Gotland Pelt sheep loosing fleece

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6 years 1 month ago #539477 by Crafnant22
Hi all,
Have just found and joined this group - already finding it a fabulous source of information! We have a small lifestyle block and have 6 Gotland Pelt sheep (1 ram, 5 ewes) which are just for lawnmowing :)
I have a concern that I'm hoping someone can help with please (owning sheep of any breed is new to us). One of the ewes recently (about 3 weeks ago) had pneumonia but has recovered well following medication from our vet. Yesterday I noticed some bald patches on her and today there are a lot more (approx a third of her). There are no signs of skin irritation and she is eating really well (plenty of grass for her and no competition for it), when I rubbed her fleece gently it just came away. My understanding is this breed can self shed albeit I understand this is probably the wrong time of year for that (?) so from my reading of previous questions in this forum it appears it may be a post pneumonia stress thing? Am I correct in assuming this and can anyone advise whether we should put some form of coat on her - weather temps are dropping at night but we do have some shelter for them. TIA

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6 years 1 month ago #539478 by LongRidge
Welcome.
When any breed of sheep has a stressful experience, the wool is the first thing to reduce or stop growing. That has happened to your sheep, and she was sick enough for her fleece to completely stop growing. Her new fleece is now growing and pushing the old fleece off. So not too much to worry about. But if the fleece starts falling out during pregnancy, that is a sign of not enough good quality food. This one of yours will possibly be late lambing.
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6 years 1 month ago #539480 by kate
It's called fleece break (or wool break) and as LR says it's a reaction to stress. Basically the wool fibres that are produced get thinner until they're so thin that they break.
Some of my goat kids got it this year after getting barber's pole worm infestations. The new fleece will grow immediately so you shouldn't have a problem.

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6 years 1 month ago #539481 by PremiumPoultry
I also had this happen last year at lambing time to one of my Suffolk ewes. She had triplets but lost them all. She was very stressed for about a week or so, and then the wool started falling off.
So definitely a stress related problem and if she is otherwise healthy it is not something that you need to worry about.
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6 years 1 month ago #539485 by muri
Just to clarify for you, Gotlands are not self shedding sheep and not sure if someone told you that information. In fact I dont think there are any breeds that are grown for their wool that are shedders. Shedding sheep are usually sheep that are meat sheep such as the Doprper or hair sheep such as the Damara.
The ewe will re-grow her wool
If you are in a high rainfall area it would be good if she can find shelter out of the rain over winter until she regrows and also ensure she has a mineral lick to help replenish herself after being ill

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6 years 1 month ago #539487 by Mudlerk
Illness can put a breaking strain in sheep's wool; that's one of the reason our Wiltshires are often mistaken for sick sheep by experienced traditional sheep owners! Hopefully, her wool will continue to grow out.
Sheep do have pretty good defences against cold; for example, according to that doyen of NZ sheep shearers, Godfrey Bowen, their skin thickness doubles within 24 hours of shearing. If she's recovering from pneumonia, though, maybe you do need to take special care of her?

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6 years 1 month ago #539496 by VioletFarmer
Like the other posters have said, its due to your ewe being under stress when she was ill. We had a lamb get through a fence into the red clover hay paddock last spring, we were away & he gutsed himself silly. We came home to a very bloated lamb, got some baking soda & water into him & crossed our fingers. He was okay the next day but his ears had swollen up & were hot to the touch. Over the next 2 days his ear swelling went down & the tips turned black, our neighbour advised smothering them with zinc cream, but they dried up and eventually fell off (leaving half an ear on each side, we used manuka honey to help heal the ends, which took a few weeks). Two weeks after he got into the clover, his wool came off all down his back and half way down his sides, he was left with bare skin in very hot weather in December- we made a shade cover in a corner of the paddock & put zinc on the skin every day to avoid sunburn. He looked pretty rough for a few months, but has grown the wool back & put condition back on & is the same size as the other lambs again. The only sign he was ill, is a 1cm strip down his spine hasn't grown the wool back. Just give your ewe the best feed you can heading into winter & if the grass isn't too fab, red clover or lucerne hay is great for putting condition back on- feeding it as chaff reduces wastage too.

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6 years 1 month ago #539497 by Bibby
Others may disagree, but I think of Gotlands as being able to shed their fleeces but a bit different from a proper shedding breed, and therefore they should really be shorn.

They seem to be quite prone to wool break, and often develop a weakness in their wool when they lamb, or are otherwise stressed. Their fleece stays on however, often for a number of months afterwards, and it's not until it starts to get matted that bigger chunks of fleece start to come off as the weight of the fleece breaks the weak points. Depending on the time of year that they are shorn, this can be hard on them as it means they carry a heavy fleece through summer, and they might not shed properly so it can just end up as a matted mess. Having said that, I have had some that were shorn pre-lambing that then shed off small bits of short pieces/clumps of wool a month or two later, so they can be quite variable. I also once visited someone whose had a Gotland ewe that had shed a complete rug-like felted fleece.

Personally I shear my Gotland ewes pre-lambing, and again at the beginning of summer, so that I can get a good fleece off them that grows through summer until the pre-lamb shearing. I also shear my lambs in autumn. That's quite a bit of shearing, with three visits per year from the shearer, but it does mean I get better fleeces as they don't have a break in them and they are taken off before they start to get matted. This tendency to get matted is what makes their wool so good for felting :).

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6 years 1 month ago #539510 by muri
Bibby, have never had wool break or any form of shedding in Gotlands and have had them for 10 years. I think what you may be describing is felting of long wool which will of course once really matted be prone to breaking off.
I have Damara as well, which are shedding sheep, they do kind of felt their wool/hair sometimes before shedding but the Gotland has nothing like their shedding

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6 years 1 month ago #539584 by Wren

Bibby wrote: Their fleece stays on however, often for a number of months afterwards, and it's not until it starts to get matted that bigger chunks of fleece start to come off as the weight of the fleece breaks the weak points. Depending on the time of year that they are shorn, this can be hard on them as it means they carry a heavy fleece through summer, and they might not shed properly so it can just end up as a matted mess.


I don't think it's really fair to let your sheep get into this state without shearing earlier. The first year we had them we only had them shorn once in 12 months, but now are on a spring and late-summer/early-autumn 6 monthly shearing schedule because their fleece got too long in the 12 months and I wasn't comfortable with them going through winter with such a heavy fleece. But even in that first year we didn't see anything falling out from being felted, so I'd be worried at how long it would have to be between shearing for this to happen....

Muddling our way through 1Ha on the Christchurch Port Hills, with flocks of heritage chickens, Silver Appleyard ducks, Gotland sheep, and Arapawa goats.
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6 years 4 weeks ago #539654 by Inger
As a fellow Gotland breeder I can assure you that the loss of her wool is due to her illness. I have also had a ewe that became run down, but it was because of worms and she was feeding twins at the time. I drenched her and she came right, but her wool fell out, so I put a calf cover on her, to prevent sunburn.

She has since grown back all her wool, but it is now black, instead of the silver grey she used to be. She cycled last week and is in with the ram. So is in good health, despite her 10 years.

Since your ewes illness was more serious, keep an eye on her and make sure she has shelter to go into. Because the temperatures are falling, I would give her a cover. If your area has the nasty green blowflies, spray her with a fly preventative to deture flies from settling on her. Give her your best grazing and she should come right in a few weeks.

45 hectares between Whangarei and Paparoa. Registered Dexter cattle, Wiltshire sheep - black, white & pied.
New Hampshire Red poultry & Dorking poultry. Pilgrim Geese, Appleyard Ducks.
A cat called Pusscat and still looking for another heading dog.

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