Lost Lambs - Help?

skeleroo

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I've been keeping sheep for a bit over three years now. We have 18 katahdin/blackbellies on 8 acres in southwest Florida. Yesterday we had a ewe drop two babies (they were quite small) and some time last night or early this morning something took off with them. I can't find one of them, but I did find the other headless in the back pasture. I don't know what it is that took them. We have hog wire up around the entire perimeter and it keeps the dogs out (we've had that problem before).

I've never lost babies and I'm feeling terrible. So what do I do? My husband and I have considered getting donkeys as flock guardians but I don't know anything about donkeys. Do they stay with the sheep? Our land is parceled out into three pastures that we've been keeping open and the animals just roam as they please. I suppose one option would bring them all into the front pasture (with the barn) at night and close them up there and at least they'd all be in the same vicinity if something were to come back.

We've also considered dogs, but we have a few brahmas that they cohabitate with that try to kill dogs if they get near them.

Any suggestions? Please help. Thank you.
 

YourRabbitGirl

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I've been keeping sheep for a bit over three years now. We have 18 katahdin/blackbellies on 8 acres in southwest Florida. Yesterday we had a ewe drop two babies (they were quite small) and some time last night or early this morning something took off with them. I can't find one of them, but I did find the other headless in the back pasture. I don't know what it is that took them. We have hog wire up around the entire perimeter and it keeps the dogs out (we've had that problem before).

I've never lost babies and I'm feeling terrible. So what do I do? My husband and I have considered getting donkeys as flock guardians but I don't know anything about donkeys. Do they stay with the sheep? Our land is parceled out into three pastures that we've been keeping open and the animals just roam as they please. I suppose one option would bring them all into the front pasture (with the barn) at night and close them up there and at least they'd all be in the same vicinity if something were to come back.

We've also considered dogs, but we have a few brahmas that they cohabitate with that try to kill dogs if they get near them.

Any suggestions? Please help. Thank you.
I know exactly how you feel, suddenly losing a pet is really devastating, let's face it, there's a big possibility that it was already a victim of a predator. so sad... I know...
 

Baymule

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Bringing them in at night would be the first thing to do. It could have been an owl, eagle, bobcat or cougar. A donkey won’t protect against those. A cougar killed 5 goats a mile from us and they had 3-4 donkeys.

You say you have brahmas, I am supposing you mean cattle. Obviously they aren’t protective of the sheep. Probably not coyotes, since they hate dogs, they might charge at coyotes. Whatever predator it was, it will be back. It has found a good source of food. A large bird of prey can carry off a new born lamb. Oh, I forgot about feral hogs. They will decimate your entire lamb crop.

Secure your sheep at night-in a Fort Knox predator proof barn. Maybe put up some game cameras so you know what you are dealing with. Once you know what predators you have, you can better figure out how to protect your sheep.

I wish you the best. Keep us updated.
 

MoreAU

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I totally agree with Baymule, bring them in at night. I also agree with the suggestion of putting them in the barn if you can, and add getting an lgd for the flock.

I have a 1/2 acre pen close to the house with 2 great pyrenees that I bring the sheep into every night. Even 50 feet from the house, I had some sort of big cat try to get them.The pyrenees fought it off, but took some damage in the process. I had a few hundred vet bill for the dog, but the cat didn't get a meal and I don't think it has tried again. I'm sure it's come looking, but one run in with the dogs and it doesn't want a rematch. The pen also has a loafing shed which I guess helps to stop aerial predators. I haven't had a problem with them, just the 4 legged kind.
 

Ridgetop

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It might have been a large owl since the lamb was small. That might account for the head disappearing while the body was left behind. If it lost the first kid's body that way, it might have come back for the second and successfully gotten it away. A bobcat wouldn't have taken the head and left the body uneaten. A large bobcat is capable of carrying off a small lamb. Dogs and coyotes could have come in and avoided the Brahmas. The cattle probably wouldn't have gone after them if they were not near them. Just because the Brahmas will attack dogs doesn't mean they will actively defend the sheep. Donkeys might bond with the sheep and protect them. Llamas also have been used as protection animals. These two species are most effective against coyotes and dogs. Cougar will take either of them. They also sleep at night.

Locking up the sheep in an enclosure at night close to your house might avoid losses. In particular when lambs are young or ewes are lambing this is a wise precaution. I would try this first. You will have to train them to come in at night but once they equate coming in with a small grain feeding, they will stampede in at dusk. It this doesn't work, or you start having daytime losses, then you will have to consider other solutions.

Can you put up a hot wire to isolate the Brahmas? Then you could get a guardian dog if your perimeter fencing is secure enough. The dog could get away from the cattle under the hot wire to safety. If you decide to get a guardian dog, I would recommend getting a trained adult. A puppy will be too dumb and innocent to avoid the Brahmas.

Too bad you are in Florida because I know someone in Idaho with several beautifully trained 19 month old Anatolians that are currently protecting against wolves, foxes, coyotes, bears, dogs, etc. She has 40 acres and has bred and trained these dogs herself on her own sheep and goats. She has too many Anatolians and wants to sell them since she has 10 working Anatolians. If anyone wants her information let me know - I don't get anything for sending anyone to her, I just know the dogs and their bloodlines and they are superb. She doesn't even know that I am putting this out.

If you do decide to buy a guardian dog, be sure to get one from parents that have been x-rayed for dysplasia. What Bay is going through with Sentry is heartbreaking. Good trained dogs from healthy trained parents are sometimes pricey but the cost of a dog with problems who can't work can cost a lot more in vet bills, lost stock, and most importantly, heartbreak. When figuring whether the dog is too expensive, I subtract the $$$ I lost in stock without one, then divide the remainder by 12 which is the number of years it will be able to work. The amount you will be paying each year of service is remarkable small.

After our last Pyr died of cancer we got sheep again. We decided not to get a guardian dog but to lock the sheep u at night in the barn. This worked well for the first year. The second year we were losing sheep during the day. By the time I located our Anatolian in Texas I had lost $3000.00 in ewes and lambs. I paid $2000 for Rika (18 months old and trained) and drove to Texas from California to get her. She has saved me a lot of dead sheep and lambs since. After 6 years I figure I still owe her that original $1000 difference between my losses and her cost!
:yesss:

First, if you don't have a barn of some sort to lock the sheep in, build a small pen near the house with a shelter for sun and rain. At least they will be safe at night because if they are close to the house you will hear anything after them. If they are tame, you can put bells on a couple of them. If anything chases them the bells will wake you up to protect them.
 

Baymule

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If you do decide to buy a guardian dog, be sure to get one from parents that have been x-rayed for dysplasia. What Bay is going through with Sentry is heartbreaking. Good trained dogs from healthy trained parents are sometimes pricey but the cost of a dog with problems who can't work can cost a lot more in vet bills, lost stock, and most importantly, heartbreak. When figuring whether the dog is too expensive, I subtract the $$$ I lost in stock without one, then divide the remainder by 12 which is the number of years it will be able to work. The amount you will be paying each year of service is remarkable small.

Amen to that. What we have spent on Sentry would have bought a registered, well bred puppy.
 
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