Monday, May 27, 2013

Care of Sheep With Horns

Some breads of sheep have horns. There are breads where just the rams have horns and others where the ram and ewe have them.
The sheep's horns will grow throughout their life with most growth during the first three years of their life.
The horn has blood flowing through it and will bleed alot if cut. The sheep's horns curl and spiral. Partial horns are called scurs. Many are of the opinon that the horns give more beauty to the sheep.

You must be extra careful when dealing with horned sheep. A puck from a horned sheep can do more damage than a polled headed sheep.
Don't bend over when feeding or maintaining the horned sheep, even the quiet sheep are capable of an unpredicted attack.
There must be care and maintenance done with the horns of the sheep.
The horned sheep can get themselves into trouble by getting their horns stuck in fences, feeders and trees. This can be distressing for the sheep if caught too long. It can put their lives at risk from predators etc.

Broken horns may need vetinarey assistence. There can be alot of blood  with a badly broken horn. You can apply syptic powder to stem the bleeding. Flys may be a problem.

Keep an eye on the horn growth. Dont let the horns grow too out of control. If the horns are bringing discomfort to the sheep it will need to be cut.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Docking Lambs Tails

Docking is the shortening of the lambs tail. A high percentage of farmers dock their lambs tails.
The sheep's tail protects its udder and vulva from weather extremes.
Some buyers do not like a docked lamb they prefer undocked especially some ethnic buyers.
Not all breads of sheep need to be docked, some breads have short tails such as the Icelandic and Shetland.
The docking of the lambs tail prevents fecal matter gathering on them.Docking the tail reduces the occurrence of wool maggots.
A lambs tail should be docked before they are 6 weeks of age.
You should not dock a wet lamb or in wet conditions to prevent infections.

The most popular and known as safest way to dock a lamb is to use RUBBER RINGS known as Banding

  • The lamb will experience some pain for 10 to 20 minutes
  • It is the best method for lay people
  • You use rubber rings and an elastrator tool to apply the rings
  • Be hygenic and do the procedure in a clean area to prevent infection
  • The tail is pulled through an open elastic band,it is released and then tightened on the tail cutting of the blood supply to the tail
  • The tail falls off after a week or two
  • Do not dock a wet lamb
  • The lambs can be given lidocaine to reduce the pain
  • The use of the rubber rings is called banding
  • The lamb needs to be protected against tetanus before docking

It is important not to dock the lambs tail too short as it could lead to the death of the lamb. It is reccomeded to leave enough tail to cover the ewes vulva and the rams anus.
If the tail is too short it will cause rectal prolapse because the musles and nerves of the anus of the lamb are damaged. It is also thought that vaginal prolapse can occur with too short a tail.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Sheep's Age And Their Teeth

You can estimate the age of a sheep by looking at its teeth.
The lamb is usually born with no teeth.At one week the baby teeth will erupt. They will be on the front lower jaw. At 2 months the lamb will have 8 baby teeth.
These baby teeth will be replaced by permanent incisors.
When the lamb is one years old to 19 months old it will have 2 central incisors and 6 baby teeth.
From 18 months to 24 months it will have 2 central incisors, 2 middle incisors and 4 baby teeth.
From 24 to 36 months it will have 2central incisors, 2 middle incisors, 2 lateral incisors and 2 baby teeth.
At 28 to 48 months the lamb will have 2 central incisors, 2 middle, incisors, 2 lateral incisors and 2 corner incisors. All the baby teeth have been replaced at this stage.

When a sheep is 5 years their teeth will begin to move apart, break and fall out. At 6 to 8 years old there will be wide spacing between their teeth.
A sheep has no top teeth just a dental pad. Old sheep with aged teeth will not eat as well as their younger counterparts and will loose condition.
You can only estimate the age of a sheep with the condition of their teeth due to the fact that the breed of the sheep will impact the condition of the teeth, the type of feed will make a difference on the teeth and also the country that they graze on.
A sheep with no teeth is called a gummer. Sometimes when a sheep has no teeth it is removed from the flock.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

When to Put Lambs Out to Pasture

A healthy lamb that has a good bond with a ewe who has adequate milk can be put out to pasture at one to two weeks.
If you have a smaller paddock close to your home with nowhere for predators to hide in it would be ideal for a newborn and ewe. Foxes like to stalk their pray behind coverage like tall grasses, rocks,  bushes and trees. If you want to put the lambs  with the ewe out  into pasture ensure that the field is small flat and closely cropped.
Dont put too many new lambs and ewes into the same field as the lambs and ewes can get confused and loose each other. You should number the ewes and lambs with each other. As the lambs get older they can be put into larger groups of ewes and lambs.
Try not to pasture the new lambs near streams or rivers as there is a high chance of losing lambs to drowning.
Ensure that there is some form of shelter in the field as with bad weather conditions there could be lambs lost to chilling and hypothermia.


When you are sending your lambs off to pasture ensure that you have adequate fencing. This will keep your lambs and sheep in and the predators out of the field.
If you have good grass you will not need to supplement with hay. If   the grass is not too lush there will need to be a provision of hay.
Sheep usually prefer   to eat weeds over the grass.
You should have a hay rack in your field. The hay rack will reduce waste and is more hygenic. Provide a morning and evening feed of hay.

Ensure that your stock has access to fresh water at all times. But ensure that your water container is lamb safe.  Many lambs are lost from drowning in water tanks.
Your average sheep can consume gallons of water a day.

When you are pasturing lambs you should use woven wire fencing.
Having sheep and cattle pasture together can reduce predator loss.
When the lambs and cattle have bonded together the lambs will seek protection amongst the cattle when they see a predator approaching.

Pasture can be high in energy and protein when its in its vegative state but when its rapidly growing its high mositure content is not as nutritious. The high mositure content can cause loose stools in lambs.

When pasture plants mature they are not as high in protein and energy thats why one needs to have pasture field rotation. You need to clip the pasture to keep it in its vegative state.

Lambs that are born on pasture tend to eat pasture quicker.
The rumen of young lambs are developed through eating grass not grains.
Grass and the ewes milk are the most natural and organic way to feed the lambs.
Lambs develop better on the pasture than on the  force feeding of grains.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Early Lambing or Late Lambing Advantages and Disadvantages

One of the first things you must consider when managing a sheep farm is when to have your lambing season. You must decide weather to have early lambing or late lambing. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.You need to consider the interaction between lambing and your other farming activities. Your labour resources, the food markets, your farm buildings, your farm budget, feed prices, state of the world economy and many other factors should effect your decision. In the past decade there has been and increase in late lambing.

Early Lambing

Early lambing occurs in winter and the start of spring. Early lambing fits in better with the full time farmers schedule. With early lambing there is more time to do the spring schedule of land planting, calving, setting the seeds for the summer harvesting.With early lambing you have money in the bank by the time the summer months arrive.

Lambs born in winter are usually sold for a higher price than those born in the spring. The Easter markets usually have the optimum prices for sale of lamb.

Its easier on the farmer to aid a ewe in trouble when shes inside.

Unprdictable weather has less impact when you have your lambs and ewes housed.

You can carry more ewes on the pasture, as feed requirements are at a maintenance level. Lambs are not competing for the limiting resources.

Housing of the lambs and ewes for winter lambing is a big consideration in your decision making process. You must have adequate lambing sheds for the winter. An area for the ewes to give birth, pens for lamb and ewe, an area for lambs and ewes to mix and an area for the ewes that are in waiting to drop.

With winter lambing there are some health problems that can affect your lambs and ewes due to the close proximity and weather. There is higher risk of mastitis, scours and pneumonia.
There is an increased chance of lambs chilling and freezing during the winter.

Spring Lambing

Spring Lambing reduces the amount of labour, expenses and facilities needed.
Spring lambing takes place in March, April and May. The ewes and better reproductively during the spring lambing season.
Suffolk, Dorset, Hampshire and Rambouillet are common crossbreeds used for spring lambing.
There is less assistance and supervision than the winter lambing.
Crossbreeds are recommended for spring lambing.

The farmer gains from having the lambs graze on the spring, summer and autumn forages.
Spring lambing coinsides with the natural breeding cycle.
Ewes and lambs can take advantage of the lush grasses.
You need better pasture management with late lambing.

There is a higher risk of internal parasites during the late lambing season.

As the new lambs are born with less supervision and assistance there may be an increase in mortality rate and  they are easier prey for predators as there are out in open fields.

Some reports suggest that it is cleaner and the ewe bonds better  with the lamb when it is an outside spring lambing.

There is less sheparding control with outside lambing. It is difficult to catch and help a ewe lambing outside.

Autumn Lambing

It is more difficult to get your ewes breeding out of season and autumn lambing is out of season for the natural breeding. Conception rates are low. Fall lambing has less of the problems that winter lambing has in some ways as  lambs can be born outside, there is less chance of lamb chilling and hypothermia. Early autumn lambing can be aimed and a different market. The christmas market and the ethnic market.
There is a reduction in the risk of paracites and predators during autumn lambing.
There is more interference with the ewe to get an autumn lambing. There needs to be hormonal manipulation of the ewes natural reproductive cycle. The will also be the need to select a specific breed. You will need to  introduce light control.