Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Maintaining the sheep

I have a small flock of katahdin hair sheep (about 30 of them) and 8 wool sheep (suffolk sheep that don't shed their wool) on my farm.  I'll be moving them to their summer pasture in a few days, so I scheduled in a sheep shearer (McElroy Shearing, 206-931-2869) to do part of the work.   I have no connection to Mr. McElroy other than as a satisfied customer. 
 For folks that come to the farm to do work, one of the valued commodities is that they show up on time, and he did. 
 The setup was pretty simple.  We put a piece of plywood across the end of the loading chute that's part of the corral.   Once the sheep are in the cute, cut gates allow us to feed them through one at a time for easier processing.   So in this go we:  Trimmed the hooves, sheared, ear tagged, castrated, and checked condition of each and every sheep, and we also trimmed the hooves on the goat to keep the local animal control folks happy.  It's part of the yearly grind of keeping sheep, but apparently passerby were concerned. 

 Starting with the hooves, the nail around the pad is trimmed back, to provide a flat surface for the sheep to walk on.  Starting with one cloven hoof...
 and working all the way around it. 
 until a clean edge that is level with the pad is exposed.  No reaction from the sheep when you're doing this. 
 Finished with one side, you move to the other part, and repeat. 
 The hair sheep needed to be sheared, and at this time of year, they can look pretty mangy.  Dreadlocks, sort of.  At the rear of the sheep they're often poop locks. 
 Starting with the belly a patch is shaved clear. 
 And then the body, carefully positioning the sheep so that the shears can work. 
 The sheeps body is under his knee.  Its fleece -- the wool shorn from the sheep - is between his knee and us.
Newly shorn, here's the same sheep.  Looks like a new animal!

The sheep aren't really thrilled with this who procedure, but they seem to tolerate it pretty well.   This is pretty much all of the work that needs be done on the sheep until this fall sometime.  They're all set to go to the new pasture.

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