Sheep Category

  • Boys lifted, girls out

    Dog, Rams, SheepComments (2)

    On January 1, 2016 • By

    The rams have been in with the ewes since the 7th of November, so the boys had been doing their thing for 45 days, before being taken out on Boxing Day.  Sheep have a cycle of around 17 days, so each ewe should have cycled at least twice in that time.  I’ll be keeping an eye out for lambs from the beginning of April.

     

    With all this in mind, I gave the ewes a once-over, drenched them, and put most out on the moor.

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    They all got a drench for Liver Fluke – the biggest sheep killer I have – and moved onto fresh ground.  After problems over the past 2/3 winters, particularly in the hoggs (last year’s lambs), I am drenching the ewes every 6 weeks and the hoggs every 4.

    I had 82 ewes at the rams this year; mainly Blackface and Cheviot, with some crosses too.  All the Blackfaces and those Cheviots and crosses which are suitable were then walked out onto the moor.  About 65 in total.

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    It’s about 1.5 miles out the back road, across the main road and out the peat road to where I leave them

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    They sheep are out on the open moor here but don’t stray too far from the glen which has plentiful supplies of grass, heather and shelter.  The crofts are so flat and exposed, they have next to no shelter from the gales that hit us in January and February, they also have very little grass left on them at this time of year, and can also harbour things like liver fluke.  Being out on the moor solves a lot of these issues.  image5

    I also take out mineral licks, which provide the sheep with the nutrients they need but which they don’t get from the poorer grazing out here.  The licks also provide the added bonus of keeping the ewes where I want them to be.

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    Back at home, the remaining 18 are between my parents’ house and Cross School.  Plenty shelter and a bale of hay to keep them happy.

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    In this photo, there is a wee cross gimmer on the right hand side (nearest to the camera, with the dark face), she suffered majorly from fluke in early Spring. I thought she was a goner, as she went about a month without standing, but has made a great recovery.  I can’t wait to see how she does this winter.

    And while the ewes are all set for the toughest 6 weeks of the winter, both in terms of their pregnancies and weather, the boys are recovering after their year’s work.  They’ll be pampered a little more than the ewes just now!

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  • Drenching Hoggs

    Adventures, Dog, Lambs, Medicine, SheepComments (1)

    On December 13, 2015 • By

    Over the past few winters, I have had some problems with Liver Fluke – specifically in the lambs that I have been over-wintering.  I have spoken to my vet about this on numerous occasions, and this year I am increasing the regularity of my drenching from every 6 weeks, to every 4.

    There are 2 reasons for this: the primary one being that I would like to reduce losses of ewe hoggs to an absolute minimum.  Nearly all my losses in the past few years have been due to liver fluke, a parasite that is transferred via water snails in wet ground, that feed on the sheeps’ liver.  The secondary reason is business-related. This year we have the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme, which means I get paid around £73 for every female lamb from 2015 that I overwinter until 31 March 2016.  As a result, I have kept a couple more females this year, so I want to keep on top of any fluke issues – and prevention is way way better than the cure. It’s better to cut out any liver damage before it happens.

    With all this in mind, I have added an extra drenching in my usual rota.  They were drenched in October when they were dipped and normally they wouldn’t get another one until nearer January, but last week I gathered them and drenched them all.  Since dipping, they have all been out in the village park, so Bud and I went out to get them last Saturday (5th).  The green area is the park, the red line is the route I use to walk the sheep, and the blue is their home for the next month.

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    We took a wee while to get them all gathered, it’s quite a big park with tough terrain, and the 40mph+ winds meant that Bud couldn’t hear all my commands!  He still enjoyed himself.

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    Once in the fank, I separated my own lambs from everyone else’s and gave them their drench, along with a mineral drench.

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    After this, Bud and I walked them home.

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    That’s them now in towards the shore, in a 1 hectare field that has been empty since September.  The hoggs will be here until the Christmas holidays, then I’ll take them closer to home and start training them to eat feed! January and February are the critical months for surviving the winter, so it’ll be make or break then!

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  • Disastrous Start

    birth, death, Lambs, Sheep, TurkeysComments (0)

    On April 12, 2015 • By

    The week before lambing was due to start was a tough one. Two dead ewes, 8 dead lambs, and a dead turkey. From my first 5 sets of twins, I have only 2 lambs to show for it.

    But the day before the first lambs appeared, I came home to find my turkey dead, with a nasty gash above its eye. I still haven’t figured out what caused it.

    That was bad enough, but things got worse the next day. I went to feed the sheep around 9.30 (it was a Sunday) and noticed one of the sheep didn’t come. I went to her with some feed & thought nothing of it, as I suspected she hadn’t heard me call due to the wind and she wasn’t due to lamb for another few weeks.

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    An hour later though, I found these two wee lambs, which had been aborted.

    The next few days saw more of the same. First I lost a ewe to “Twin Lamb Disease” (aka Pregnancy Toxaemia)

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    She looks bright enough here, but was dead within 24 hours. Twin Lamb disease is where the lambs are basically a parasite and all the energy & nutrition goes into them, rather than keep the sheep alive. Horrible seeing them fade away so quickly.

    Anyway, the ewes were all moved into their lambing fields. Here are the singles getting their first feed in their new home.

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    And then the first live lamb arrived! A cracking Cheviot Texel Cross.

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  • Lambing Update

    Agricultre, birth, Lambs, SheepComments (0)

    On April 12, 2015 • By

    It’s Sunday afternoon and I am taking a much needed break from lambing. This is the most sheep I have lambed in a single year, and it has been tough.

    I’m going to write several blog posts today, about some of the ups and downs of lambing so far. This is as much for myself as it is for anyone who reads the blog! I’ve found it very useful, going back and reading over posts, several months later.

    To date, I am almost two-thirds of the way through lambing. Still a way to go!

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  • A hell of a day

    Adventures, Chickens, Lambs, Medicine, Poultry, Sheep, WeatherComments (0)

    On March 6, 2015 • By

    I’m sitting on my bed at 8pm, just having had a shower and feeling exhausted. Today was an unplanned day off work and I expected to take it reasonably easy, but that wasn’t to be the case.

    We had a gale today, probably 60mph gusts throughout the afternoon, with strong wind and heavy rain all day.

    The ground is totally soaked after relentless rain and is really tough on livestock

    Yesterday, I got a load of big bales delivered, so I took the tractor out for the first time in 2015 and moved the bales to the appropriate fields. All was going smoothly until the tractor got stuck in reverse! Not one to give up when I’m in a working mood, I finished job while drivinng backwards.

    Next, I checked the livestock. One ewe, scanned for twins, was on her back, and had probably been so for several hours.  I righted her and took her out to my parents barn. I noticed a wee bit of blood round her rear, so I phoned the vet to be safe.

     

    The vet gave her the usual injections but also left me some pen & strep to administer over the next few days.

    Fortunately, the blood around the rear was a peck or two by a crow, and not the beginning of her aborting, as I had initially feared. I had hoped it was a peck, but you always fear the worst!

    When he inserted the digital thermometer into her, she was so cold it didn’t get a reading. Looks like I got to her in time. She had a heater beside her for most of the afternoon and was eating when I checked her around 7.

    While the vet was leaving, I noticed 2 hens, who were standing around looking very sorry for themselves.  They were outwith the hen enclosure and totally soaked. They were so cold, they couldn’t move and didn’t look like they’d last long.

    I took both out to my mother and we both sat in front of the fire, drying them and trying to warm them up. I left them with my mother and went to feed the sheep. When I came back,  I was SHOCKED at what I saw.

    I’m so surprised at how well, and quickly, they’ve recovered. They’re in the barn tonight and will be back in the hen house tomorrow.

    That’s not it though, there was also a recently-acquired lamb that was suffering from exposure too. It spent the day between a heater and a heat lamp! It too will be kept inside for a few days.

    Predictions then are then that hens are fine, the lamb should be ok but I’m worried about the ewe. She’ll need some TLC.

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  • First in the queue

    Agricultre, Chickens, SheepComments (0)

    On February 28, 2015 • By

    How to make sure you get your fill

    Tired yet satisfied after getting everything done today. The ground is so much wetter than it has been at any point this winter. Everywhere is waterlogged – and slippery!

    I wasn’t due to clean out the hen house until Monday, but had to do it early as it was so mucky. Hebs are staying inside and when they do go out, they take mud back in with them!

    That’s me for the weekend now, apart from feeding the sheep tomorrow. I need a rest!

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  • An Duile

    Medicine, SheepComments (1)

    On February 22, 2015 • By

    I did my rounds today and noticed one sheep acting a little funny. Usually they all come running as soon as they hear or see me. Today, most of them were at the fence before I called them, apart from one away on her own. As soon as I called, I saw her ears twitch and she came running, although a little uncertain of herself.

    I lost track of her in amongst the flock, but soon spotted her, and her problem. She was blind in both eyes.

    The eyes go grey and the sheep is temporarily blind. I’m not sure what it’s called in English, but we call it ‘an duile’ in Gaelic.

    As my pickup is off the road, I’m using my dad’s van, giving opportunities to take some selfies before I took her home :)

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    Fortunately I have some opticlox in and have treated her. She’ll improve in the next few days. Hopefully the fact that I got her very early will minimise the risk to the rest of the flock.

    It’s not uncommon and I had issues with it in 2012 and also 4/5 sheep last winter, including this same ewe.

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  • Ticks

    Sheep, WildlifeComments (0)

    On February 22, 2015 • By

    Ticks are not something I have to routinely deal with on my livestock. Yes, the cats seem to pick them up, but I’ve only once seen a tick on a sheep. That was until last week, when I saw two in 5 minutes!

    I was drenching & injecting the sheep the day before scanning and spotted ticks on two of them. One under a sheep’s chin and one of the side of it’s neck. I can only imagine that the rest had ticks all over them too. They were all dipped in October, so these ticks have attached since then. The winter has been mild though, so ticks are still active.

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  • Highlights

    Adventures, Agricultre, Cats, Chickens, Lambs, SheepComments (2)

    On February 22, 2015 • By

    I am going to post a selection of my favourite photos from the last month or so. I can’t wait for spring, the extra hours of daylight will be a big help – as will some grass growing!

    Gizmo wanting in

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    Returning a lost ewe to the flock

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    More repairs to the portacabin. Still awaiting payout from my insurer.

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    Hungry Hogg

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    Swollen eye

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    A couple of visitors

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  • Scanning

    Agricultre, Lambs, SheepComments (0)

    On February 22, 2015 • By

    I’ve been a little light on posts here recently, mainly due to them taking a little longer to write, and time isn’t something I have a lot spare of!

    Things have been very busy since I started selling the eggs but that’s not what this is about, this is about scanning!

    A couple of years ago, I posted about an extremely poor scanning and there you can see pictures of how it’s all done. We have the same setup every year, but fortunately this year was a little better for me.

    Scanning is arranged by the Lewis & Harris Sheep Producers Association, of which I am a member. The scanner comes over from Aberdeenshire and blitzes 7,000+ sheep in a week. At around 75p (ballpark figure, not sure what it is this year) per sheep, that’s a profitable week for a scanner!

    My sheep went through & I had mixed results. Most of it was ok, but I was very disappointed that 3 of my best sheep were empty. I had put them to the Zwartble ram lamb, as a wee experiment, but 3 of the 5 he had were empty. It’ll be interesting to see if he left anything in the other two, or if it was the work of the other rams that covered him.

    I had results of 130%, which is ok, although I’d rather closer to 150. What I mean by percentages is that 130 = 13 lambs out of every 10 sheep.

    I have now started feeding, all in anticipation of lambing starting in the last week of March – I can’t wait!

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