Let's Look at our Different Feeding Practices *SHEEP*

Gorman Farm

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Gorman,

Thank you for sharing your feeding practices! Wow, you must have the healthiest sheep on the planet...and our sheep must be living on barely-get-by-street!

To be honest with you, I admire your care and diligence in tending your sheep. But it must also be quite expensive.

I followed the books like clockwork last year...grain, vitamins, shots, minerals, etc. but still lost two sheep to pneumonia...and also had a reoccurring challenge with upper respiratory infections.

So this year, I tried something new...nearly opposite of what most of the books say to do...

No shelters...stopped all grain for months...no dried baled hay, no dried baled clover, and no dried baled alfalfa, no deworming, no CD&T vaccines, no minerals, no vitamins, etc....most lambs were born during horrific rain storms and often when it was quite cold, newborns laying on the ground like ugly little very wet rug rats...

We simply left the sheep out in the field or the forest for the entire winter...and left them to fend for themselves for the great majority of the winter...

I think some people would call all this borderline animal cruelty....while others might call it organic and natural...all's I know, I am not sure what to call it but I am sure of the results!

RESULTS:

1. Healthiest looking lambs we have ever had.
2. Highest numbers of twins we have ever had.
3. No sickness or illnesses or diseases.
4. Happy looking sheep.
5. Bank account went up, not down this time.

Lesson learned and moral of the story: Don't believe everything you read...even the most well read sheep books!
Gorman,

Thank you for sharing your feeding practices! Wow, you must have the healthiest sheep on the planet...and our sheep must be living on barely-get-by-street!

To be honest with you, I admire your care and diligence in tending your sheep. But it must also be quite expensive.

I followed the books like clockwork last year...grain, vitamins, shots, minerals, etc. but still lost two sheep to pneumonia...and also had a reoccurring challenge with upper respiratory infections.

So this year, I tried something new...nearly opposite of what most of the books say to do...

No shelters...stopped all grain for months...no dried baled hay, no dried baled clover, and no dried baled alfalfa, no deworming, no CD&T vaccines, no minerals, no vitamins, etc....most lambs were born during horrific rain storms and often when it was quite cold, newborns laying on the ground like ugly little very wet rug rats...

We simply left the sheep out in the field or the forest for the entire winter...and left them to fend for themselves for the great majority of the winter...

I think some people would call all this borderline animal cruelty....while others might call it organic and natural...all's I know, I am not sure what to call it but I am sure of the results!

RESULTS:

1. Healthiest looking lambs we have ever had.
2. Highest numbers of twins we have ever had.
3. No sickness or illnesses or diseases.
4. Happy looking sheep.
5. Bank account went up, not down this time.

Lesson learned and moral of the story: Don't believe everything you read...even the most well read sheep books!


Well if it ain't broke as they say..I don't think your style is cruel, just different.
We are new shepherds, we purchased our first sheep 2+ years ago from a veterinarian in Northern FL. I am sure we keep learning everyday about better practices. Some of what I do is "just because" and some is because of information we received from the University or my vet. I know we do not have to shelter our sheep, but we provide the barn it's open walk in type for hot sunny days (we don't have much shade in the pastures), and we have predators, bobcats, bears, coyotes here, so we close them in at night more for our piece of mind.
We are not making any $ on our sheep that is for sure, but it did help that we sold 3 rams last year.
My vet says I am the only client that does frequent fecals of all her customers. So far we have good parasite resistance but did have to worm the ewes after lambing last year. Oddly some of the sheep that scored lower on FAMACHA did not have a worm load at all so if we went by that test alone we would have wormed them needlessly.
So far no illness but realize it is inevitable one day we will face something.
Thank you for sharing your practices with me.
 

soarwitheagles

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Gorman,

Thank you for replying and sharing about your methods. We too are total rookies when it comes to livestock, so please do not take our example as something to be followed!

To be honest with you, I learned a lot from the good people right here at BYH. They have been super helpful and patient especially considering I have been a city slicker for most of my life and had absolutely no clue what I was doing...

Before embarking upon this sheep adventure, the only livestock I ever attempted to raise was two hamsters when I was 7 years old and that did not turn out so well...one of em' ate the head off the other...

I am super interested in your deworming techniques and especially how you perform the fecal test. I would like to learn how to do this test. Can you elaborate more please? We dewormed our sheep the day they arrived, then once more if I remember correctly.

I would like to ask you some questions if you don't mind...

1. What fecal testing kit are you using?
2. How expensive was it?
3. How easy or challenging is it to use it?
4. How much time is required to perform the tests?

I am not sure if we even have any worms here. We had several nights that went into the high 20's. Then massive rains too. I read somewhere that worms require or thrive on hot, humid environments. Not sure if this is true though...

BTW, we used Prohibit drench last time we did deworm and it was relatively easy to apply, but I learned that I should have taken some breaks during the process and not try to tackle the entire flock all in one shot.

Last, I am happy you have not had any sickness or illnesses and I hope your flock continues with such good health!
 

Gorman Farm

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I do not do the fecal tests my vet does them, they only cost $7 each. If I drop off the samples that is the only charge. If I am having her out for a farm call she does them on site with some kind of drops and a microscope. The results take about 5 minutes. You can spot check your herd if it is too big testing the ones that scored lower on FAMACHA.
Cydectin is what my vet used to worm them. Vet will not use Cydectin on young lambs they only get ivermectin if needed.
Barber pole worms are more active in warm wet climates like we have. Luckily for us there have never been sheep or goats on our property before we got here. I never put waste from cleaning the barn back in the pasture I use it to fertilize the grass in the yard and spread it there.
 

Bossroo

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When one emphasises PROFIT and SCIENCE as one's mode of animal husbandry practices instead of the notion that farm animals are pets, one is on the right track. Here is a shocker, just 50 years ago, 98+% of the sheep shown here would never have been raised beyond 5 months of age as they would have been sold as culls and slaughtered. The wise shepherd would only keep no more than 10- 20% of their ewe lambs as replacements and only purchase the top 1% of the ram crop as their herd sire. All less productive ewes would be culled annually as mutton or Cambells Soup. Today's books written by the so called "experts" would have been laughed at by the professional shepherds. While today the College textbooks written by PhDs in Animal Science and Veterinary medicine are gathering dust. I would definately keep up with all of the recomended vaccinations. Feeding quality alfalfa hay plus grains such as cracked corn , rolled barley and oats would be beneficial during periods of environmental stress to keep the ewes and their lambs in good condition. Especially in these very wet conditions , I would not only test for worms, but for liver flukes as well as these wet conditions are very favorable for their propagation. Losses could be heavy.
 

soarwitheagles

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Thank you for your reply Gorman, and sorry for the late reply...been way too busy here...

Our sheep are still "mowing " the neighbor's forest. Most of his property if filled with 10-14" grass, clover, forbs, etc. I am just a tiny bit concerned because now some of our ewes are coming back with signs of low level bloat on a nearly daily basis. But every morning, they appear to back to normal size. So not sure what to make of this...I will probably start a new post so I can find some good advice at BYH! This is the first time I have ever seen them with a little bloat. In the past I really admired them because they were always able to self monitor and never showed any signs of bloat...not sure what is going on now...
 

Gorman Farm

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Thank you for your reply Gorman, and sorry for the late reply...been way too busy here...

Our sheep are still "mowing " the neighbor's forest. Most of his property if filled with 10-14" grass, clover, forbs, etc. I am just a tiny bit concerned because now some of our ewes are coming back with signs of low level bloat on a nearly daily basis. But every morning, they appear to back to normal size. So not sure what to make of this...I will probably start a new post so I can find some good advice at BYH! This is the first time I have ever seen them with a little bloat. In the past I really admired them because they were always able to self monitor and never showed any signs of bloat...not sure what is going on now...

Wow bloat is really serious. I have not had to face anything like that. I heard that not turning them out onto lush new pasture until after the dew dries, and not leaving them all day helps prevent that. We have our own small pastures which we can close off to 3 sections, it has been a very dry winter so nothing too lush here. In the summer it is rainy season here and I literally have to mow some of the pasture, the sheep can't keep up or leave the bits they don't like.
 

Cloverleaf Farm

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I am brand new at sheep, I live in Central Oregon, which is high desert. A friend gave me two 4 year old Dorper / St. Croix cross ewes last summer. I had them bred to a Dorper / S.C. ram, and have 4 babies that are less than a month old. I also now have a pure Dorper ram lamb for this year's breeding.
We are on dry lot, so they get Timothy / Bluegrass mix twice a day, and once a day they get Purina Lamb Grower (14%). Moms are super fat. One of them likes to attack other sheep when she first has babies, so I can't put them all together yet. In another week or so I'm hoping to be able to turn them all out into my riding arena for more exercise.
I am vaccinating for CD-T, and they have free access to an iodized salt block.
I am trying to glean as much info as I can, luckily I have a couple of friends in the state that have had sheep for a while and seem to be "doing it right" and don't seem to mind my questions...I quickly figured out that the friend that gave me the ewes knows about as much as I do, despite having raised them for quite a while...
 

Gorman Farm

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I am brand new at sheep, I live in Central Oregon, which is high desert. A friend gave me two 4 year old Dorper / St. Croix cross ewes last summer. I had them bred to a Dorper / S.C. ram, and have 4 babies that are less than a month old. I also now have a pure Dorper ram lamb for this year's breeding.
We are on dry lot, so they get Timothy / Bluegrass mix twice a day, and once a day they get Purina Lamb Grower (14%). Moms are super fat. One of them likes to attack other sheep when she first has babies, so I can't put them all together yet. In another week or so I'm hoping to be able to turn them all out into my riding arena for more exercise.
I am vaccinating for CD-T, and they have free access to an iodized salt block.
I am trying to glean as much info as I can, luckily I have a couple of friends in the state that have had sheep for a while and seem to be "doing it right" and don't seem to mind my questions...I quickly figured out that the friend that gave me the ewes knows about as much as I do, despite having raised them for quite a while...

Check with your local farm extension office, they can tell you a lot. I use a loose mineral that is made for sheep that not only provides salt but other trace minerals they need. Ruminants need to graze to keep their gut moving so keep some forage for them to munch on through out the day.
 

Cloverleaf Farm

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Check with your local farm extension office, they can tell you a lot. I use a loose mineral that is made for sheep that not only provides salt but other trace minerals they need. Ruminants need to graze to keep their gut moving so keep some forage for them to munch on through out the day.

Thanks, I give them enough hay at each feeding that they always have something to munch on, so I suppose I should say that they get free choice hay, not that I feed twice a day :)
I do have a loose mineral, but I need to get some kind of heavier feeder to put it in that they can't knock over, it always ends up wasted on the ground...
 

soarwitheagles

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Wow bloat is really serious. I have not had to face anything like that. I heard that not turning them out onto lush new pasture until after the dew dries, and not leaving them all day helps prevent that. We have our own small pastures which we can close off to 3 sections, it has been a very dry winter so nothing too lush here. In the summer it is rainy season here and I literally have to mow some of the pasture, the sheep can't keep up or leave the bits they don't like.

Gorman Farm,

That is amazing how the seasons vary according to geographical location! Here, summers are incredibly dry and without water, everything on the ground turns brown, brown, dead brown.

Our sheep are doing well. It will not be long before everything turns brown and it usually occurs all within a 3 day period. Presently, we are continuing to experience rainfall that is breaking records. We do not have any snow at our ranch, but only two hours away, Kirkwood Ski Resort has had 57 feet of snow this year and presently has 11 ft. of snow on the ground. After 5+ years of a terrible drought, we have received record breaking snow and rainfall and we desperately needed it. There are parts of our Sierra Nevada mountain range that has broken all written records [dating back to the 1800's] for snow levels. God has had great mercy on us as a state.

Presently, our pastures are more luscious than anything I have ever seen...we now have 18-24 inches of grass, clover, chickory, bird's foot trevfoil, etc. in every pasture. I moved the sheep three days ago from the forest to the planted annual pastures. They are thriving.

Have a great day!
 
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