Our Blog - Happenings at Hopland REC
Despite the small amount of precipitation and a bit of snowfall-melt, the rangelands and hills are still brown here at the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center. There was even a small grassland wildfire just next to the HREC border last friday evening ... which is just plain weird for the month of December.
I am attaching a shot of the border collie sheep dog trial course from last November (border collie is under the tree) ... but the rangeland still looks similar except for a few mowed areas and heavily grazed areas which have some grass & forb germination. In the background of the photo is Duncan's Peak, a prominent landscape feature that "overlooks" Hopland and Sanel Valley.
Normally the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center does not begin with lambing until January. This year, however, due to a research project by the UC Davis Large Animal Clinic, lead by Catalina Cabrera and Bret McNabb, HREC has bred for "staggered" lambing... resulting in some early lambs. Utilizing 260 ewes of the Center's range sheep flock, the research group is comparing combinations of the use of the recently-approved intravaginal progesterone device (CIDR), the ram effect, and the hormonal enhancement of PG-600. The overall goal is to induce the onset of cyclicity and alter reproductive efficiency.
Some lambs have already been born as a result of this project design ...and this is a photo of one of those lambs and its mother ewe.
Most breeds of sheep grow their body hair ... normally referred to as wool ... continuously, so typical management of a sheep flock calls for shearing them at least once per year. An average adult sheep in the United Sates produces 7.3 lbs. of wool annually. Some sheep producers prefer to shear their sheep prior to lambing, but at the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center this is NOT done to allow the sheep to retain their wool for winter warmth. Also, for HREC, late spring/early summer shearing makes more sense to prepare the sheep for warm weather and also reduce the risk of "fly-strike".
So, an alternative management scheme is to "Tag" the ewes just prior to lambing. This is a quick modification to full shearing ... where only the wool around the vulva area and udder is removed. In some sheep-producing regions of the world this technique is called Crotching or Crutching. The removal of wool from the crutch area of the pregnant ewe keeps the area dry, reduces the risk of fly-strike, and allows cleaner and easier access to the udder by the soon-to-arrive lambs.
Here you see HREC's contracted shearer "tagging" a ewe on the shearing platform in HREC's main lambing barn.
The western fence lizard is known to be the primary host of immature western black-legged ticks in many areas of California where the tick and lizard co-occur. Come to the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center this next Monday evening and find out more about lizards, ticks, and lyme disease from Dr. Robert S. Lane, professor emeritus of Medical Entolomogy at UC Berkeley. Dr. Lane's seminar presentation is titled "Lyme Disease in California: a tale of woodlands, nymphs, and their significant others".
Dr. Lane has conducted over thirty years of research here at HREC and throughout the North Coast on the ecology, epidemiology, and prevention of tick-borne diseases ... particularly the spirochete (bacterium) that causes Lyme disease. Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne infection in the United States and in other temperate regions in the Northern Hemisphere.
So come and hear from Dr. Lane this next Monday, November 25th, at 7:00PM at the Rod Shippey Hall, located at HREC, and find out why it is good to have western fence lizards around in relation to the prevalence of the Lyme disease spirochete. The seminar is FREE and open to the public ... light refreshments will be provided.
This next Monday evening, November 25th, the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center will host yet another public seminar. Dr. Robert S. Lane, professor emeritus of Medical Entomology at UC Berkeley, will be the presenter with his "Lyme Disease in California: A tale of Woodlands, Nymphs, and their Significant Others" presentation.
Dr. Lane has conducted over thirty years of field research here at HREC and throughout the North Coast on the ecology, epidemiology, and prevention of tick-borne diseases... particularly the spirochete (bacterium) that causes Lyme disease. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne infection in the United States and in other temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
Dr. Lane's broad objectives of this research are intended to clarify the transmission cycles of the Lyme Disease spirochete and other emerging bacterial disease agents and to determine what behavioral and environmental factors place people at elevated risk for acquiring such infections. We hope to see you at HREC this next MONDAY at 7:00PM for this fascinating yet FREE public seminar.