How Delicate are Sheep?

Alaskan

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Thanks! I was wandering about that. What did you do to get your point across?
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Super exaggerated facial expressions. But remembering clearly how I raised my boys... don't make something bad exciting or enticing... you make an exaggerated uck face, then move away and ignore the "bad" thing and find a good thing to be happy/excited about.
 

Cindy in SD

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:hide

Super exaggerated facial expressions. But remembering clearly how I raised my boys... don't make something bad exciting or enticing... you make an exaggerated uck face, then move away and ignore the "bad" thing and find a good thing to be happy/excited about.
Too funny! I love it--now that I can understand!
 

Show Sebright

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I bottle lamb that hasn't had a mama teach him what plants are bad will be more tempted to eat poisonous things.

You can actually teach your lamb what not to eat/shouldn't be eaten.

Take him out to graze and if he tries to eat something he shouldn't, make it clear that the item is not edible. I did that with my bottle kids. . ... and yes I looked like an insane idiot... but kids are smart and they learned quickly. I would think a lamb could be trained the same.
Oh that’s cool. Yeh he is living with mom on another farm right now and I get him when he is Weaned from mom. So I’m waiting to go pick out my lamb in 3 months. I’ll try that. So I just push his head away or something else?
 

Alaskan

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Oh that’s cool. Yeh he is living with mom on another farm right now and I get him when he is Weaned from mom. So I’m waiting to go pick out my lamb in 3 months. I’ll try that. So I just push his head away or something else?
This:
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Super exaggerated facial expressions. But remembering clearly how I raised my boys... don't make something bad exciting or enticing... you make an exaggerated uck face, then move away and ignore the "bad" thing and find a good thing to be happy/excited about.

But if he is being raised with mom she will teach him what to eat and not eat... and he will have learned how to be a sheep.... All good things.
 

Lizzy733

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New Zealand! We've been praying for you all. ❤️

The iodine you're using is what I've been taking for hypo-thyroid. It's probably better for wounds than betadyne would be. At least better for humans. I hope you can get him all healed up.
We're almost through it. He's 100% better attitude-wise.

IMG_20220224_173826~2.jpg
 

Legamin

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I just moved. But my previous farm had black nightshade on it. The sheep eagerly stripped the leaves from it. but avoided the berries. If there is plenty of graze and freely available hay, they WILL eat some of the poisonous plants, but at different times of the year-I guess they know when they are safer to eat. All the grass and hay they can eat seems to dilute the effects of the bad plants too. Wilted stone fruit leaves like peaches or plums are supposedly deadly poisonous too, but mine eat them like candy. So go figure. Poison? Sickly? Deadly? Drop dead instantly deadly? I do make an effort to eliminate poisonous plants and research plants before planting anything new. Sheep love weeds, they have deep roots and bring up minerals and nutrients from greater depths than grass.
I would agree with that. Most animals seems to know what is bad for them. We had a noxious weed problem for a few years and it was quite poisonous to horses. The horses ate them in small quantities…there were a few days of sore bellies and laying around in the dust but after that they just ate….less…. The BIG problem was that horses do NOT digest or sterilize the seeds and so a moderate weed problem became a HORRENDOUS noxious weed problem…one that cost me almost $6,000 to mostly eradicate. (Horses went bye bye). But a wonderful thing with sheep and goats is that they can process larger quantities of poisonous flora and their digestion kills or neutralizes the seed! Nothing escapes…that I can tell so far…
Our big issue was the sudden resurgence of a nasty nettle plant in the night shade family that smells like rotten peppermint and feces…it grows about 6 feet high, lush and bushy and the sheep LOVE it!…well, not ALL of the sheep…the goats ate it without problem and knocked down the whole stand and one ewe tried it as well. I found her on her back doing her best to die of bloat. I saved her but am culling her from the flock for her indiscretion. I don’t want the ‘dumb’ gene passed to lambs that will continue the line. It’s a matter of culling for best health and productivity…she is also a one lamb wonder…has never seemed to manage two or more lambs.
I try for ‘organic’ on our farm but these weeds required action before our pasture turned into a giant weed farm. One of the problems with buying land that has set fallow for a generation is that many weeds grow, seed, lie dormant in the ground for many years and then when you come back into the field and plow for new crops you disturb them and bring them to the surface where they get rain and sunlight and you have a weed problem!
Well…I digress….I agree, animals will eat them but seem to know their limits most times. It is humbling to know that with our best intentions and most heroic efforts animals will do what animals will do and not all will survive the day. Farm Life.
 

Legamin

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Stubborn ewe... :idunno Yes, that's exactly what I'm eager to avoid with the bottle baby theory. I want them all in halters and willing to be led. No way can I leave them out at night with our coyote population. We haven't actually had any on our property (that I know of) since we put 4' high field fence all around a couple years ago, but then we haven't had any sheep for them to drool over, either. I have little doubt they could clear that fence in a heart beat if they wanted to.

Plus, I want to milk them, so they do need to be tame. I'm wondering how much milk I could get from a not-milk breed, if I can't find a milk breed within a reasonable distance. I intended to milk my Highland cattle, but we never got to that point. We had a couple dry years and it just got to be too expensive to feed them.
There are many ways to have calm and easy to handle sheep without resorting to artificially creating a dependency which nutritionally deprives the lamb and compromises their immune system and future health. Taking a lamb from the mother and ‘making a bottle baby’ is, quite possibly, the worst thing that can be done for the health of the flock.
This is a particular ‘bugaboo’ of mine and is something I strongly educate against in my classes advising new sheep farmers as farm consultant. The natural way is the best way for the lamb.
I certainly would not tell you how to raise your sheep. And there are many methods that are equally successful to my own. I am NOT a guru….or an authoritarian sheeperator….or anything…but…
The very specific nutrition and immunities that lambs get from their mother in those first two months of life will determine the level of immunity, health, resistance to external pathogens (hoof rot, pink eye, skin irritations) and even the quality of their wool. SO MUCH about the nutritional benefits of nursing are unknown but equally…so much IS known about the critical role it plays in their growth, health and life span.
But I digress…Handling. The best program for producing ‘tame’ sheep is to take lambs at the weaning stage and begin to handle them daily. Use harness, grain bucket, voice calls, physical contact, holding and playing as the lamb becomes independent of it’s mother it begins to see you as her/his surrogate. The more nutrition and pleasant touch that it associates with you the more it will acquiesce to your every whim. Sheep will never become domesticated like a dog or ca….well, a dog.. but it can become used to associating pleasant experience with coming to your voice and remaining pliable and calm as you harness and lead it where you want it to go. Frequency of handling is the key. NEVER raising your voice is critical! NEVER striking an animal or rough handling for any reason is critical. Sheep have a memory that is unparalleled in the ruminant world. A sheep’s memory is for life. A sheep that hasn’t heard it’s shepherds voice for years will respond instantly if the memory of it is a pleasant association (if not it will instantly seek to be surrounded by the herd). Equally I have seen (and own a few) sheep who have been roughly handled by previous owners and those sheep will NEVER again trust humans. They will forever be wild and run on instinct in every situation. This has been so consistently true that I have had to keep two flocks rather than blend these ewes in with my main flock because the behavior is so violently adverse to human voice and contact that their behavior ‘rubs off’ and influences the flock as a whole. I have one flock that is calm and approachable and easily handled….and a wild flock that has been mistreated by their previous owner. They are beautiful but damaged goods. The best I can hope for with them is to breed them and separate the lambs after weaning to put in the calm flock to learn proper flock behavior.
I know that I will get a flurry of broad opinions…some, perhaps, angry…but I spend a lot of time with sheep and I watch them carefully and I think my observations have merit.
In my opinion if you separate at weaning and handle them, harness/leash train them, handle them and get them used to your voice and presence daily then shearing, milking, hoof trimming…all will be easily accomplished. If you give a few handfuls of grain (even if you are a ‘grass/hay ONLY’ feeder) in a bucket and get them used to following the bucket to the stand where the handling takes place they will eagerly submit to the stand harness so that they may be milked, sheared etc. The old adage, “Control the head-Control the sheep” is dead accurate. Once the head is safely harnessed in the stand your sheep will serenely allow almost any interaction, care or medical treatment.
Best of luck…I know I come off strong on a few particular subjects and you can choose to take it as an offense or as a passionate appeal to your kind shepherdessly nature..but I always seek what is best for the sheep…even if it inconveniences ME.
 

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Baymule

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A bottle lamb can be more dangerous because he will not have that little bit of fear. A bottle ram will see you as equal or inferior, and he will want to dominate you by ramming you.

While taking a rejected lamb to raise may sound like a good idea, nix the ram and get only ewe lambs. I had 2 bottle lambs last winter. I put more money in milk than those two were worth. The ram lamb got banded and sold cheap to a family where he will be loved and as a companion to their ram. The ewe lamb I kept. She is a spoiled brat who loves to chew shoe laces, grab a zipper tab in her teeth and unzip my jacket, nibble and bite on my blue jeans and make a general nuisance of herself. She is adorable. Can't wait to see her lambs.
 

Legamin

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I have a spray bottle of iodine for any open injuries. You'll likely come across a few the first time you have them sheared and they can look pretty brutal - giant red gash brutal. Been using it on our poor flystruck boy who is on the mend. His wounds are more raw and scabby skin and it's been keeping them clear of infection while he's been healing. Heaven forbid, but if you have a predator attack, horn injury, etc... It'll come in handy. We had someone in to shear our sheep the first week we were here and went out and got a bottle the very next day.

Copper foot spray would be a good investment too - it's used to treat hoof rot in its early stages. I haven't added this one to my medicine cabinet yet, but it's on the list.
Just out of curiosity, have you had trouble finding qualified shearers in your area? They are critically short in our area and there are some ‘pretenders’ who are just not good. I have only had one “giant red gash” and I fired the shearer on the spot and did not recommend to others. Our shearer takes about 40 seconds per sheep and has never once injured an animal. But if it does happen! There are good antibacterial/antibiotic spray on wound sealers that stop the bleeding and keep exposure to infection out with a single application. The medicine is bright blue and very messy (back spray on your fingers) and about $2.50 per application if done right…(4 applications per spray can). Catron IV is one among many. I use it for head wounds on the rams in the post breeding separation. They hit the fence, each other, the feed bin….doesn’t matter when they are hopped up on the ‘horny hormone’! We use Pine Tar (yes, the same 1000 year old remedy for wound care) for compromised hoof, hoof rot, hoof injury, and iodine pretty much only on the newborn lamb’s naval to dry it out and keep infection at bay. If your shearer routinely causes cuts on your animal you might want to investigate their experience or just find another shearer. Modern equipment really makes such injuries avoidable.
gotta go sheepin’, best of luck!
 
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