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Thread: Can farms become Sheep Sick?

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Northumberland
    Posts
    1

    Can farms become Sheep Sick?

    Hi all,

    Will seriously welcome your thoughts.

    We run 200 ewes in Northumberland. The majority are Texel Cross, most are very texel.

    We ran a closed flock until two years ago when we had nearly all tup lambs, very strange. It left us short of replacements and given a bit of a lack of prolificacy we decided to buy in some mule ewes to hybridise the flock a little more again.

    This as it turns out, was a bit of a disaster, after years of no foot issues, we now have lots of lameness.

    On top of that the tups have not returned to fitness post tupping, we have never had an issue with this before. They look awful.

    I used to work for Cox Agri/Allflex and we had a product called Farmers Choice Ovine Conditioner, I got a great deal and was able to buy this at Cost price when it was Cox Agri. We used it regularly on farm, it had lots of vitamin K and I wonder if that is why their feet were so fabulous?

    Anyway, we swapped to boluses this year (I left the business) on the recommendation of our vet to try and improve prolificacy.

    Tups were slow to tup, they have not returned to condition, we have just started lambing and we have MASSIVE lambs and difficult lambings from day one.

    There are so many variables here which don't help. But over the last few years our output has been getting gradually worse, less prolificacy, fantastic lambs, but not enough of them. Now with the foot problems and an awful start to lambing we are not happy sheep farmers.

    Talking with our scanner, he mentioned he has known farms become sheep sick, essentially having had sheep on them for too long without a break that they just become incredibly hard work, and difficult to get anything right.

    Has anyone come across this? Or are we being miserable, bad sheep farmers who are doing a terrible job?

    As an FYI the majority of the business is Free Range Hens, the flock has been reduced to 200 ewes for what we can realistically fit in. We are not enjoying ourselves with the sheep this year at all having been sheep farmers all our lives.

    Sorry for the thoroughly depressing post ...

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    NI
    Posts
    490

    Re: Can farms become Sheep Sick?

    Here's my take on it FWIW!

    Your problems started with the feet, and your (totally understandable) over-reaction to that has triggered most of your other problems by causing mineral and vitamin imbalances which weren't the issue in the first place.

    Increased lameness is a near certainty when you introduce "strangers" to a flock. Your existing flock will have problems, plus the new arrivals will most likely have problems too so it's easy to blame them. But in reality what's happened is that both lots have been exposed to a different strain of the bacteria on their feet, some will deal with it, some will get infected (usually starting off as scald) and go lame.

    Unless your ground is in an area with some positively identified inherent deficiency there should be no need for boluses. We quit them two years ago and have seen no negatives, we also quit all the "lamb boosters" at birth type products three years ago and have seen no negatives. The sheep are grazed well, get standard lick buckets from about November/December on depending on grass and weather, and concentrates according to number of lambs for about the last 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. We've quit all other "across the board" nutritional and mineral/vitamin products over the past few years and have seen absolutely no downsides.

    For the lameness you probably just need to persevere and get your hands on anything that goes lame almost immediately, give it a check for anything major (which there probably won't be!), and a good coating with an antibiotic spray, concentrating on the area between the hooves. That might seem obvious but it's amazing how many people just spray over a lot of compacted dung or dirt and then complain that the spray does no good! Whatever you do, don't use a formalin foot bath, if you thought things were bad before you'd soon know what bad was! It's time and labour consuming but eventually things will settle down.

    As I say, just my take on it from personal experience, others may differ.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    NI
    Posts
    490

    Re: Can farms become Sheep Sick?

    Here's my take on it FWIW!

    Your problems started with the feet, and your (totally understandable) over-reaction to that has triggered most of your other problems by causing mineral and vitamin imbalances which weren't the issue in the first place.

    Increased lameness is a near certainty when you introduce "strangers" to a flock. Your existing flock will have problems, plus the new arrivals will most likely have problems too so it's easy to blame them. But in reality what's happened is that both lots have been exposed to a different strain of bacteria on their feet, some will deal with it, some will get infected (usually starting off as scald) and go lame.

    Unless your ground is in an area with some positively identified inherent deficiency there should be no need for boluses. We quit them two years ago and have seen no negatives, we also quit all the "lamb boosters" at birth type products three years ago and have seen no negatives. The sheep are grazed well, get standard lick buckets from about November/December on depending on grass and weather, and concentrates according to number of lambs for about the last 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. We've quit all other "across the board" nutritional and mineral/vitamin products over the past few years and have seen absolutely no downsides.

    For the lameness you probably just need to persevere and get your hands on anything that goes lame almost immediately, give it a check for anything major (which there probably won't be!), and a good coating with an antibiotic spray, concentrating on the area between the hooves. That might seem obvious but it's amazing how many people just spray over a lot of compacted dung or dirt and then complain that the spray does no good! Whatever you do, don't use a formalin foot bath, if you thought things were bad before you'd soon know what bad was! It's time and labour consuming but eventually things will settle down.

    As I say, just my take on it from personal experience, others may differ.

    Good luck!

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