Sheep worming

Well, what an eventful few days it has been, and not really that great, but I’ll elaborate more on that in the next entry. On Saturday we attempted to catch and worm the sheep. The plan was to catch them all in the catch pen and then worm them, check their feet, trim hooves if needed and then release them. Well Soays being Soays we had to allow plenty of time for this epic.

Soays can jump, I knew this because I had read it in a book, but it didn’t really sink in until I saw the whole flock sail over the fence as easily as if they were stepping over a mole hill. I looked at Becky, as they galloped away up the plot towards our veg patch, and said ‘oh shit’. Luckily our plot has a pretty good boundary fence on it’s furthest periminters, but still.. herding them back into the original paddock was going to be a lark, let alone catching the buggers for worming.

Anyway, I won’t bore you with the details but I took on the role of Shep the sheep dog and Becky stood on the other side of the fence with the view to catching ( in mid air) any that tried to jump the fence. Not sure how successful that would have been with a 40kg ram, but we have to start with a plan.

This charade went on for a couple of hours, and it’s a good job the pair of us are in reasonable shape, as Soays are quick and basically wild. After lots of chin scratching and scheming we eventually moved the catch pen and with much cunning and stealth caught 3 out of the 5.

The worming solution is syringed straight into the sheeps mouth in the correct quantity, this went without a hitch. I haven’t handled them so much before, they have lovely soft mouths like little horses and very sweet faces. I then worked round triming excess horn off the hooves to give a better walking surfaces. Tools I would recommend for the job are hoof trimers, voilet spray ( just in case you find any hoof problems), and a hoof pick. For the worming we used a combo fluid and a smallish plastic syringe. We also used a spray can of marking paint to mark the ones we did. The ram, Mr Darcy, escaped worming, so we will be repeating the whole pantomime this weekend.

Roll up, roll up and take your seats for the Soay rodeo.. Mind you, you’ll have to elbow the goats out of the way, as they seemed to think it was some kind if experimental theatre and spend the whole time with their noses pressed up against the fence gawping.

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2 responses to “Sheep worming

  • Priscilla Weaver

    Hello from another Soay shepherd,
    Oh my — jumping fences and wearing out shepherds? I can’t imagine undergoing all that stress. If you want to change your flock’s behavior, try walking among them every time you go out to feed, occasionally taking a treats bucket to the ewes (not the rams), and generally getting the animals used to your presence. Carrying scraps of hog panel or even walking sticks to “extend” your arms also will give you more control of the roundup. But mostly, if you are calm and you get your Soay comfortable with your presence, they will still look at you as if to say, “not again, I hate this roundup business” but they will go along with the program. You don’t have to put up with jumping and craziness unless you want to. For every report that Soay are “flighty” or “won’t flock,” you’ll find Soay breeders whose flocks behave quite nicely and are a delight to be around. Give it a try and let me know how it goes — and good luck! Priscilla @ Saltmarsh Ranch Soay sheep

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