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Thread: Sheep keeping advice

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2020

    Sheep keeping advice

    New member, first post, go easy please!
    My girlfriend and I have a smallholding and last year she bought a Valais Blacknose ewe and ram. I should emphasize these are basically pets with a job, eg to keep the grass down in a paddock of approx 3/4 acre.
    The ewe lambed in April, the lamb is healthy and very good natured.
    Although we sheared them twice last year we only did so once this year, so far.
    Last month both the ewe and ram caught pneumonia, unfortunately we lost the ewe, the ram though is pretty much recovered.
    Our intention was to shear the ram when he fully recovered but last night I noticed a stinking black patch of wool on his back that clearly needed further investigation. He has a 50p sized ulcerated area along with a palm sized sore on his back, crawling with tiny maggots and fly blow. After a long session hand shearing him and cleaning him up we found a historic area of missing wool/sore on his rump that seems to be healing well, possibly thanks to the anti-inflammatories and anti-biotics he was given for the pneumonia.
    We've been vigilant with fly blow around a horn before but never noticed this previously. In retrospect I've seen him itching his back and I think he's caused it to bleed, leading to the fly-strike.
    So that's the background, my questions are:

    Bearing in mind they live outside, (Nottinghamshire), how often should we shear them. Should we shear them completely, or leave a couple of inches?

    What's the 'go to' method for insect control, bearing in mind our 'flock' is only two sheep?

    Although they're a Swiss breed I think they're more used to a cold, dry climate, should we put them in overnight when it's raining, which we have started doing, they have shelter available but don't always use it!

    Any more advice will be taken on board, I should have realised that sheep keeping would have been more difficult, hats off to any farmer who keeps them for a living!

    Apologies for the mammoth first post.

  2. #2
    Senior Member 4wd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    North York Moors

    Re: Sheep keeping advice

    Most Sheep n the UK are only sheared once ideally around start of main fly season (June?)
    If it's a very woolly breed and only one or two you probably aren't doing any harm shearing a second time before winter sets in.

    The flies can take interest in the slightest bit of damp sweaty wool e.g. they laid in some pee, but usually the start point is some muck on their tail - occasionally a sore foot can transfer an attractive smell to fleece, and they can start in a smelly foot too.
    Commercially most use a product like Crovect or Clik which is sprayed on once or twice in the season, mainly around the rear end but also along the back.
    It's primarily a repellent but will kill a mild attack of maggots too.
    There are other options like SpotOn will finish them off if they are already established.
    Clipping the affected area very short will also be very helpful of course.

    The problem will be getting a small quantity if no sheep farmer neighbours are nearby would let you have a couple of doses.
    Traditionally the treatment was dipping I suppose you could more or less shower them with dip solution too.
    Again that was primarily a repellent idea.

    In a sheltered area you need to be aware of the risk from April until October.
    Watch especially for biting or rubbing at an affected area, sometimes there's very little to see on the outside of the fleece until it's getting serious.
    Needless to say they would easily kill a sheep if untreated for several days.
    Sometime a small patch will 'cure' itself due to rubbing and lucky cooler weather.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2020

    Re: Sheep keeping advice

    Shearing as per the previous response

    Fly control is much tricker. Do not shower a dip. Anyone doing so opens themselves up for a world of problems. Showers do not pentrate the fleece fully. It will not deal with lice or sheep scab. Dips e.g. gold Fleece is not licensed for shower application and require a licensed person for application. Purldip is a fleece colouring agent.

    Having Just 2 sheep ensures that fly control is difficult. My suggestion is to shear them ealy in the fly season. If you can learn to crutch the sheep yourself to keep the back ends clean will go along way. Products like crovect are available in 0.8l bottles which is far too big for your number of stock. You would waste nearly all of it. There is some organic fly tretments available through companies like Barrier animal health. The active for the organic products is Citronella oil.

    You can place Fly traps either home made or store bought, if your sheep are confinded to a small paddock, around the area they are residing. They are best insalled starting about March or just after the last frost and taking them down after the first frost. They look unsightly but will help control the numbers but it needs to be started at the start of the season.

    Your sheep will be fine outside all year round as long as you leave them with access to shelter if they wish to use it and provide feed as needed. Many sheep breeds are capable of thriving in less favourable conditions. Just make sure for foot health you do not let them have prolonged access to waterlogged and churned up ground. It is in these areas foot issues will cause problems.

    Here is a link to SCOPS which is a good resource.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Re: Sheep keeping advice

    0.8l of Crovect is about 40, I think. If you can get the merchant to supply one with a long expiry date, you should get at least a couple of years out of it, which will help.

    You can vaccinate against pneumonia with heptavac P (the lamb probably wants doing anyway against clostridial disease) but again 50ml is the smallest bottle you can get. For high value (or high sentimental value) sheep, probably still worth it though.

    If you know any sheep farmers, they have to throw out part used bottles anyway as it doesn't keep once the bottle is opened.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2014

    Re: Sheep keeping advice

    My vets have a smallholder group where those with small numbers of stock are co ordinated by the vets for purchasing routine vaccinations and Clik so that the costs are spread over several flocks.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    North East Coast

    Re: Sheep keeping advice

    I had a problem with a clean 'pet' lamb,couldn't see anything wrong but she was pulling her wool out,I had made up some Neem oil as a fly repellent for my cattle and decided to use what was left over on the lamb,poured it along her spine and lots of maggots decamped onto the floor,it was a cheap and very effective remedy

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