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Thread: Oh Quite the Quantry (sheep issue)

  1. #1

    Oh Quite the Quantry (sheep issue)

    It's not really good, my lamb crop was pitiful this year because I got my sheep during the breeding season last year and the stress caused the sheep to have singles and not twins or triplets which sheep are known for. This gives me one ewe to retain for breeding stock and one ram-lamb to sell in 200 days. For cash flow...that isn't good.

    I just found out that the local college here is getting rid of their sheep program. They are all but giving these sheep away (7 ewes and 1 ram). The price is good, but they have health issues. Foot Rot...which on many farms would mean culling.

    I can get them for next to nothing and up my flock count to 14, but Foot Rot is not something to take lightly. First it could affect my current sheep negatively as it is highly contagious, meaning I will have to manage two flocks separately for most of the summer. I would basically be trading some serious flock management time for a incredibly cheap price. If I can get a grip on the foot rot issue with only a marginal amount of money, I will be ahead of the game. In fact it would jump my farm ahead by 2 years as far as numbers go.

    So far, no help...some say under no circumstances should I take the sheep, while others feel foot rot is no big deal. Ironically though, the college is coming out to see my farm to see if it is up to standards. This is interesting because my sheep are healthy and they are going to see if I am up to standards??? The biggest problem is, like many that jump into livestock...they see livestock as the answer to a problem without fully realizing the care they take. In this case the environmental college wanted to use the sheep as environmentally friendly lawnmowers, but did not realize sheep need a fare amount of management to keep under control.

    Its a hard decision for sure. I will offer them wool prices for the 8 sheep and see if my farm passes inspection.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Travis, the tone of your post does not sound encouraging. Forgive me for reading between the lines, but methinks you have already decided to not take the sheep from the college.
    I don't know anything about the foot rot problem, but if it isn't easily curable (and the college would have taken those steps if it was), the should head directly to the slaughter house. That's IMHO.
    Aren't there other sheep readily available in your area?

  3. #3
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    The financial benefit for cheap sheep might be there, but the potential for bad things to happen to your existing flock could be a big negative financial hit. Only you know of you're willing and able to take that hit, should it come to that.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  4. #4
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    Travis go for the additional flock. I have fifty years of livestock problems and they all stem from management. Those sheep need something in their diet. And it is likely a mineral deficiency. Iodine and selenium are both imprortant in health issues. If locally you all feel contagon; build a foot bath and walk them through it. Keep us up-to-date on what you do. Ray Gerdes

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Gerdes View Post
    Travis go for the additional flock. I have fifty years of livestock problems and they all stem from management. Those sheep need something in their diet. And it is likely a mineral deficiency. Iodine and selenium are both imprortant in health issues. If locally you all feel contagon; build a foot bath and walk them through it. Keep us up-to-date on what you do. Ray Gerdes
    Yeah it is definately a management issue, in fact that is one of the reasons they are getting out of sheep. The students are supposed to be helping with them, but when the students are out on vacation, it falls upon the program director and his time with sheep is limited.

    I think part of the problem is the location too. They are in a very low land situation where there is lots of mud. With the recent rains (remember my post about flooding) they are wallowing in mud which is the primary cause of foot rot. I live on a hill where my pastures are high and dry and there will be just me keeping an eye on them.

    My experiences with foot rot on the dairy farms (cows get it too) is that it is curable. On the smaller farms it is less frequent but on the big farm where the cows are in water up to their ankles all day long, its a daily struggle. There we use copper sulfate in a foot bath every week and its potent stuff. Of course sheep are prone to copper poising, but my sheep are running at 4 ppm and they can get 12-16 ppm before it becomes an issue. The college is battling it with zinc sulfate, which is okay since it is non-toxic but its also...well...non-toxic.

    I am still entertaining the issue as I type this, and I am thinking about offering them wool value for the sheep but no more. I cannot slaughter them because of the active use of antibiotics, and I doubt other sheep farmers would want the management hassles eradicating this hoof rot will entail. If they don't go for it, then I'm not out nothing since I can shear them and recover the money from the wool.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  6. #6
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    Travis - I'm not a veterinarian by any stretch and biology is not my strong suit, but just from what you've described to me doesn't definitively mean contagion. Could this foot rot disease just be an environmental issue? In which case if you're able to keep your existing herd healthy, doing what you're doing would be expected to clear up the issue with the other sheep. Give your large animal veterinarian a call to get the real info on foot rot is what I would do if you're getting all these different answers from other herders. It is very easy to confuse contagion and environmental issues as a disease cause for a small, localized population.

    While talking to your vet, if it really is a microbial disease, you need to find out how far away the two pastures need to be and how long after symptoms go away can you bring the herds together again and also how long before the healthy herd can then use the infected pasture. Microbes can move along the ground and in water also - they aren't limited to host movement, though that is usually the fastest mode of movement.

    All this is from a general science background - I know nothing about agriculture other than to be glad there are Travis's and Raymond's out there who are or who used to put food into the aisles of the local grocery store.

    Good luck whatever you do!

  7. #7
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    Travis, out of curiosity what can you sell the wool from one sheep for? The only thing I know about sheep, after working at a small farm/ranch last summer, is they are rather dense! (I'm being polite here!) The sheep did not produce wool. They were just for meat. Don't remember what kind they were.
    Aloha,

    What goes around, comes around.

  8. #8
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    The most expensive horse I ever got was free!!
    With that said, if it is highly contagious, make sure they step in a foot wash before tracking all over your clean farm.
    Hoof rot, haven't looked it up, but horses with infections in their hooves is commonly called thrush. Generally from standing in wet, be it urine soaked manure or wet ground. Also, if these sheep haven't been managed well, I would assume their hooves are overgrown and have trapped a bunch of crud in there. Proper hoof trimming and a foot bath in and out of the barn treat them?
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

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  9. #9
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    I'm familiar with the mud and foot problems in cattle, and the copper sulfate wash as a cure/remedy as well. But sheeps is diff'rnt critters, I have no knowledge there. And, I gave away all my reference books when we sold the cattle.
    Pity the college got an 'F' in animal care. Usually a college or university ag department is a showcase example of how to do things the right way.
    Somebody there needs to be stood in the mud as an example.
    BTW, I'm on the other side of the antibiotic issue. But, that is a long-long debate subject more suited for off-forum.

  10. #10
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    Go for it Travis,, your still a small enough operation o the sheep side you will have a handle on it due time.

    I do find it amusing they want to inspect you, Oh though I do understand their reasoning. But we know you,, they don't really.
    Throw Apples out the Windows, but make sure not to hit the Penguin.

    If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it canít be done.

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