The last time we made a concerted effort to deal with the various sheep husbandry tasks we had waiting we were rained off about halfway through: http://wallowinginpoo.net/?p=183
Yesterday we decided to try again and had a bit more luck. Alex didn’t have much time as she was about to head off on a trip abroad, so we had to confine our ambitions, but we knew we definitely had to get to some of them given the limping we’d seen.
First up were the Soay ewes. Two of them were limping badly – including, I think, Mouton. Catching them was tricky, we managed to herd a number of the sheep into a temporary area of hurdles, but sadly not the Soay ewes. Using the feed bucket we had managed to get them in the small area near the Animal Restaurant, and it really should have been easy to catch them. The first one led us on a merry chase for about five minutes, at the end of which both Alex and I were exhausted, but an excellent dive by Alex secured the ewe. The second one, who was probably Mouton (I didn’t check her ear tag), was much easier. We got her into a corner, and I confused her using Grobbelaar style leg movements so she didn’t know which way to dive past me as I moved slowly forward until I got close enough to grab her. Both of them had a little bit of footrot which we scrape and sprayed. They also both had parts of their hooves where there are holes in the hard nail side of the hoof where the mud gets in and starts to create larger holes. We did our best to trim those down. Part of our problem is that our pasture is so soft it doesn’t wear their hooves down well – though if I can get a lot more concrete hard standing down that should certainly help a bit.
We could then move on to the sheep we had rounded up in the hurdles. We had three of the ewes who we’d not caught before, one of the Suffolks, and two of the Mules, including my favourite sheep, White Face (this is an old picture of her with one of her lambs behind her):
White Face has been our most prolific mother, having had triplets in each of the last three years, and arriving with two lambs at feet. She’s also the most intelligent of our white sheep, making sure she gets the most of any food – and also usually very good at avoiding capture.
Both White Face and the other Mule were a bit of a handful, but we eventually managed to get their feet trimmed, and a small amount of footrot scraped and sprayed. We then moved on to the Suffolk. They are such solid sheep that getting her into position was a bit of a chore, but eventually we had her sitting up against Alex’s legs and we could get to her hooves. She clearly hadn’t been to the chiropodist for quite a while and there was lots of extra growth. We trimmed her hooves and scraped the small patches of footrot before releasing her. I decided that we’d use a triangle to mark all the animals we’d treated this round, so we now had five sheep with bright red triangles on them.
We had two boy Soays in with us as well, Luke and Muga. Luke we gave a quick foot trim which was easy, but Muga had different ideas. He is a very strong Ram, and though much smaller than the Suffolks he is much harder to handle. However we really needed to get to his feet as he’s been limping a bit recently, and a limping ram is less likely to be able to perform his ramly duties! Eventually after a bit of a struggle and some shouting (mostly at each other) Alex and I had him in position. Trimming and scraping took a bit longer as he was wont to struggle, but eventually we were done. Despite it being late in the season for flystrike I also took the opportunity to Clik the sheep we hadn’t caught before.
We released the sheep we had caught and went to look at the one last sheep we’d planned to catch. This was the Suffolk ewe we’d had to treat when we got back from holiday (http://wallowinginpoo.net/?p=110), and she was still having problems. We caught her easily as she wasn’t interested in moving too far, and quickly had her in the sitting position. She still had bad footrot affecting all her hooves. She also had these strange sort of footrot growths between the two parts of the hoof, it’s the brown lump (which definitely isn’t poo) in front of the blood in this picture (notice also all the blue and purple on my finger and thumb!):
I need to find out more about this as it’s not on every hoof, and I’ve only seen it on a couple of the Suffolks before, never on the other breeds.
Once we were done with this Suffolk Alex had to head in, and I decided to check on Bertie. He’s been limping a bit (as well), so it was definitely required. One of the great things about the Angoran goats especially is that they are easy to handle, and turning them and trimming them on my own is not a problem. I spread some straw on the floor of the Animal Restaurant, flipped Bertie on his back and dealt with his hooves in a matter of minutes. As usual he was fairly placid throughout the experience, kicking a bit when I was scraping his hoof, but as soon as I let him go he was quickly up and eating the straw quite happily.
I followed Alex back into the house feeling much better – the sheep might be limping, but at least we’d treated that and it should hopefully get better, especially if we have some dry weather. I was also exhausted form the running and wrestling with sheep, and my left hand was bright blue from the spray but I felt that all in all, it had been a successful bit of maintenance!