It was time for my small flock to get their dose of wormer, a foot trim, and general check-up. I haven't bought a worming gun yet because of the expense, but I do have large syringes and I figured these would work just as well - without the needles attached of course. I'd never done a foot trim before but I looked it up in my Practical Sheep Keeping book and it seemed straighforward enough. I have foot shears and a knife, and antiseptic spray left over from treating dog wounds not worth stitching.
I think the sheep knew I was coming. All were perfectly sound the night before. By morning, Eurdora was lame on her front foot, and Eunice (newest ewe lamb) was lame behind. Typical. This was going to test my severely limited knowledge of foot care. It did.
I only have 6 ewes but it took me a good hour to pen them up, and catch hold of each one to perform the necessary ablutions. First I trimmed all four feet -
Finish with a bit of blue spray, the shepherd's friend, between the toes -
I've learned to wear gloves because the blue won't wash off your skin, it has to wear off in its own time.
The lambs were exempt from the worming and pruning, but they hung around to watch -
My syringe delivery system worked great -
With one small caveat: I forgot the blue spray residue on my gloves -
And now the ladies all have blue moustaches for the next week or so -
Nevermind. I'll pretend it's an homage to Salvador Dali.
I couldn't figure out what was wrong with either of the lame sheep. It wasn't obvious, no thorns or hot spots or rank smells. I needed a second (knowledgeable) opinion. Dickie the shepherd came and had a look for me the following day, by which time Eunice was better and Eudora was worse.
Foot rot. There was a small crack on the side of Eudora's foot which had allowed the bacteria to enter. We burst the infection examining her which made her immediately more comfortable. When I moved the fence to give them fresh grass today, Eudora was noticeably better, but I will probably get her a shot of penicillin from the vets Monday morning, just to be sure. Looks like I'll have a chance to practice my intra-muscular shots then.
But now Eunice the lamb has gone lame again, and I can't figure out what's wrong with her. I hope Dickie's free tomorrow.
Autumn is over in our part of England. High winds have cleared the trees in our garden of leaves and apples. It's been wet every day so Milkweed is more bog than field. Our dew pond is full again which might attact a few passing ducks. But the cold and wet condition takes its toll on all the animals. I rigged up another creep feeder to supplement the lambs -
They will still suckle from their mothers but the extra nutrition will benefit both parties.
The dogs have done 20 days on the shooting field already. Dulcie can't hold onto any weight and halfway through a wet cold day she "hit the wall" as runners say. I always carry a mini Mars bar for this sort of emergency. A quick release of glucose and the afternoon off brought her around. But the best thing we've done is install a heat lamp in the spare kennel -
It's only one of the lamps I use to keep day old chicks under, but with the kennel door closed it produces a comfortable ambient temperature. Now at the end of a work day, I can towel off the spaniels and put their coats on them to keep their muscles warm while they dry off. And I can put them directly into a warm, dry kennel in a fresh bed of straw. I still need to wire the lamp in properly but it's doing the job for now, plugged in to a waterproof socket.
Kenneled working dogs have hugely different requirements to pet dogs. They need to grow a weatherproof coat, but they also need a warm, dry place to relax and sleep. Dulcie, Podge, and Spud are having 3 feeds a day to maintain their weight, including high calorie foods like oil and eggs. It's like feeding atheletes.
I adjust the dogs' diet every week based on their workload and how much weight they're holding. Jazz and Pip are great at maintaining their weight, but both are lazy and know how to shut off on days they don't work. Dakota holds her weight because she lives indoors. The others need extra care.
It took me time to build up experiential knowledge about dogs and about horses. I hope in time that I'll be able to build enough of the requisite knowledge to make sure my sheep are at their best. So far the sheep are surviving in spite of me.