How Delicate are Sheep?

Lizzy733

Overrun with beasties
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We're in New Zealand.Don't know there's any qualifications here. We just went local recommended as we'd only moved in the week before, was in the dead of summer and our poor girls were sweltering. Some of the girls were being quite fiesty and those were the ones that ended up with knicks and gashes, even on their rumps.

Thinking about getting some basic trimmers myself, either shearhead style or simple electrics. We have some hand shears, but I'm too paranoid to get too 'close' with those on those thick coats. Have a really tame boy that's had flystrike and is on the mend. He's lovely and will stand there for me, but really paranoid I'll knick him if I snip too close.


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!
 

MoreAU

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Also... with poisonous plants... it is more of an issue in an over-grazed pasture.

If all the "good" stuff is eaten, and the only green things are poisonous.... clearly in that situation, yes... all of your sheep are going to try and die.
I believe this is it in a nutshell with all animals. They stay away from the plants that are poisonous to them unless there is nothing else to eat. When there is no food for them, it's something to stop the hunger pains, so they eat it. I also think that often a plant is called poisonous when it just has no nutritional value. I know of someone who had a horse die of "sage poisoning". The horse died of starvation, there was nothing besides sage to eat in the pasture. I rehabilitated his other 3 horses that has also been eating this "poisonous" sage. The only medicine they needed was a constant supply of decent hay, then grass when spring came.

I know I should police my pastures more. I know there are some plants there that they should not eat. Between the pastures and having hay available to them, they don't need to eat it, and they don't. They leave it to me to brushhog a few times a year.

FYI, I'm not a doctor, nutritionist, or anything of the like. These are just my beliefs based on what I've experienced. I don't want this whole interweb thing making me out to be something I'm not. I'm just a guy who likes animals. I have a small herd of cattle and one of hair sheep.
 

Ridgetop

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I’m getting him a muzzle that he can drink through while he is out but I was worried if some kid threw it in thinking the lamb will eat it.
Why would a kid throw something in your pasture? If you are worried that the lamb may eat something it shouldn't while at the fair due to members of the public trying to pet and feed the cute sheepies, make big signs stating "Danger - sheep will bite". Most fairgoers won't know the difference and will avoid your lamb.

Sheep muzzles used to be much used at sheep shows by market lamb exhibitors to keep their show lambs from eating bedding straw. Show market lambs are on strict diets to give them the long lean tubular body profile. When fitting a show lamb for fair you begin cutting back on hay and increase the pelleted feed to keep the lamb from getting a "hay belly". "Hay belly" is the rounded belly profile that breeders like to see in their sheep since it shows heathy rumen activity. Show people don't like that look so they cut the hay intake to just enough to keep the lamb's gut working and put them on pelleted feed for about a month before the show. Since straw is similar to hay and the sheep will eat it (show sheep in restricted roughage diets are ALWAYS hungry) they will bloat up in the belly when they eat their hay bedding, ruining that long elegant show lamb profile. Thus the need for sheep muzzles.

Many Fairs have outlawed sheep muzzles since there are problems with them even when the sheep can ostensibly drink through them. They have been known to hang up on fencing and strangle a lamb, etc. Most exhibitors now do not bed their market lambs on straw since they can't use the sheep muzzle. They sometimes use sawdust. If yur Fair has dirt floors in the pens, don't put anything down. If your Fair has wash racks, you can wash your lamb before exhibiting. To keep the bathed and shorn lamb clean for the show ring exhibitors use "lamb stockings". These are stretchy tubes that the ring ready lamb is stuffed into like a sausage in a casing. They come in all sorts of bright colors and patterns for the youth show person to choose from.

As to sheep poisoning themselves on certain toxic plants, normally they will avoid thse plants in a healthy pasture. Also, lambs learn to avoid certain plants and eat others by mimicking their mother's behaviors. Goats, on the other hand, rrely eat enough of poisonous weeds to get very sick. They are browsers which means that they will take a bite of this here and bite of that over there. They also follow the herd queen's example as she browses. Goats only concentrate on eating an entire plant when it is a rare or expensive rosebush or other much beloved plant in your garden.
 

Show Sebright

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Why would a kid throw something in your pasture? If you are worried that the lamb may eat something it shouldn't while at the fair due to members of the public trying to pet and feed the cute sheepies, make big signs stating "Danger - sheep will bite". Most fairgoers won't know the difference and will avoid your lamb.

Sheep muzzles used to be much used at sheep shows by market lamb exhibitors to keep their show lambs from eating bedding straw. Show market lambs are on strict diets to give them the long lean tubular body profile. When fitting a show lamb for fair you begin cutting back on hay and increase the pelleted feed to keep the lamb from getting a "hay belly". "Hay belly" is the rounded belly profile that breeders like to see in their sheep since it shows heathy rumen activity. Show people don't like that look so they cut the hay intake to just enough to keep the lamb's gut working and put them on pelleted feed for about a month before the show. Since straw is similar to hay and the sheep will eat it (show sheep in restricted roughage diets are ALWAYS hungry) they will bloat up in the belly when they eat their hay bedding, ruining that long elegant show lamb profile. Thus the need for sheep muzzles.

Many Fairs have outlawed sheep muzzles since there are problems with them even when the sheep can ostensibly drink through them. They have been known to hang up on fencing and strangle a lamb, etc. Most exhibitors now do not bed their market lambs on straw since they can't use the sheep muzzle. They sometimes use sawdust. If yur Fair has dirt floors in the pens, don't put anything down. If your Fair has wash racks, you can wash your lamb before exhibiting. To keep the bathed and shorn lamb clean for the show ring exhibitors use "lamb stockings". These are stretchy tubes that the ring ready lamb is stuffed into like a sausage in a casing. They come in all sorts of bright colors and patterns for the youth show person to choose from.

As to sheep poisoning themselves on certain toxic plants, normally they will avoid thse plants in a healthy pasture. Also, lambs learn to avoid certain plants and eat others by mimicking their mother's behaviors. Goats, on the other hand, rrely eat enough of poisonous weeds to get very sick. They are browsers which means that they will take a bite of this here and bite of that over there. They also follow the herd queen's example as she browses. Goats only concentrate on eating an entire plant when it is a rare or expensive rosebush or other much beloved plant in your garden.
Well to start my lamb will live at the school so no matter the sign a kid will mostly throw the school veggies or fruit or even a random branch at him. Hi will be a shoe lamb but I’ll giving him a hay belly until close to his fair then I will be cutting back on hay. I was just worried about him eating anything he shouldn’t because lambs are sensitive compared to the goats he will live around.
 

David Gross

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I've been looking into getting a few sheep, but today I perused a list of plants that will kill them (allegedly) and I'm wondering how there are still sheep on the earth. It logically cannot be as bad as the internet lists make it out to be. 😳 Apparently even Ponderosa Pine will kill them (of which we have many, though most of our 12 acres are "grass").

Amongst the pasture forbs I find the occasional death camas (which I pull whenever I see them) and around some of the buildings are lambs quarter. I don't eat it; I don't like it. My cows didn't like it, and maybe sheep don't like it either. 🤷‍♀️ We have some native vetches as well. There are water hemlocks in and around the pond. I cut them down as soon as they pop their pretty heads up. They're endemic to the area.

It's mostly grass, I guess. White, purple, pink clover. No sweet clover. Maybe a little purslane. Mustards, a little. Yarrow, pussytoes... Lots of Canada thistle that I try to keep mowed. Tansy, which I actively discourage as well. Some burdock along the edges that I've made a point to machete down, as it gets miserably entangled in fur, even if it is (allegedly) edible. There are many more plants I'm forgetting or possibly haven't noticed. I can't see that it's reasonable to dig up our entire place and plant straight-on grass. Plus that sounds like something which would require a ton of glyphosate (a non-starter for us) to succeed, not to mention several years at least.

So, is it true that sheep are just wandering around looking for a chance to die (in this case by nibbling the wrong leaf?) If so, how is it that wild sheep still live in these parts? :idunno
the internet is blowing it up. sheep are very flexible. if they eat just that one plant, like horse tail for days that would be an issue but keep there diet diverse and one plant balances out the next from my experience. my sheep eat anything they come by. just don't let them browse just one kind of plant.
 
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