Sheep Sorting – and Poo.

Yesterday we did the next stage of sheep sorting, and caught about half of the sheep from within the OAP field in the channel between the pigs.  The idea was to separate out the girl lambs and put them with the others in the small field with the cows, and also to do some quick maintenance on the remaining lambs.

Of the fifteen sheep we caught, one was an old OAP Soay ram, fourteen were boy lambs, and just one was a girl lamb.  I’m really starting to wonder if I counted the lambs properly when I was castrating them – I think I should have 19 boy lambs, and 15 girl lambs.

Quite a number of the boys had mucky bottoms.  Amongst other things this can be caused by worms, or by being moved on to rich pasture, and some breeds of sheep are more susceptible to it than others – particularly Suffolks we’d been told.  As the majority of our white cross sheep are Suffolk crosses it explained why there were so many dirty bottoms.  The main purpose to docking their tails is to limit the muckiness, which can be an attractant to flies and therefore flystrike.  This certainly helps reduce the amount of build up, but not completely.  So yesterday we decided to trim around their bottoms (also known as crutching).

The process was very simple.  I grabbed the appropriate sheep, and secured it against the gate and stood there manfully holding it.  Alex then had the extra pleasant job of trimming the fleece all around the lucky lamb’s bottom.  This ranges from just unpleasant all the way to disgusting.  It’s especially exciting when the lamb in question decides to poo while being ministered to (about 33% do so), and some of them even peed as well, all over my boots (but no higher!).  In all we (I get to take partial credit as I held them!) cleaned up the bottoms of about eight of the lambs.

We have recently discussed a more aggressive animal reduction plan, which means taking something like twenty lambs on holiday at the end of November, therefore I will need to take some of the boy lambs as well.  This being the case it seemed sensible to move all the lambs we’d caught into the small field, as this should help in catching them when the time comes, and also in grazing down the field.

It does mean we need to catch the remaining lambs from the OAP Soay field, but we’re definitely making progress!

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