New sheep - feed transition

Stephine

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If you don't mind the sheep pellets, then there is plenty of room for the sheep. I have a 2001 outback and would not have any considerations to bring home 3 lambs. I have brought home 3 newborn holstein bull calves in it....The sheep would most likely not even think about trying to get through that small a spot. Especially with 3, they have each other for company.
Going to just a grass hay would be fine. At 5 months they have much of their growth so not like you are going to be stunting them. Feed a little grain, just a very little, for the first few days to help them acclimate to their new "quarters". Then you might want to just feed a handful once or twice a week to keep them coming to you calling them... keep them friendlier. You want to give them something when you call them... some sort of a treat or reward for doing as you want them. With our cattle, we always give them something when we call them.... buckets are GREAT motivators.... after a week or so where they can get some grass, they should be fine with just grass. You will have less problems with too abrupt changes in their manure which is an indication of a sudden change in diet.
Just like you should not go from eating all solid type meals to eating all fruit.... gradual over a week or so will be much kinder. The gut bacteria will adjust with more gradual change over...
Perfect! Thanks so much! I have chickens and used to have bunnies so I have learned about no abrupt diet changes. So I think I will get some of that Sheep Keeper stuff, it has alfalfa and grain in it, hopefully they think it’s a treat - and their tummies are definitely used to it.
I trained my chickens to come when called - I can do the same for the sheep. Yes, treats every time is the key! with the chickens I just started by throwing seeds while calling „put put put“ (that’s how we call chickens in German 😄). They are rock solid now and newcomers learn from the older ones...
One more thing - I need to take them to their night time shelter in the barn every night, and then back to their pasture in the morning. Should I get halters or collars? I figure leading them might be less stressful than being driven? Maybe just for me! 😁
 

farmerjan

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I see more sheep with halters and more goats with collars. They might just follow you with a bucket? What do you have to go through to take them??? Through another pasture, along a road? That would probably determine. I would say to lead with halters probably safer than collars.
Sounds like you have a good idea of the correct/least stressful way to do the feed etc. Good luck with your new guys.
 

Stephine

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Mine eat all the leafy parts and seedheads, leaving the bare stems for me to deal with. 😑 I can't even put 5 ponies on 0.3-0.4 acres of stems, because they'll still get fat off it...So I mow the stems.
What breed are they? Should of asked that first. Babydoll should do fine on grass or grass hay/pellets alone, but other breeds may need more protein or in general a lot more food intake than others. My Corriedale had to be free fed alfalfa pellets, while my BFL/Cheviot was fine on pasture with the Babydolls. Their Babydoll crossed mutt lambs have been fine treated like Babydoll.
Complete feeds should have all the minerals they need, but I'm assuming that from experience with horse feeds. Idk if it's true for sheep feed. If it is, then you wouldn't need to feed much else, besides loose hay for gut mobility.
I've switched to Kalmbach sheep mineral vs premier1 sheep mix this year. No more mixing plain salt with the minerals, yay. It's salt and minerals together, ready to pour into buckets. It also has something in it which helps with selenium absorption.
I feed pasture, grass or alfalfa pellets and hay, not complete sheep feed, so they need the minerals in the salt. Yours might not need it if fed the complete feed, but then you'd have to follow the bag for pounds of feed a day per sheep to equal the right amount of vits and minerals.
They‘re babydolls. I was not planning on feeding complete feed - I figure it would be more expensive than hay and a mineral/salt supplement, no? Otherwise I don’t really care. Pellets would probably take up less space in the barn... But I thought hay was healthier?
If they don’t like the dried stems, they won’t have much to eat there, because all the seeds have fallen and stems is all that’s left. We have the same issue with the resident horse - she can’t be on it because she would get too fat... 🤨
 

Stephine

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I see more sheep with halters and more goats with collars. They might just follow you with a bucket? What do you have to go through to take them??? Through another pasture, along a road? That would probably determine. I would say to lead with halters probably safer than collars.
Sounds like you have a good idea of the correct/least stressful way to do the feed etc. Good luck with your new guys.
Great, halters then! They don’t have to go far, just down our driveway, within our fully deer fenced property, so nothing dangerous. But they can’t just walk about because we have garden beds we don’t want them in... and a new orchard, so the trees are still short.
I‘ll see how much of a magnet the feed bucket will be. If they really stick to me, I might not need to put them on leads.
 

Baymule

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Our place is fully fenced in. I have two pastures connected to the sheep barn. I have a pasture across the driveway. I have 3 horses, sometimes I move the horses and take the sheep to one of the horse pastures.
To move my sheep, I use a red plastic coffee can half full of whole corn. They love whole corn. I put a pan in whatever pasture I’m moving them to. I shake the can with them yelling in the barn and lot. Believe me, they KNOW what’s in the can! I walk to the pasture, open the gate and pour corn in the pan. All the while I’m shrieking SHEEP!! SHEEP! SHEEP!! The sheep are BAA BAA BAAING. I open the gate, they stampede to the pasture and gobble up the corn. In the evening, I put feed in their trough, yell SHEEP SHEEP SHEEP and open the gate. They stampede back to their barn.

Yuo don’t need halters. Once they know you, they know you bring feed, they will be your friend. Give them whole corn or another treat. Until they figure out the system, you can lead them with a coffee can of feed. Always call them and always reward them for coming or following you.

Get a short stool that puts you at eye level to the sheep. Then you aren’t a tall scary monster. Sit still, be calm, talk to them and offer a treat. Eventually they will eat from your hand. Then they trust you and you can lead them anywhere with a can of feed. When you go to feed them, call them so that they associate your call with feed. It won’t take long for them to follow you anywhere.
 

Stephine

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Our place is fully fenced in. I have two pastures connected to the sheep barn. I have a pasture across the driveway. I have 3 horses, sometimes I move the horses and take the sheep to one of the horse pastures.
To move my sheep, I use a red plastic coffee can half full of whole corn. They love whole corn. I put a pan in whatever pasture I’m moving them to. I shake the can with them yelling in the barn and lot. Believe me, they KNOW what’s in the can! I walk to the pasture, open the gate and pour corn in the pan. All the while I’m shrieking SHEEP!! SHEEP! SHEEP!! The sheep are BAA BAA BAAING. I open the gate, they stampede to the pasture and gobble up the corn. In the evening, I put feed in their trough, yell SHEEP SHEEP SHEEP and open the gate. They stampede back to their barn.

Yuo don’t need halters. Once they know you, they know you bring feed, they will be your friend. Give them whole corn or another treat. Until they figure out the system, you can lead them with a coffee can of feed. Always call them and always reward them for coming or following you.

Get a short stool that puts you at eye level to the sheep. Then you aren’t a tall scary monster. Sit still, be calm, talk to them and offer a treat. Eventually they will eat from your hand. Then they trust you and you can lead them anywhere with a can of feed. When you go to feed them, call them so that they associate your call with feed. It won’t take long for them to follow you anywhere.
Ha! I’ll probably have to be sitting on the ground to be at eye level with these little guys... I will do that. sounds like I would not normally need the halters once they get a bit of a routine and learn about treats. I still want to halter train them though, because we get wildfires and evacuation orders at least every other summer/fall now....
Boy, it did not use to be like that... We almost never had fires here before 2017...
 

Cotton*wood

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It won't take long for them to be so comfortable with you that they'll lie down next to you in the shade and put their heads on your lap.....
 

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Stephine

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I'd put a tarp and something absorbent (like straw or hay) in the back of your car in case they pee. Pellets are one thing, but urine quite another.
Good point! I have a rubber liner back there (normally that’s where our dog travels) so it’s protected but I’ll throw some old towels on top, in case of puddles.
 

Baymule

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It won't take long for them to be so comfortable with you that they'll lie down next to you in the shade and put their heads on your lap.....
I keep a lawn chair in the pasture where the 9 young replacement ewes and 1 wether are. I sit down and they come up to me for scratches, long strokes on their necks, lots of attention. I need more hands! Sometimes they wander off, sometimes they lay down next to me. It is humbling that they trust me enough to be comfortable to lay down next to me.

The wether was a bottle baby, have more in milk than what we could ever get $$$$ for him, besides we fell in love with him, so banded him. Far from being useless, he is the calming influence on the youngsters. He is not afraid, so they aren't. He runs to my call, the youngsters follow. He is the same age as the young ewes are. Next year, I'll put him with the weaned lambs and see if we can repeat this.
 
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