Boris MOT

Having sorted out the bulk of the sheep  I thought it worth checking on the goats.  The pygmies were fine as usual, and Howard’s fleece was coming off naturally, but Boris needed some attention.

Her fleece is so thick that it keeps her very very warm.  It also hides lots of nasty lice and suchlike.  I tried to shear some of the fleece off to help cool her, but after twenty minutes of struggling with it I’d managed to cut away a patch about a foot square, and not even get it close to her skin.  I gave up and concentrated on dagging her.  Her bottom was fairly messy, but as much because her fleece was so long it would catch almost anything coming out!

Alex had also asked me to look at her face, both to treat it for lice and to clear some of the fleece out of the way so she could see.  I did my best to clip around so she could see, and did get a lot away.  I’m not sure she was happy with her hair cut though:

Then it was hoof time.  She had scald affecting all four of her hooves, and I treated them all with blue spray, and trimmed the hooves back down to the right shape.  I’ll probably need to do her hooves again in another couple of weeks to get the scald under control.  I’m hoping that, combined with the warm weather should clear it up completely, for a while at least.

Then I put spot-on onto her.  This kills lice and other such nasties.  I put an extra bit on the back of her head to deal with the ones which had been bothering her face.

Her MOT was completed with a good spraying of Clik, and when I finally let her go she trotted off with only a brief admonitory bleat.

We do need to get her sheared soon though – or maybe I should try again…

Clik-ity clik!

This morning I was looking at the OAP Soays and decided that if I could I should really get them in an Clik them.  Clik is a spray on chemical which helps to protect the sheep from fly-strike.  It works by slowing and stopping the development of the eggs that the blow flies lay – before they turn into maggots.  This is good, because the maggots will burrow into the sheep’s flesh and start to eat them, and not only is this extremely painful for the sheep, but if there are enough of the little nightmares then they will kill the poor thing.  It’s one of the most disgusting things we have ever had to deal with as animal keepers, and having avoided it completely for our first couple of years, we’ve been hit a few times a year since, and have lost two sheep in that time (both of whom were old and/or unwell, probably making them easy targets – but still not the way we’d want them to go).

Since we had our first permanent sheep we’ve tried to ensure we regularly spray them to protect them from fly strike.  The first spray we used was Crovect.  This is an insecticide which kills the flies, the eggs and the maggots – so is what we use to treat a strike.  It’s nasty stuff is Crovect and stings if you get a lot on your skin, it also needs to be sprayed all over the sheep to completely protect them as it doesn’t work it’s way over them.  We swapped to Clik a couple of years ago for a few reasons.  One is that it’s a bit cheaper than Crovect, it lasts quit e bit longer, 16 weeks against around 6, and it also doesn’t burn when you get it on you.  The best thing is that it works it’s way over the whole sheep (it uses soap as it’s base and I think this helps), so all we have to do is spray a line across the back, and then an arc over their rears.  The downside of Clik is that it can’t be used to treat a strike, so we keep some Crovect for that, just in case!

We have a channel between our pig areas which is usually lushly grassed as the pigs only occasionally get into it, and the sheep can only get into it if I leave the gate open.  After I’d fed the pigs this mornign I opened up the gate for the sheep, thinking to myself that I’d get some food to lead the sheep in and then try and trap them.  The rather strangely one of the old OAP rams just wandered in, and soon the whole Soay flock followed.  I quickly closed the gate, and they were all ready to be Cliked – brilliant!

When handling sheep the best thing to do is get them into as small an area as possible, so they’re all squished together.  We used to think this wasn’t very fair so we’d leave them a load of space, all that happened was they ran around, and in some cases jumped over the hurdles! Here’s the OAPs this morning after I managed to get them cornered with a couple of sheep hurdles:

Usually when I’ve managed to get hold of the sheep I like to check they’re ok.  The old Soays all seemed well, though a few of them had scraggly fleeces.  I decided to help them, by pulling it off.  They don’t like it much, but they look much betetr afterwards, and I can only assume they feel much cooler:

Once I’d done that I sprayed them one by one with Clik, trying my best to get a thinck band down their backs, and then an arc across their bottoms.  All finished off with a spot of bright red stock spray, so I know who’s been done.  Here you can see them eating some food afterwards:



Algy and Verdigris – What are our Alpacas for?

We have two intact male Alpacas, Algenon (or Algy) and Verdigris.  We bought them originally as fox protection, though their usefullness in this is debatable given the chickens we’ve lost.  Some might ask why we bought two males and not a female to breed them – and that’s because the females are much more expensive than the males.

Alpacas in this country are kept either for breeding or their fleece, so we’re already out on the first.  We shear ours once a year, an experience the alpacas hate.  This results in two bin bags of really lovely fleece.  Two years ago I sold them by the bin bag on eBay, and made less than half the cost of the shearing.  Last year the fleece just disappeared for reasons I can’t remember.  This year I decided to sell the fleece in chunks a la the other eBay sellers, as this seemed likely to generate more profit.  I had 5 of one and 7 of the other, and managed to sell just one lot of 300g of fleece in the first listing.  I sold nothing in the second listing, and decided on one last listing, dropping the price a bit.  Another two weeks went by with nothing, and then yesterday someone decided to buy three lots!  Much excitement.  I’m still on track to make less than half the cost of the shearing though…

So the question is, what are they for?  They don’t like to be stroked – alpacas are not touchy feely animals by nature, in fact Verdigris has never even eaten out of my hand, though Algy occasionally does.  They are pretty as you can see below, but aestheti I think we’re probably going to look at selling them at some point, hopefully before the winter.

Either way I moved them into the field with the goats and the main sheep flock today, as the grass is starting to get a little longer and I’m trying to balance the sward length – not something we’ve worried too much about before as we hadn’t split the fields up!