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New to sheep first day

Discussion in 'Behaviors & Handling Techniques - Sheep' started by ashley carro, Apr 2, 2018.

  1. Apr 2, 2018
    ashley carro

    ashley carro Chillin' with the herd

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    so yesterday I was so happy I picked up my New Mexico Dahl lambs, 3 ewes one ram. They are so cute, but little devils at the same time. They want nothing to do with people are wild and today escaped and I had to chase them they the neighborhood.
    The guy I got them from said a 4ft fence was fine, half my property has a 4 ft fence the other half 6 foot. This morning they jumped out of their enclosure we were keeping in to acclimate them, it’s a very large horse stall. They then jumped my 4 ft fence and were off.
    Very frustrating. Has anyone needed electrical fencing? They hit one side of my fence so hard the post was pushed over.
    I don’t know if I should sell them or figure out their enclosure not to mention try to tame them. I decided on sheep instead of goats bc I was told they were more docile and less destructive.
    Overwhelmed
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2018
  2. Apr 2, 2018
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    I looked them up. There are Texas Dahl sheep that are raised for hunting clubs. They are more like feral or wild sheep than your backyard pets. Maybe they are a lot like the New Mexico Dahl sheep? While I admire you for wanting to help save a heritage breed, maybe for a first sheep you could try a different breed.

    I have Dorper/Katahdin mixed breed hair sheep. They are docile and not destructive at all. They are easy to keep, don't challenge fences, and took a little time, but most of them want their scratches and rubs.

    The horns on a mature Dahl sheep would deter me from having them. My sheep are polled. A ram that I had butted me a couple of times, would hate to get hit by a ram armed with horns like that!

    There are wool breeds that are also more docile and tame.

    Your sheep are bouncing off the walls, jumping the fence and acting wild. No wonder you are overwhelmed. You envisioned friendly pet sheep and you got wild ones. I feel like the breeder could have done a better job of educating you about the breed and it's behaviors.
     
    Donna R. Raybon and mysunwolf like this.
  3. Apr 3, 2018
    ashley carro

    ashley carro Chillin' with the herd

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    I agree I think the reason why many do not keep these sheep is because they are not pet friendly so to say. They are supposed to be more docile per the few keepers that own them, but that must definitely come with age. When I I initially went to the farm to see them the grown ewes and the Rams seemed docile. We walked with them, though only a few would come up to us, most did want to be alone. I went a second time when the lambs were I initially born and the mothers were still docile but kept a few feet away with their lambs which seemed normal. When I went to pick up different story with the lambs the ones that were away from their mothers were wild, not docile like the others, but I guess that’s expected when first taken away from the mother. I am going to see how it goes and if they prove too much I’ll sell them.
     
  4. Apr 3, 2018
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    I hope they settle down for you, but if they don't please don't give up on sheep! Anything you need, just come to the forum and ask, someone will come along and answer. This is a friendly group of people that likes to help others.
     
  5. Apr 4, 2018
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    I think @farmerjan raises that or a similar breed for hunting clubs/preserves. She might be able to provide some insight. IMHO you're basically trying to raise a "wild" animal as a domesticated/pet animal. No offense but you'd probably be better served with a more domesticated breed. The "wilder" breeds of goats and sheep are quite "bouncy" and can clear a 4' fence if they so choose and most use hot wire to keep what's in - in, and what's supposed to stay out - out. Hope you get it figured out.
     
  6. Apr 4, 2018
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    @farmerjan raises Texas Dahl Sheep and she would be the one to help you with your Sheep.
     
  7. Apr 4, 2018
    farmerjan

    farmerjan True BYH Addict

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    Hi and welcome to the forum. I do not know of "New Mexico Dahl " sheep but am going to assume they are very similiar to the White Texas Dall (Dahl) sheep we raise.
    First off, if the lambs are bottle raised, they can be FAIRLY tame. Some are just as tame as any other bottle raised baby. If they are raised on the ewe, NO. They are considered a semi-wild breed or feral type sheep. They are not for first timers to get started with. Not to put you down in any way.

    They are very athletic as you found out, can easily clear a fence if so inclined, but I am wondering if yours didn't go under the fence as they will find the smallest spot and scoot under. They are very flock oriented and do not settle well when moved around. We have some ewes that will try to "go through" my 6'6" son if they feel threatened or are trying to get out of the pen. We have had these for over 25 years. If you have them in contained pens where they are totally dependent on you for feed and water, meaning little or no grazing, they will get more familiar but for the most part they are not the kind of sheep you want if you want friendly sheep. The same goes for breeds like Barbados Black Belly sheep and Mouflons. They are not for pets for the most part.

    As I said, if bottle raised then they do not learn the "flight" instinct as much. We have a couple that were bottle raised and they are kept because they will come to a bucket and we can move and catch the others with these couple of "tame ones" in there. They are quite tame. Yet when they lamb, the lambs are not as friendly even raised by the friendly ewes.

    We raise the rams for their "horns". They go to hunting preserves. The lambs that do not meet the criteria, are sold during different ethnic holidays. The meat is very lean and good, but they also do not gain like a domestic breed of sheep.

    We can go out with a bucket of feed and they will all run up to get some but as soon as you move to go to another feed pan, most will run away 5-10 feet. You cannot pet them except for the bottle raised "pets".

    My son tries to tag them within the first 2-3 hours because after that he usually cannot catch the lambs. Sometimes he can catch them unawares, but if they go 24 hours without being tagged, then he has to get them into a catch pen to literally trap them to tag.

    We do have standard 4 foot woven wire fencing. Don't have much trouble with them trying to go over; but it is within 2 inches of the ground or they will find a spot to go under. Or a spot to go through it if there is a small hole. We run them in a small pen and right on the cattle trailer that they cannot get out of, to work them. Then we will grab them and work them, trim feet, worm, or whatever. Would not want to try to work them if they were not in something that had strong sides and a roof over it.

    The rams can weigh over 150 lbs and it takes all my son can do to hold one when we are measuring their horns. We have to do that in order to market them. We have beef cattle and he is not only tall but strong. I would not even attempt to try to hold a ram by myself.

    They ARE NOT MEAN, they are just a semi-wild breed and are not for someone who doesn't have any experience with sheep.

    We used to raise Horned Dorset sheep. Loved them. Love the horns. But there was no market for the wool. They are a domestic breed and very tame. Have had several other breeds over the years. Just like the horns. So when a friend who was into exotics, told him about these, he got some and that was it.

    Sheep are for the most part easier on fences than goats, don't do the "climbing" on everything like goats. There are several "hair breeds". Dorpers are the most meat, katadins and st. croix are others. I don't know much about the temperments except that the Dorpers are pretty good.
     
  8. Apr 11, 2018
    AimeeDx

    AimeeDx Ridin' The Range

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    I suggest making a fairly small paddock, and lock them in, soon they will run out of grass, and this is where you come in with some hay, don't sit right next to it, but just somewhere in the vicinity of it. Let the sheep come to you. then once they are comfortable, over time, move closer and closer, then only feed then from your hand. I used this technique with my extremely wild sheep, I can now just walk into the paddock and go and pat them. Good luck!
     
  9. Apr 28, 2018
    ashley carro

    ashley carro Chillin' with the herd

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    Hi everyone

    Update about 1 month later. We refenced the lamb area with 5 foot horse fence, and have had no problems with them getting out. They are settling down. They will come up to me and my boyfriend even take grass or weeds from our hands. I think with time they will fit right in. I’ll have to say the fiRst week was a little stressful but now that both us and the sheep are getting used to each other I think everything should go well.
     
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  10. Apr 28, 2018
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses True BYH Addict

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    That's great to hear! Not only because you have been able to socialize them but because you took the time to do so and not just give up on them. Great job! :clap
     
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