Emergency Advice?

Legamin

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We have been breeding Leicester Longwool sheep for a while and have had good experiences with this calm and beautiful breed. This year we split the flock into two barns for Winter and one of the ewes will not enter the barn…even to eat! We have had sub-zero temps (she has plenty of wool) and several feet of snow but she refuses to come in. Her health scale is down to 1 and I have resorted to offering food outside even if it is snowing. She is stable for now but she will have to be euthanized if I can’t figure out how to get her to join her flock. The one issue I can think of is that the new barn has a small ramp to enter and the old one did not. could it be that I need to put rails on either side to make it look like a more safe and secure access? (I don’t know sheep psychology so if anyone does…help!)
 

messybun

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Can you rope her and drag her into the barn. Maybe make her a small pen in the barn?
I would probably use fence panels. Worm her and feed her extra grain. When I’ve had thin animals (goats) I would mix sweet feed and peanuts and pumpkin seeds, if I had them. It really helps fatten them up.
I don’t see why you wouldn’t feed her some outside of the barn, food seems more important than shelter to me, but I’m not an expert.
 

Ridgetop

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Are your sheep used to entering a chute? If so, putting up sidewalls would help. How steep and tall is the ramp? Most sheep will follow where the first few go so maybe there is something about this barn that spooks her. Maybe move her to the group in the old barn and put one of that group in the new barn.

If her condition scale is down to a 1, is it possible that something else is happening to bring her this far down? Do a fecal for worm count, and worm her. If necessary, drag her into the barn on a halter and put her into a smaller isolated pen in case she is sick. Then you can keep closer track of how exactly much she is eating and drinking. Try heating her water and give her electrolytes. Hang a heat lamb over the pen. Use a standard100 watt bulb if she is carrying wool since a big heat lamb bulb might be too hot for her.
 

Legamin

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Can you rope her and drag her into the barn. Maybe make her a small pen in the barn?
I would probably use fence panels. Worm her and feed her extra grain. When I’ve had thin animals (goats) I would mix sweet feed and peanuts and pumpkin seeds, if I had them. It really helps fatten them up.
I don’t see why you wouldn’t feed her some outside of the barn, food seems more important than shelter to me, but I’m not an expert.
You advice sounds good..getting her to go into the barn is going to be the challenge. It’s like she sees a ghost at the door! I wired and lit the entire area inside because the shadows were spooking all the sheep but now there is no excuse. As it happens I harvested a bumper crop of pumpkins this year and have seeds! (We lived on Pumpkin Squash meals for 3 months!). I will give it a try..i have been taking food out to her as they are fair wooly enough for any weather or temperature and she has been doing better. I have hesitated to separate her from the others since this breed is INTENSELY SOCIAL…they actually can die of loneliness if they are not with their flock. What has been happening in this flock is that her fellow ewes were sleeping in until they noticed that she wasn’t going to join them..within three days they all changed their minds to sleep outside in the snow and cold with her! All of them but her come into the barn to eat but then right back out so that she is not alone. In our other barn the flock is perfectly satisfied to remain inside (both barns give open access to the outside) and loudly complain when they want more food! They have no interest in going out into the snow. At some point soon I am going to have to herd them all into the barn for lambing in Feb. the snow is just too deep for pasture lambing. Thanks for the great info. I will try to adapt it to her needs.
 

farmerjan

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If she is that intent on not entering this barn, then putting her back with the other group and to the old barn would be my choice. Is there a reason why she cannot be moved back to the other group? That would be the easiest and least upsetting thing to do.
This way she is teaching the other sheep to not go in either, and that will cause more problems in the long run.

Other option is to sell her if you cannot get her in the barn and pen her to keep her in there. Penning may be more traumatic for her in the long run; and could cause her to lose her lambs if she has to be forced to go in and then restrained in there.
 

Legamin

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If she is that intent on not entering this barn, then putting her back with the other group and to the old barn would be my choice. Is there a reason why she cannot be moved back to the other group? That would be the easiest and least upsetting thing to do.
This way she is teaching the other sheep to not go in either, and that will cause more problems in the long run.

Other option is to sell her if you cannot get her in the barn and pen her to keep her in there. Penning may be more traumatic for her in the long run; and could cause her to lose her lambs if she has to be forced to go in and then restrained in there.
All good points. I have been ‘coddling’ her by taking extra hay and grain out to the yard just for her and standing there to make sure the other sheep don’t eat her grain. She is stabilizing and I am seeing a full belly all day every day now. It may be hopeful but after examination I am tempted to upgrade her to a 1.5….significant body habitus and behavioral improvement within one week. She is eating a pound of premium grain and 6-9lbs of alfalfa/Timothy hay mixture daily. There is very reason to hope now. This is very different from what was going on when i hoped that she would just get hungry and decide to go in with the others. I agree she should not be traumatized as she is an older ewe. the ramp is about 25 deg. Incline, no problem at all for every other ewes but I will put up rails to make it look more solid to her. She doesn’t mind going through the chute and has never been a problem. She seems healthy, feet, eyes, tongue, teeth udder and poop…I think it’s a weird sheep psychology thing with the new barn and nursery. She has always been with the sheep that she is with now and so far this breed has demonstrated a strong hesitancy to change flock associations without drama and upset and even mistreatment by the new flock. If I leave them to their own folk they are eager, playful, even affectionate…coming up to me for scratches behind the ear and pats on the back…which helps in assessing health and structure. She has never been with another flock. It’s still early on but with the full belly showing and the increase in her energy and brightness of eye I think I will keep trying to lure her into the barn and make it less ‘threatening’ with rails and continue to feed her outside as long as I need to. I bought this small flock for some friends who’s barn was not finished and they will be taking them after they wean their lambs this Spring. So my primary goal is to get her healthy and back to at least a 3-1/2 by that time. I am hoping against hope that she never got pregnant. She was in the last breeding cycle and wouldn’t be showing yet but I think that would be a lot of extra stress. I haven’t scanned yet so it’s time to set that up.. I appreciate your measured approach. I know they are not ‘pets’ but they are such loving and gentle creatures that I just prefer to lure them rather than man-handle them. They respond so well to confidence, slow movement and bribes that I just don’t see the benefit of pushing them. This flock‘s lambs will be be the beginning of our meat sheep flock and were bred against a 360lb national 3rd prize best of breed BFL ram. The lambs are expected to be normally sized but as ’mules’ these two breeds joined will produce enormous sheep that can tip the scales at 400lbs at the 9 month mark. We already have a hold on every lamb that may or may not be born this year at incredible prices. I am very pleased we shifted from mixed ‘mutt’ sheep to purebred sheep it has made a world of difference!
 
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