Thursday, February 18, 2016

Sorting, Tagging and Drenching the Sheep

Of all the animals on Opportunity Farm the flock of Wiltshire Horn sheep are the easiest to manage. They stay in their fences, they breed and birth easily, don't require shearing or crutching and come when they are called. Much of the time they are out of sight feeding themselves. In Winter they are supplemented with some Lucerne and sheep nuts and we keep an close eye for rejected lambs in Spring. However they do need regular drenching, especially to combat the impact of worms. So about every three months or when we see them looking unhealthy they need to be brought into the yards.
At this time of year we separate them into two groups. The ewes we want to breed off are put in with the ram while the coloured sheep are put in with last year's ewe lambs and wethers.
Our neighbour with whom we share the sheep brings his experience to help us with the drenching. Michelle filled the syringes and passed them to him to wrestle open the sheep's mouths and squirt in the drench while I moved the sheep up and wedged them tight against the race wall.
We also decided to tag them all with our Opp. Farm orange ear tags so that they are easily recognizable and that if we remove any from the property that they have the farm identifier number on them which is now a requirement for all livestock. The protocol is to clip the tag into the sheep's right ear for a female and the left for a male. This certainly saves lifting them up when they are in the race just to identify their gender.
Now the ram is happy and has a flock of ewes to protect and inseminate and the wethers can be fattened up for the freezer. 

Some of the Wiltshire Horn ewes awaiting drench and tagging with Harriet, the coloured Merino, in the foreground.

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