurs; sheep often crawl about on their front knees to take weight off the affected limbs. The putrid odor from the infected hooves attracts blowflies resulting in outbreak of fly maggots on the feet, chest and under wool contaminated by discharge of the feet. This is very contagious. The infectious bacteria spread easily from infected feet to soil in moist environments, and then back to the feet of other sheep where it soon undermines a great portion of the flock. Outbreaks with 15-30% of animals infected are not uncommon. The bacteria does not survive long in dry soil or in manure (approximately two weeks), but they may persist for several weeks when walled off in the hoof of an apparently recovered sheep. This makes the carrier sheep a walking time bomb that can go off during any rainy period continuing the cycle.
Walk affected sheep through foot baths of water and zinc sulfate to help control the bacteria. When bacteria appear inspect every hoof of every sheep and separate those with no foot rot or lesions. Run them through a clean foot bath of 10% zinc sulfate and place them on an area where there have been no sheep with foot rot for several weeks or preferably months. Check the sheep every other day and remover any lame sheep.
Those animals with foot rot should be culled from the flock ASAP if economically possible. If culling is not possible, trim all of their feet and treat them by zinc footbath each week for three weeks. Re-check all feet; remove any sheep that haven’t recovered. Keep infected sheep separate from the clean flock for another six to twelve weeks, checking weekly and removing any that relapse. When this group has remained free of foot rot for six to twelve weeks, you may integrate them with members of the clean flock.
Be sure to not bring in any animals with foot rot to your flock. All new sheep should be isolated from resident sheep for at least 30 days with a foot examination at the beginning and end of that period. Any animal with foot rot or foot rot symptoms should not enter the flock. A vaccine is available and should be considered for use in flocks that cannot eliminate foot rot. The vaccine cannot eliminate foot rot but it can clear it up.
Foot Rot Remedy
Mix this footbath and follow the direction for soaking the foot rot affected hooves.
Ingredients: 50lbs of zinc sulfate with 36% zinc and water.Create a 10% solution which equals 8lbs of zinc sulfate and 10 gallons of water. Pour the solution between two buckets for three to five minutes; then place into a trough structure to be used as a footbath. Place a clear water footbath in front of the zinc footbath to aid in cleaning the feet prior to entering the medicated bath.

Be a good Sheppard and tend to your sheep.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Blue Tonge - Awassi Sheep - Assaf Sheep

Blue Tongue is a viral disease spread primarily by Culicoides Gnat, which only inhibits areas South of the 45 latitude and below 7,000 feet in elevation. There are a number of different viral strains worldwide, but only five of them occur in the US.

After the Gnat injects the Blue Tongue virus into the sheep by biting through the skin and feeding on its blood, the virus rapidly replicates and signs of illness may appear in three to nine days. High fever (106-108 degrees), ear or face swelling and peeling of the Epithelial mouth lining are all effect of Blue Tongue. The tongue may even swell so large that it becomes "Blue" and protrude from the mouth. This causes severe pain and affected animals will usually not eat available feed. The sheep feet may also become inflamed resulting in laziness which can cause fetal defects of unborn lambs during pregnancy.

Blue Tongue does not spread from one sheep to another, but there can be a flock outbreak due to the presence of the virus in the gnats which inhibit the area. An outbreak usually doesn't occur until July and ends shortly after the first frost. In areas further South that don't have frost, the virus is endemic and infects all sheep at an early age. These sheep develop immunity and seldom show signs of illness.

A vaccine is available for one strain of Blue Tongue but it does not cross protect well against other strains. California has made vaccines available for other strains which can only be used by producers in that state.

Housing Sheep at night and applying pesticides to their head will reduce exposure but not eliminate the threat of gnats.

Make it a great day!

Andy Karras
Karras Farm Inc.
Awassi Sheep

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dairy Sheep Shelters

In general, adult sheep can cope with many types of weather thanks to their insulating wool. Sheep do best living outside on pasture rather than confined inside a stuffy barn that could be filled with ammonia fumes and pathogens. However, sheep also benefit from having a place to take shelter from inclement weather ranging from rain, wind, heat and direct sun. Lambs can become easily chilled during foul weather. Shelter can be open or closed and provide protection against predators as well. The sided shelters with a small area set=up as a lambing pen are really handy. At Karras Farm we find that shielding the animals from Northern wind is important. Proper ventilation is critical and it's preferably high up to prevent low drafts particularly with lambs. lastly, be sure to have clean, dry bedding to promote a disease free environment.

God bless our Veterans and our wonderful sheep!

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sore Mouth - Awassi Dairy Sheep

Sore Mouth ( Contagious Ecthyma )

Sore Mouth is a viral disease that affects the lips, mouth, nose and teats of sheep. It can be spread to humans so treating infected animals requires careful handling. Always wear gloves and do not place your hands around your face after working with infected animals. Be sure to was your hands thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap.

Sore Moth forms blisters which rupture and cause prolific, scabby lesions around the mouth area. This is highly contagious and spreads rapidly to other sheep that have not been vaccinated or previously exposed. The virus is resistant and durable , it will survive in the environment for extended periods of time until it finds a host.

Applying Tincture of Iodine to the lesions will dry them up and may speed healing. An antibiotic ointment can be applied to aid in softening the scabs and controlling bacterial invaders.

A vaccine is available which is applied by scarifying a small area of skin then applying the live virus onto the area with a tool provided. Once Sore Mouth has occurred, all lambs should be vaccinated at a few days of age. Do not use the vaccine if the flock has never been exposed to the disease.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dairy 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

awassi dairy sheep for sale in the us
Awassi Dairy Sheep - Karras Farm

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Liver Fluke in Awassi 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

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Catching Sheep

There are situations in which you need to catch an individual sheep. If you don't have a handling system to assist you , you can use gates and panels to make a small catch pen. You should make the pen small enough that you don't have to chase the sheep. This will prevent any unnecessary stress for the sheep and you! Always approach sheep calm and slowly. Cup your hand under the jaw, not the throat. Point the sheep head up, you will be able to stop its forward motion. If you keep the sheep head up you can maintain control of it. Sheep have much more power when the head is down. If you cannot get close enough to grab the sheep under the jaw then reach for a hind leg or rear flank. Reach for the hind leg above the hock, then move you other hand up to control the head asap. Adult sheep are able to kick with power so this method works best for young lambs. You should never catch a sheep by the wool. This is painful, stressful and can cause bruising to their carcass.

Hope the start of breeding season is going well for all of you!

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Treating Sciatica With Sheep Tail

Treating Sciatica with Sheep Tail
Miracle in the Hadiths
(Saying of Prophet Muhammad)

In traditions of Ibn Majah as reported from Anas Ibn Malek the prophet (PBUH) said: "The cure of sciatica is the fat tail of a desert sheep molten and split into three parts. Each part taken on an empty stomach for three following days".

The Desert sheep live on natural herbs very rich in the omega 3 fats from which scientists have extracted 700+ medicines. The beneficial oils the sheep absorbed from the herbs are mostly stored in the tail fat.

The prophet (PHUB) said that the fat from the tail should be melted first, and so the harmful bacteria and germs are killed by the heat. It should be taken in three days, not more, to avoid fat oxidation and rancidity. It should be taken on an empty stomach, so that no other lipids compete with the lipids of the tail for absorption in the digestive tract at the vesicule and pancreas level, in addition to the cellular level where enzymes acting at the membrane convert those lipids of the omega 3 group to the beneficial type 3 prostaglandin that reduces inflammation and pain caused by Sciatica.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

History of Fat Tail Sheep

The fat-tailed sheep is a general type of domestic sheep known for their distinctive large tail and hindquarters. Fat-tail sheep breeds comprise about 25% of the world sheep population. These sheep are most commonly found in Northern parts of Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, North India, Western China and Central Asia.

The earliest record of this sheep variety is found in ancient Uruk (3000 BC) and Ur (2400 BC) on stone vessels and mosaics. Another early reference is found in the Bible (Leviticus 3:9) where a sacrificial offering is described which includes the fat tail of sheep.

These beautiful animals were specifically bred for the unique quality of the fat stored in the tail area. The fat, called Allyah was used extensively in medieval Arab and Persian cooking. Sheep tail fat is still used in cooking today although there is a reported decline with other oils increasing in popularity and ease of purchase.

Fat tailed sheep are very hardy and adaptable, able to withstand tough challenges of desert life. When feed is plentiful and parasites at bay, fat-tail sheep can be massive in size and growth. The carcass quality of these sheep is quite good with most of the fat concentrated in the tail area. The fat can account for 10lbs of weight on a 60lb carcass.

The most common fat-tailed breed in the US is the Karakul. There is a growing market in the US for these sheep as the ethnic population is the fastest growing sector of sheep consumers in North America.

Have a blessed day!

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

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

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Benefits of Sheep Milk

Three fat soluble vitamins are found among the so-called fats. The vitamins A, D and E are incorporated in the fats and are easily absorbed by humans. The absence of these crucial vitamins in humans can lead to serious illness or even death. Sheep milk contains a higher concentration of these vitamins when compared to other dairy animals like cows and goats. A higher quantity of medium short chain saturated fatty acids in sheep milk is believed to promote higher lactose absorption which can benefit humans with lactose intolerance. Furthermore, sheep milk is not as high in saturated fatty acid when compared to other types of dairy milk. Forty five percent of fatty acids in sheep milk are Mono or Poly-Saturated fats.

There are scientifically proven benefits and nutritional value of medium chain fatty acids or triglycerides (MCT). Benefits have been studied in a variety of diseases like heart disease, epilepsy in children, cystic fibrosis, gall stones and others due to its unique metabolic ability to supply energy. MCT also limits or inhibits cholesterol deposits; it dissolves cholesterol gall stones and plays an important role in normal development of babies. MCT is unique because it doesn't follow the normal lipid route through the lymph system. It instead goes where it is oxidized into fast available energy for the body. The unique content of approximately 25% MCT in the fat of sheep milk is not yet fully utilized. The daily recommended intake of 15g MTC can be provided by roughly 60grams of sheep butter.

At Karras Farm we drink the milk of our East Friesian dairy sheep and have come to prefer it over cow’s milk.

God Bless~
Andy Karras

Karras Farm

Wednesday, May 23, 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

Friday, April 6, 2012

White Muscle Sickness In Lambs

White Muscle Sickness in lambs is caused by insufficient selenium in the soil and thus in the feed of the ewe. The Selenium deficiency combined with a low level of vitamin E can compound the issue. When the soil is deficient, the grazing hay is also deficient on these nutrients. Hay from known locations of inadequate Selenium shouldn't be fed to ewes after the third month of pregnancy or during lactation unless well supplemented by whole grain wheat and mineral salt containing Selenium. At Karras Farm, we give BO-SE injections three to four weeks prior to lambing. We dose BO-SE & Covexin 8 at the same time. Covexin 8 immunizes against Tetanus and Enterotoxemia as well.

Good quality hay, feed and minerals = sheep in excellent health!

Have a super weekend~

Andy Karras
Karras Farm

Monday, March 19, 2012

Awassi Lamb Photos

I was looking through some of my Awassi photos from my trip to Australia and wanted to share a couple. The wool texture, coloring and facial features are quite unique. Theses lambs are considered to be the new and improved Awassi sheep breed and have a higher milk production than the traditional Middle Eastern Awassi.

Thanks for looking :-)

Andy Karras

Karras Farm

Friday, March 16, 2012

Awassi 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

Friday, February 17, 2012

Awassi Sheep - Jingle Bells

Thank you all for viewing and commenting on our YouTube videos.

We have had several comments regarding the bells we use so I
wanted to take a moment to touch base on this subject.

Growing up on a sheep farm in Greece we had always used bells on the herd.

Here is a list of top benefits to using bells.
1. Keeps the sheep at a calm disposition for proper grazing.
2. Alerts you and your guard dogs in case of danger.
3. You always know where your animals are located.
4. Helps to deter wild predators away. Predators don't like strange sounds!

Note: We put bells on half of our herd and on Ewes only. No bells on Rams or lambs under 1 yr old.

Karras Farm has made arrangements to import some more bells directly from Greece due to a number of you requesting them. If you are interested in purchasing some bells for your sheep please call or email us. We would be happy to provide you with some additional details.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dairy Sheep - Newborn Lambs

Care for newborn lambs is critically important. Nearly twenty percent of lambs die before weaning. Eighty percent of those losses occur during the first ten days. Good lamb care can significantly increase the number of lambs that complete the weaning process and enter the flock healthy. Adequate shelter from the elements, dry/warm bedding, udder care and proper vaccinations are all contributing factors to optimal number of healthy lambs.

Best success this lambing season!

Karras Farm

Monday, January 16, 2012

Awassi Sheep - Fresh Water & Shade

Awassi Fat Tail Sheep are highly adapted to arid climates of the Middle East. It is important to recognize that extreme summer heat will cause all sheep breeds to loose moisture through their skin. It is very important to realize that the natural feed sources are also drained of moisture and nutrients during the hot summer months. Be sure to allow ample shaded grazing areas and additional water to rehydrate your sheep during the heat of summer.