New to sheep/goats - a strange request

ConcernedSheep

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Hi all! Came here from BackyardChickens, as I know very little about sheep & goats and I have some questions I'm hoping some of you might be willing to help with.

My partner and I rent a house with a 1.5 acre pasture. The landlord allows a neighbor to graze his flock on our pasture (mixed katahdin/dorper/American blackbelly, as far as I can tell). We knew about this when we moved in, and in fact it was one of the factors that drew us to rent this property, as we are animal lovers and hope to one day have our own little "homestead." I have some concerns about the way the owner cares for his flock, but since I know so little about these animals I wanted to get some input from others to either reassure me or validate those concerns. I'll put the TL;DR husbandry list here, with my detailed questions below for those who don't mind reading my ramblings or want more details.
  • There are currently 19 animals on our 1.5 acres, 2 goats and 17 sheep (3 rams and 14 ewes).
  • As far as I can tell, he feeds them mainly bread, which he dumps over the fence onto the grass every 1-2 days.
  • He does not supplement them with minerals at all as far as I can tell. There is no salt lick, and the only thing he ever brings them is bread.
  • One of the goats is always lame, and has hooves that overgrow. Her coat is also in terrible condition and she looks obese. (The 2nd goat seems healthy but has only been introduced a couple of months ago).
  • Many of them constantly have crusty eyes and snotty/crusty noses. Several of the lambs have very crusty eyes. The adults sneeze out the biggest snot rockets I've ever seen (sorry for the visual).
  • Some of the sheep have very dramatic "coughing" fits. I have read that they may do this to cough up their "cud" and re-chew it, but I am concerned about the severity/duration of these coughing fits.
  • There is no pasture rotation or maintenance whatsoever.
  • The stools in the pasture seem soft, not like hard pellets. More like small cow patties.
Here are my main concerns:
  • Is this pasture overstocked? And is 3 rams to 14 ewes an acceptable ratio? Last year there were 2 rams and 3 ewes, and they've just been allowed to breed uncontrolled since then. He introduced 2 new rams last fall and slaughtered the older 2. One of the 3 rams is a lamb from last year who now may mate with his sister/mother? Is this a normal method of flock management, allowing rams to stay with the ewes year-round and breed at-will?
  • There is a trough of something that looks like nut shells(?) that he keeps topped up, but they get no pelleted/formulated food, hay, or anything like that. We're in CA, so our pastures are green now but will quickly dry out and their diet is 100% bread year-round, served on the ground and allowed to spoil. What are the implications of this diet?
  • What level of "crustiness" is acceptable in a sheep/goat? And their coughing fits... I've tried searching YouTube to figure out what's normal and what's not, but the videos I've seen of goats/sheep coughing up cud don't look nearly as dramatic as the fits these ones have. When they cough, it's a whole body affair, tails swinging, backs arching, in quick succession, *COUGH*-*COUGH*-*COUGH*-x10. I'm worried they may have chronic pneumonia from the moldy bread, or lungworm? Does anyone know where I can find better reference videos to tell the difference between normal/abnormal coughing?
  • What are the true dangers of this laissez-faire method of pasturing sheep & goats together without supplementing minerals? He mentioned to me that he brought in the male goat because the rams weren't impregnating the female goat. I laughed at first, thinking surely that was a joke, then realized he was serious... so I am not sure he knows much more than I do about goat husbandry. (I know about geep but... come on).
  • One of the ewes lambed about a week ago, and retained the placenta for >2 days. He visited daily during that time to drop off bread, and did nothing about it until I called our landlord and said he needed to tend to her. (He never checks the ewes/lambs, we would inform him when they lambed and he was like "oh okay"). He finally did remove her placenta (who knows how 😣), but we noticed turkey vultures in the pasture later that day and discovered a stillborn lamb (probably from days prior) that he had left in the field to rot. Since he did not pick it up when he tended to the ewe, we informed the landlord and she assured us he would come pick up the remains. However, nearly a week later we discovered recently that he had never picked it up (we saw the skin/legs/spine in the field, now picked clean). This is all near where he's fed the herd several times since. These are animals intended for human consumption, am I overreacting in thinking this is unacceptable to feed them next to carrion?? What are the health risks/implications? He shared meat with us from the first 2 rams he slaughtered, now I am thinking we should stop eating it??
Anyway, I'm sorry this is so long, I am trying to do more research myself as well... We've tried several times to talk to him and our landlord, informed him every time one of the animals is coughing, sickly, injured, etc. and he just doesn't seem concerned. I'm hoping the folks here can help me understand if this is all normal/acceptable, or if there are some red flags here. If this isn't the right place to post this, or it needs to be moved, please let me know also!
 
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Mini Horses

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I'll be first to say that your concerns are valid. The care is not acceptable or adequate. The pasture is not large enough for those numbers as the sole area, 24/7. Feed issues sound to be a concern. Goat is most likely pregnant now with buck added.

You are in a peculiar situation as the landlord obviously is not a farmer ( no concerns), probably receives income from pasture use AND animal owner is not a good Shepard. However, if reported to authorities both will be angry with you. Move. I can't see that either of them will change.

I applaud your concerns. I don't see a resolution since your original rental agreement was with the understanding that a portion of the total property was already let to another. You have no recourse in respect to the use or control of that property. You do have the right to ask the local police animal authority to review the animal care -- back to paragraph 2. 🥴
 

Baymule

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This is terrible treatment. As @Mini Horses said,, you are in a predicament. The owner of sheep is stupid and doesn’t care. The small field is grossly overstocked. Rams and a buck left in to breed indiscriminately is wrong. Feeding bread to sheep is not adequate and not healthy. These animals are sick. Probably wormy too.

If you turn him in, the landlord will be mad at you, so will he. I don’t think you are the kind of person to just watch the poor animals starve-that’s coming- no grass, feed or hay. You should move. Leave, then turn him in. Take pictures of any dead animals, bread on the ground, or abuse. Stop complaining to landlord, she is an idiot too. Get out of there.

This situation has nowhere to go but down.

Once you are gone, you can make the decision to turn him in or not.
 

secuono

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None of that is okay as is.
Is there a contract that you agreed to when you bought the land?
If not, send him a certified, notarized letter of eviction! He needs to go and so do his sickly animals if you're ever to have your own. You won't learn anything positive from his animals, unless you start caring for them yourself, which you should not do.
 

Baymule

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None of that is okay as is.
Is there a contract that you agreed to when you bought the land?
If not, send him a certified, notarized letter of eviction! He needs to go and so do his sickly animals if you're ever to have your own. You won't learn anything positive from his animals, unless you start caring for them yourself, which you should not do.

The OP is renting.
 

SageHill

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Well, I'm with everyone else on this. Time to move.
Though - there is one thing that you can do (though $$) if you cannot move and want to set your mind at ease somewhat. You can feed them. Though you'd probably be looking at 1 to 2 bales of alfalfa (if that ok for goats goat folks?) a DAY. I think you said your in CA - and I'm only guessing So Cal since you said it won't be green for much longer (though that would also apply for central CA). Down here in So Cal a bale of alfalfa is between $20-$25.
Just putting it out there as an option - though not a cheap or even affordable option esp if it's coming out of your pocket, and of course here in CA God only knows what implications feeding someone else's livestock are.
 

ConcernedSheep

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Thank you all for your input. Your validation is helpful, even if it's not exactly easy to hear.

We've lived here for about a year now, so considering the situation is as bad as I feared (and getting worse) I'm surprised none of the animals have died yet besides the stillborn lamb.

We have written a letter detailing our concerns about their care to the landlord, and she has offered to have the owner remove them from the property, which leaves us with mixed feelings knowing they will just be neglected elsewhere. Until this most recent incident with the lamb, I've believed that I can ease their suffering in small ways (such as cleaning their water trough regularly, giving mineral supplements to the goats, giving them enrichment toys, etc.) but it seems things are getting to a point where I cannot be complicit in this level of abuse anymore.

I really appreciate the time you all took to give us this feedback. I am heartbroken, but it's nice to know that we're not overreacting. Unfortunately finding a new place to rent in California is no simple task, so I doubt we will leave, especially since the landlord is willing to back us up. But we at least feel more confident standing our ground that this level of care is unacceptable and the owner must shape up or lose the free grazing space for his animals.
 

ConcernedSheep

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Well, I'm with everyone else on this. Time to move.
Though - there is one thing that you can do (though $$) if you cannot move and want to set your mind at ease somewhat. You can feed them. Though you'd probably be looking at 1 to 2 bales of alfalfa (if that ok for goats goat folks?) a DAY. I think you said your in CA - and I'm only guessing So Cal since you said it won't be green for much longer (though that would also apply for central CA). Down here in So Cal a bale of alfalfa is between $20-$25.
Just putting it out there as an option - though not a cheap or even affordable option esp if it's coming out of your pocket, and of course here in CA God only knows what implications feeding someone else's livestock are.

I bought a bag of Goat Mineral and have been giving that to the goats a few times a week for the last couple of months... I roll it up in lettuce leaves like a cigar and they love it 😂 At least trying to combat what I suspect is major mineral deficiencies in the doe. But it's a losing battle, and I know that now. I've really struggled with not wanting to tell someone else how to care for their animals, but I think someone needs to tell him! I've learned more in the last few months than I think he knows, and god only knows how long he's been raising them this way 😞 I know it's tricky when the animals belong to someone else, and we have mentioned things to him in the past, but like I said he just hasn't seemed very receptive... maybe we haven't been firm enough, which is why we're firming up now.
 

secuono

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The OP is renting.
I missed that.
Guess them using the land has to be in their lease and they agreed to it.
Guess they need to turn their eyes away and ignore it or keep track and report to AC once they have a ton of evidence. Though, they rarely care when it comes to livestock.
 
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