Sunday, 3 May 2015

Getting The Sheep In For The First Time

I've been checking the sheep everyday like a good pretend shepherd. 
One ewe has been a little bit lame on her back leg since she arrived, so with the arrival of some of the old hurdles from dads farm I decided it was time to round them up for the first time to have a closer look.
 When I lived on the farm we used to get them in using a scrabbler (dirt bike to the Americans) but there's no such luxury this time. 
We had to do it on foot. 
I made a large pen with a line of hurdles (and the tractor) forming a funnel out into the field and then herded them along the fence line. 
Our neighbours Ken and Liz came and lent a hand to get them in, along with my sister, wife and two little ones, even with all of them it still took us two attempts, but the second time they went in easy.
Hopefully they'll get a bit more used to the bucket and come with the prospect of food, but at the moment there's too much grass for them to bother with a handful of grain!
Trimming feet - so it begins! 
 I was pleased we got them in easy and also pleased that I managed to catch and roll a sheep over - I hadn't forgotten how to do it! I had forgotten how heavy sheep are and how much of a fight they put up. Once they're sat down in the hold in the picture above, they normally stay pretty still. My wife commented that they stay far stiller than our daughters when we're trying to do their nails! I trimmed a few feet and then let them go back into the field.
The eldest daughter getting used to the sheep - she likes the lambs!
Of course as they went out into the field I could see that I'd trimmed the wrong feet and the one was still lame! Looks like I'll be getting them in again this week! 
To be honest it's not a bad thing to get them used to being rounded up and being handled. 
I'm still planning on getting a few more sheep yet and building on the flock, I'm really pleased with the ewes I've got so far.
Anyone else planning on keeping sheep?

29 comments:

  1. I am afraid keeping sheep on my property would break town ordinance. Looks like fun though.

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    1. Breaking the rules can be fun to! There is some tight town rules in the US.

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  2. I have two....and thats enough

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    1. That's why I went for twenty, it's as hard looking after a few as a lot.

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  3. Hmmmm! T'goodladywife would like a couple of Oesants... these are self-catering, brown rugs on legs... allegedly sheep... but must have a bit of "goa"t in there somewhere... they are, it would appear from reading up, some of the most bloody-minded animals going....
    think sheepdog trials and that one sheep that will NOT go in't'pen....
    these are three or four times as bad!!

    As I am the one who will be looking after them...
    NOT ON YOUR NELLY!!

    But, why aren't you training up a nice, obedient BC to do all the hard work... your gals would love one!!

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    1. I've not met a nice boarder colly yet! the girls are still a bit too young for a dog although it is on the cards. As for Oesants I'd just go for a commercial variety to start with and then build as your experience increases! Most sheep are bloody minded enough without people saying they are so those must be bad!

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  4. no sheep for me. people are always amazed when I say you can drag sheep around like that. it is like a cat with kittens by the scruff or when you hold a chicken by its legs upside down and they just play dead.

    sheep always have problems with their feet. Goats wear their own feet down. but sheep dont seem to. I am all for eating them but keeping them. no not for me. Now pigs. Theres a beast I would like to keep.

    lol wait till tupping. The younger ones make me laugh.

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    1. sheeo will wear their feet down on hills and high ground where they were from. My land is pretty low lying so no dout I'll be doing it quite often. Some is much better drained than the other though.
      Carrying a lamb by it's two front feet is always one that makes people think your being cruel!

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  5. We had to round up our sheep and our French mentor/shepherd ran around the field with his dog after our tiny flock to no avail. Then OH just rattled the feed bucket and they came instantly, much to Jean-Louis' amazement. The first new thing he had learned since he was a boy, and the one and only time we got it right and he didn't!

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  6. We had to round up our sheep and our French mentor/shepherd ran around the field with his dog after our tiny flock to no avail. Then OH just rattled the feed bucket and they came instantly, much to Jean-Louis' amazement. The first new thing he had learned since he was a boy, and the one and only time we got it right and he didn't!

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    1. Make sure you're always learn is key to being happy. I've started chucking a handful of corn by the sheep and they've started to come up to it. Should make things easier in the future!

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  7. I would like to have sheep, but right now we have some Angus cows for beef. I am looking forward to seeing their progression on your farm.

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    1. Yeah it should be interesting. Never really kept cows, we had four when I was younger but that was a long time ago.

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  8. I love having my sheep. They are very much used to being yarded and come when whistled- they know there is a bucket of something tasty waiting. It's the easiest way I've found to manage them- they chase the shepherd not the other way around.

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    1. Yeah I think that will be a much easier way. I need to adapt to having twenty sheep compared to 250 when I was growing up. some methods are easier with larger flocks and some aren't.

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  9. Just the one sheep here Lambert but Martin is still talking about a small flock, time is the problem as I said here as I told he has to be here to look after them, yours are looking good are you going to shear them yourself :-)

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    1. Not sure about shearing yet. I don;t want to cut them from my poor shearing! It might pay to learn as there are never enough shearers and might bring in some evening work if I wanted it.

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  10. I would need to invest in lots of sheepwire and get the brambles sprayed to stop the sheep getting caught up in them. We had ten sheep once. Never again. Give me cattle any day.

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    1. The brambles are under control here. We had sheep for years growing up and never had a problem with brambles like that.

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  11. We had 4 Ryelands and a ram and wether for several years. All good fun except for checking in the night for lambing , Fly strike and foot trimming!

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    1. I have a friend who keeps on to me to get Ryelands! I wanted good meat lambs though so they're out! There are certainly jobs not to look forward to when keeping sheep!

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  12. We only seem to have hoof problems when it's wet and the sheep stay in the same paddock. When it's dry and the girls move or especially trot down the gravel drive to another paddock they give those sides that like to grow around and under a good wearing. I think sheep were just designed to walk further for food than they have to now adays.

    The only time I ever have problems moving the sheep is when they are still very young but old enough to be fast little buggers since grain isn't as important to them yet and when I have to separate the flock. Like dividing the ewes between rams after about the fourth or fifth ewe the others don't trust me anymore. Otherwise I can usually get the entire flock to follow me just by calling them or if that doesn't work grabbing a bucket. Our sheep are complete grain crazy gluttons though. They would almost offer up their necks for a bite of grain.

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    1. It does get wet here and stay wet for a long while. I have to fight the reeds coming up most years.
      As for moving them I just need to get them used to me. I think they've been worked by a dog in the past and I can see them looking for one as I walk them up. As for dividing them up I've had to man handle everyother sheep out of a pen before now (dad doing the other) to get them to go where you want. Having plenty of gates helps, then you can make a good sized race to run them along.

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  13. I love having sheep, but with hubs working away all week, will have to wait a while. They can be a mighty pain though. However, mutton is a favourite with us.

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    1. I do love the taste. I also just love having them in the field and a great easy job is to walk round them and check them each day.

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  14. I read the post twice, thinking I must have missed it, but I didn't see anything about what that green stuff is on them?

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    1. The green stuff is just a marking spray. When the ewe give birth the ewe and lamb are given a number for quick identification when they're let out. that way if you loose a lamb then you can get the ewe and make sure she dries out and doesn't get mastitis.

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  15. Yes, I think we will be getting a couple, to keep the grass down in the paddock and to fill the freezer/barter with once a year.

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  16. I love sheep and years ago when I lived on a farm in Wisconsin we had 80 head. My problem is that I considered most of them pets and had a hard time when they had to go to market. I'd have a couple now if I didn't live in town. I enjoy your blog and all the photos.

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