How to gradually make a small flock of sheep tamer?

goats&sheep19

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So some of you may know that I got my first very small flock of sheep a little while ago; three ewes and a wether.
The wether was going to be a meat sheep, but now I'm thinking I may need to keep him, as he is the only one who is a bit more trusting, and makes moving them between paddocks so much easier.
A farmer we know has offered us a good, but older, ram to start out with, as I really want lambs next year.
My question is, I would like for the flock as a whole to be easier to handle, i.e. not so wary of anything on two legs, to make it easier when moving them between paddocks, hoof trimming, shearing, worming, you get the idea, and also as I want to use the wether lambs for meat, I don't want them to be scared of me when slaughter time comes around.
But I'm thinking the ewes will just pass their wariness on to their lambs...
I really like these sheep, and its just that they haven't been handled much as they grew up, but I don't want it to be passed on by example.
Any thoughts?
 

SageHill

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@Baymule is the best at this, and she can explain far better than I.
Food is the answer. sit around where they eat, don't make any moves. At this point I'd keep the wether -- see if he will take animal crackers (yeah those cracker/cookie things we ate as kids) from you. You can always let him see you drop one! I learned the animal cracker trick here :). I added 4 sheep to my flock last August -- took the seller over two weeks to get them in a trailer! Now they look to me for food and also to go out and graze (I do things a bit differently here - using one of my dogs to be 'traffic control' getting to an area as well as a 'moving fence'. When I do this they walk alongside me - getting used to me being close. I can easily get close to all four now, two of them will come when I call them by name (I never thought I'd call sheep - let alone name them!). All but 4 will now take crackers from me or some sort of treat. Of the 4 three will go to auction soon.
Good luck, hang in there and take your time, it probably will happen.
 

goats&sheep19

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@SageHill thanks for the reply!
They all get a small meal of lucerne chaff and sheep nuts in the evening, and they do come around for that, but the wether is the only one that will come right up, and even then if I turn to look at him he will back off; but I don't think it would take that much to get him to take a snack from me, so I'll try that!
And I will try at hang around a bit more when they are eating.
One of the ewes will come with in 5m, but the other two only come half way down the paddock and then wait till I have gone...if any of them see me at any other time they will bolt up the paddock.
What are the animal crackers? Are they sold for humans or animals? Sorry, little bit confused!
 

Baymule

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All that bragging on me! I’d better deliver the goods. LOL

Pen them at night. Cow panels make a quick and easy pen, half panel makes a gate. Do you have a barn? If so, close them up at night.

You may have to leave them penned, providing feed, hay and water, so that they look to you for food. They will not calm down in a paddock, they can run away from you.

I sit on the ground. That’s eye level, not threatening. Be still, talk softly and feed them. Posture should be soft, shoulders slumped, head down, not staring them in the eye.

I learned about animal crackers from @Mike CHS. They quickly become sheep cocaine. If the sheep don’t eat them, just leave some in their feed. Sooner or later they will eat them. Then they will decide they like them and want more.

Slow movement, soft non threatening posture, talk to them, call them when you feed them. They will learn to come to your voice and associate you with food.

@Ridgetop brought me 5 ewes, wild as a cottontail rabbit. LOL I have 2 eating out of my hand now, but they are strongly feed motivated. You have sheep that won’t even come to feed until you leave, that’s why I suggested a pen. IF you can get them to go in, with you at their “ comfort line”. Then every couple of days, slowly inch forward a foot or so. Hold that a couple of days, then inch forward again. Stay there while they eat. If they run at your talking to them, then sing.

Over time they will let you get closer, then shut the gate. It may take weeks, but they will eventually calm down.
 

farmerjan

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@Baymule has it down pat... but the trick as she said is they HAVE to look to you for food... they HAVE to be dependent on you... and then with no sudden moves etc... they will learn you are not the big bad wolf ready to eat them alive....the older they are the more easily they will revert towards skittish... but if they learn you are the "provider" they will remember alot of it... but it means not being able to let them out to run and you will spend some money while they are penned in so that they have to look to you for their food....
 

SageHill

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Animal Crackers -
ac1.jpg

Or more affordable and available at Walmart....
ac2.jpg


When I tamed my wild four I really didn't look at them - more my feet :lol:. I kept them in the barn in a 12x12 stall for a few days. They didn't tame up right away, it was gradual.
 
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