Sheep Category

  • What a fortnight

    Adventures, Dog, Freelance Pieces, SheepComments (1)

    On August 10, 2014 • By

    First of all, my apologies for lack of blog posts. Summer is a really busy time for me, with croft work, day job, filming and football keeping me busy, never mind throwing 320 new chickens into the mix!

    I’m relaxing in Glasgow just now, having spent the last 3 days filming at the Scottish National Sheepdog Trial. We’re filming series 7 of Farpaisean Chon-Chaorach, a programme I have been co-presenting since BBC Alba launched in 2008. This is our Scottish Team


    Our typical day at a trial begins with us recording our links during the morning and then, after lunch, interviewing the top placed handlers of the day, before a winner’s interview and then our closing piece to camera. Some days, like Thursday of this week, can be very long. We weren’t clear of the trial field until around 9pm. We have two elements to the film crew; the majority film the runs, while the Single Camera Unit (us) film the links & interviews. This is made up of presenters, cameraman and director. Here is a post-National selfie of myself, Catriona, Craig and Neil.


    I go home tomorrow and prepare to do it all again next month for the International Sheepdog Trial.

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  • Pedicure

    Agricultre, Medicine, SheepComments (0)

    On July 13, 2014 • By

    I spent a relaxing morning in the fank yesterday, all on my own, tending to the sheep’s feet.

    The hooves of the sheep are like our own nails; always growing. You can get things like foot rot, which causes the sheep pain/discomfort and is not nice. When shearing last week, I noticed a couple of the sheep had longer hooves that needed trimming, so I took them all back into the fank to sort them.

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    A before shot

    The shears snip through the hoof easily and the sheep feels no discomfort.

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    The end product looks much neater, just the way it should.

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    The beauty about our traditional stock management system here, is that things like foot rot are minimised by methods that have been used for generations. Sheep here have traditionally spent part of the winter on the moor. The heather is perfect for cleaning in between their hooves, meaning they are clean and don’t need as much human influence. Mine have just spent 2 weeks in my apportionment, which cleaned out their feet nicely. No sign of foot rot or any diseases, just some superficial trimmings required.

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  • Injured Ram

    Adventures, Medicine, Rams, SheepComments (0)

    On June 15, 2014 • By

    My one remaining intact ram has a broken shoulder!

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    I had the vet over for the vasectomy for the other ram, so I asked him to have a look at this one, as he had a limp and I couldn’t figure out what was causing it.

    He started at his hoof and worked his way up the joints until he figured his shoulder was broken! I felt it myself and could feel it click when pressure was applied. He’s been like this for a couple of months but will hopefully be ok for autumn. It’s his front right that is affected, meaning he should still be ok to serve ewes. If a ram injured his rear leg, he’s not much use, but front in manageable (rear takes the weight when he mounts a ewe). We’ll keep an eye on him and the vet will check him in a couple of months.

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  • Vasectomy (for the ram!)

    Adventures, Agricultre, birth, Medicine, Rams, SheepComments (0)

    On June 15, 2014 • By

    I now have a ‘teaser’ ram. One of my friends told me about his a few years ago, but I didn’t pay much attention to teasers, until I saw the affect it had on my neighbour’s lambing last year; numerous sheep lambing each day, while I was having a max of 2/3.

    Anyway, the process is quite simple. A ram is given a vasectomy and this does strange things to the sheep! The teaser is put in with the ewes 10 days before the ‘intact’ rams. This brings the ewes into season and also synchronises their systems, meaning your lambing period is much tighter. This year I was up at 5am 39 times in 42 days. I was exhausted. Hopefully next year won’t be anywhere near 42 days!

    The process with the ram was quite simple.

    1. Choose a ram

    I have this ram lamb from last year. Wasn’t sure what to do with him, as he is related to too many of my sheep, so this was an easy decision.

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    2. Get the vet out

    I made the appointment when Bud was over for his own ‘sensitive’ operation. The vet wanted it booked as soon as possible, to avoid fly strike. Suits me, so we got it done the following week.

    I had to sit an hold the ram, while the vet did his thing. The animal is given a sedative, the area is given a local anaesthetic and then cleaned.

    The job takes around an hour and I’ve been told it’s similar to the process on humans. Tubes from the testes are snipped and a length removed, to ensure it doesn’t grow back and repair itself.

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    Quick and painless for the animal. It will actually mean he will have a nice long life here now, given that I won’t have to move him on. Fingers crossed this all works now!

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  • Drenching & vaccinating

    Agricultre, Chickens, chicks, eggs, Lambs, Medicine, SheepComments (1)

    On May 25, 2014 • By

    I’m quite sore and tired from all the work yesterday; every single sheep drenched and all the lambs vaccinated.

    It was a miserable morning, so I didn’t get started with the sheep until nearly 2pm. I got the hens out of the way in the morning, cleaning out the hen house and topping up feed & water. All under the watchful eye of Bud and the relaxing cat

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    I also removed a trio of birds that I am going to breed from. I hatched these Speckled Sussex from eggs I got online last spring. Fantastic birds and I’m going to hatch a batch of my own now.

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    So on to the sheep. They are split into 4 smaller flocks, to spread them amongst the crofts. That means more work gathering and penning them. We’d probably have been done in an hour, had they all been together.

    Uisdean passed the lambs to me and I doses, injected and checked them all.

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    We worked quite well and efficiently, just the way I like it!

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    Uisdean is volunteering with me as part of his Duke of Edinburgh award. He is down most weeks and enjoys working with the sheep. He’s considering getting a couple of his own, which I think is a great idea

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  • Goodbye Lasarusina

    Agricultre, death, SheepComments (0)

    On May 18, 2014 • By

    This week I lost one of my favourite sheep. I know that sounds a little bit stupid it was a lamb hand reared from birth. Lasarusina was touch & go to survive her first night last April, unfortunately she died 12 months later. I went to check the hoggs that I moved to Cross about 4/5 weeks ago. I check them about once a week and this time I found Lazarusina on her side, very weak.

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    I took her into the shed and gave her food and water. With a bit of help, she managed up on her feet.

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    I suspected liver fluke so gave her a drench straight away. All the hoggs were drenched when moved to Cross, so it should have eradicated any issues then. I also phoned the vet but deep down, I knew it was too late. She lasted another couple of days but deteriorated. I eventually made the decision to have her put out of pain, but she died before I could arrange that.

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  • Lambing is over

    Adventures, birth, death, Lambs, SheepComments (1)

    On May 4, 2014 • By

    I’m lying in bed at 9.30 on a Sunday morning, thankful and relieved that lambing is over for another year. It’s my favourite time of year, but it is exhausting. I worked out that i was up at 5am in 32 of the last 35 days, with my dad doing the early shift those other days.

    I’m not sure why this happened, but most of my lambing problems occurred late at night this year, whereas they were all early morning issues in 2013.

    Last year I had gimmers rejecting lambs and ewes with no milk, but this year was significantly better. A few late night lambing issues resulted in 1 or 2
    am finishes, and that makes it even tougher to get up at 5!!

    If it hadn’t been for the set of triplets I lost, I would have said it was one of my most successful lambings ever. Quite often there are a couple of lambs lost to crows/gulls or simple stuff like membrane covering their mouth after birth. Fortunately none of that this year. Every sheep has a lamb, except for the one that lost triplets (she was unwell for a week after her prolapse).

    The last one to give birth didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked, but the lambs made it out ok.

    I came home from work at around 5.30, expecting to spend the evening tidying the house, as I’ve had workmen in. This was not going to happen! First thing I do is check the sheep that’s to lamb and noticed that her water has broken. Excellent, twins will be along shortly. Wrong.

    I waited patiently but after an hour or so, I decided to catch her and have a look at what was happening. I needed help doing this, as there was no pen in the field I was keeping her. We caught her, took her into the shed and discovered that it was a breech. That means lamb coming tail first. It didn’t take too long to get the lamb out. While we were discussing how long we should leave it before going in for the twin, out it slipped! Two healthy twins.

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    So that’s it. Spent the night inside and let them out early in the morning.

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    I’m going to make the most of my sleep for a while now!

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  • Euthanised lamb

    death, Lambs, SheepComments (5)

    On April 26, 2014 • By

    Last week I posted about a vet visit for a lamb that had swollen and bleeding leg.

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    Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of matters. The lamb then lost the top layer of skin on it’s leg.

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    I was advised to keep it clean and dry and to cover it with vaseline. Basically treat it like a burn. So for 4/5 days, I took the lamb in, cleaned the leg with a drop of iodine in water, dried it and covered it in vaseline. The leg, however, got progressively worse.

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    By Sunday morning, I feared the leg was dead. It was black and cold below the knee. For some reason, blood was not circulating as it should.

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    I phoned the on call vet and discussed matters. I didn’t want to shoot it, just in case there was something the vet could do, but I already knew the outcome. As it wasn’t an emergency, I told the vet to stop by if she got a call-out in Ness, which she did around 6.30pm.

    The diagnosis didn’t take long.

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    Whatever was affecting the front left leg had also spread to the other 3 legs. There was little option but to have it put down. This was a swift and painless injection. I’ve seen it done to numerous other animals, but never a lamb. Because they’re so small, it’s injected straight into the heart, meaning they die instantly, instead of the few seconds it takes for a larger animal.

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    I think the worst thing about this experience was how lively the lamb was. If you didn’t see its legs, you would have thought it a strong and healthy lamb, as shown here.

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  • Last fortnight of lambing

    Agricultre, birth, Lambs, SheepComments (1)

    On April 26, 2014 • By

    Saturday 26th April. I still have 2 sheep left to lamb. My first lamb was 32 days ago and I have been up at 5am for 29 of the last 33 days. I cannot wait for this to finish!

    The last fortnight has seen mainly ups, but a few downs too.

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    I had some difficulty delivering this monster lamb and was is such a rush to run and get the pickup, that I didn’t notice one of my chickens sleeping on top of the wheel. One live lamb but one dead chicken :/

    I then had to get the vet out to help deliver this lamb. 2 of us had tried to deliver it, but no joy. I expected a dead lamb, by the time the vet arrived, but he managed to get it out alive. He said another 5 mins and it would have been a goner. The main problem here was that the sheep has a very narrow pelvis and the lamb was as big as she could have managed.

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    I’ll have to consider her future, but they’re outside now anyway. The lamb has interesting markings

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    This sheep lambed last Thursday (17th), meaning there were 4 left to lamb. Things went very quiet after that, with only one more lamb in the following 9 days!

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    I had a set of twins waiting for me at 5am today, so down to the last 2. A set of twins and a single. I cannot wait to get it all finished!

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  • Late night lambing

    Adventures, birth, Lambs, SheepComments (1)

    On April 15, 2014 • By

    As tends to happen, things got busy while I was away. I was playing for Ness last night, over in Point, and my father was keeping an eye on things. My brother Murdo was watching the game, and came up behind my goal with 10 mins left, saying I had to get home asap as there were problems. Not what I wanted to hear!

    Anyway, I got home and two had lambed, one which needed some help. As she was a gimmer and had some difficulty, I decided to take her in for the night. It was quite straightforward getting her in.

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    I was a little suspicious about another one, so went out to keep an eye on her. It was a beautiful, moonlit evening.

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    One of the chickens keeps escaping from the hen house, I found her sleeping under the wheel arch of the 4×4

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    By the time I reached the sheep again, the first twin had been born, and the second wasn’t far behind. A successful evening all round.

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