April 9, 2009

Shepherdess in Training

If you were to ask me anything about goats, I could probably answer off the top of my head. If I do not have first hand knowledge/experience I know many that have and could find the answer quickly. 10 years of being owned by goats I have been there, done that and am still doing it. When it comes to the care of goats I have all the confidence in the world in myself.
Goat are truly amazing creatures. My day would not be complete and life on the farmstead would not be the same without our goats.
My parents say I came by it honestly, it is in my blood and I was born to be goat herding. According to them our Irish last name also roughly translates to " from goat hill or goat herder". Plus my great grandparents and grand parents raised goats.

You would think that I could just jump right in with caring for sheep. After all they are both ruminates, similar in their basic needs, behavior and maintenance. Oh I definitely know there are differences, especially after our experiences with our last flock of Suffolk and Polypay.

Before I cause anyone to worry …all the sheep are doing fine.
The Shetland boys are perfect, well besides 2 still needing to be sheared. Angus did push Jim’s patiences a bit too far while he was home on vacation. Angus is too smart for his own good. Seems that since shearing made the boy much, much smaller he found a few more weak places in the fence and believe it or not low crawled under to the neighbors property. Not once but 3 times. He would have never been able to do this with his fleece before shearing. The fleece would have gotten caught up in the fencing and he would have had to be cut free. Being bald, nothing there to stop him you know. I told Jim he shouldn’t be aggravated, Angus was just helping him find and fix fence problems. LOL
Aberdeen alerted us to the fact that Angus had escaped to greener pastures. Deenie still likes to be velcro’ed to Angus’ side. Once Angus was out of sight Aberdeen was screaming bloody murder for his brother. Plus the neighbors called once when they saw Angus out and about grazing. Kelly and Kirby are the perfect little angels of the group.

Scarlet and Pittypat are doing wonderfully well too. The only problem I am having is with their sheep berries. We switched them from goat milk to lamb milk replacer. Now don’t get me wrong. I 100 % believe in goat milk being good for many orphaned animals. Just believe that bottle babies need breed specific milk replacer (lamb’s milk is also richer than goat milk). I slowly changed over to the replacer though in doing so it lead to clumpy berries. It is slowly straightening out. There are no problems with their eating, peeing, chewing their cud. They are eating hay, a bit of lamb ration, drinking water in addition to their bottles ...they are the sweetest little things. Just absolutely adore them.

I introduced Scarlet and Pittypat (through the fence) to the Shetland boys yesterday. Of course only Angus had a problem with them. He attempted to head butt them. What a character he has become.

Scarlet and Pittypat are our first bummers (orphaned or bottle lambs). Our previous ewes were excellent mothers and we never had to bottle feed. They raised their lambs without any assistance and to be honest I did not pay much attention to detail other than to check and see if the lambs were nursing and the ewes had plenty of milk.
Something new I just found out is that lambs are supposedly weaned earlier than goat kids. Another shepherdess passed along the info that ewes start weaning their lambs at about 6 to 8 weeks old. Definitely different than the goats, with the meat and fiber does(goats) that dam raise their kids some will nurse up to 5 months old. In pulling and bottle feeding the dairy kids standard weaning age is 3-4 months.
Here I was prepared to bottle Scarlet and Pittypat until they were 12-16 weeks old.
Seems I have a ways to go on shepherding ... I learn something new everyday!


Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

we've bought a buckling who was born on 3/31 and the breeder will let him go at 8 weeks. I know he is red but haven't actually seen him yet.

Tammy said...

Glad to hear all the sheepies are doing well. Sorry Angus is being such a pain and finding all the 'weak' areas in the fence. It is a whole new ballgame once those fluffballs are sheared. They are like cats--if they can get their heads through the rest will follow it seems. Your new babies are very cute. I usually 'force' wean the lambs here at 3 months for the ones that are going to be sold. I leave the ewe lambs with their moms if they aren't sold, and believe me they never wean their babies....I still have them nursing at six months or until breeding season comes and they get seperated. It's all very traumatic for them and you'd think I was taking two week old babies off them instead of six month monsters. Granted they aren't producing much milk, so I guess it's more of a security blanket issue. However, I'm sure that by 8 weeks, if they are eating solid foods they can be weaned off a bottle. Surely! ha...
Tammy (p.s. if you ever have any sheepie questions you think I can help with, let me know.)

DayPhoto said...

I have found this a very informative post. Although, we will probably not be raising sheep or goats, just learning how others do things is fun.


Jennifer said...

The sheep are very cute!