Handling lambs

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2 years 3 months ago #556675 by Kokamo
Handling lambs was created by Kokamo
We just got some 4-5 month old Wiltshire lambs. They're pretty calm, quite easy to get them into our yards, but once there, trying to handle them is chaos, even the shearers had trouble holding them for crutching. I've been watching the LSB course about sheep management, trimming hooves, checking body condition, looking at eyes, I just don't see how we're going to do that with these little balls of energy. Watching Country Calendar tonight, the Romney lambs filed peacefully through the race, and let the farm staff move among them calmly. Is this a breed thing or an age thing, will they calm down? Is there anything we can do to calm them down?

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2 years 3 months ago #556676 by jeannielea
Replied by jeannielea on topic Handling lambs
They need to get to know you! Talk to them so they learn your voices and get some sheep nuts to give them as a treat. You don't need to give them much - just enough a couple of times a week and spread them out around you so they learn to you are okay to be near. Our Wiltis were a bit stroppy in the race when needing to be handled and few sheep like having a foot held for trimming. But if they trust you things will become much easier though my experience is that Wilti rams can become very feisty when they are adults so hope any males you have are castrated

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2 years 3 months ago #556677 by kate
Replied by kate on topic Handling lambs
Hi Kokamo

Jeannielea is right, they just need to get used to you and to being handled.

If you have some time, go and spend time with them. Sit somewhere close and read a book. I used to read aloud to my new animals. After a time they'll realise you're not going to spring out and grab them. Food helps. Do they eat sheep nuts? If so then feed some on the ground and retreat. If you do it regularly they'll literally be eating out of your hands soon :cheer:

Sheep are naturally suspicious but they can be tamed - it just takes time and patience. They're prey animals, in a small flock, in an new environment with no 'grown ups' to lead them. Their nature is making them hyper-vigilant and none of us is at our most logical when we're like that. It's your job to let them know you're not a threat B)

Good luck!

Web Goddess

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2 years 3 months ago #556678 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic Handling lambs
Yes to both answers, but Wiltshires do tend to be more feisty than other breeds, except perhaps Cheviots. Also to the above, try to leave them to settle down for 10 minutes before handling them. Don't try to handle them early morning dawn, or late afternoon evening. Until about 2 years old they tend to display "teenage" behaviour" .

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2 years 3 months ago #556683 by Kokamo
Replied by Kokamo on topic Handling lambs
Thanks for all the suggestions, we do walk around them quite a bit, but haven't actually sat with them, or talked much. We did try sheep nuts, but there's one bully who eats most of them and tries to stop others getting to them...he's about to leave, we weren't supposed to have any intact boys, so once he's gone we'll try the nuts again. We did make them some nice shelters due to our lack of sizable trees, and they seem to appreciate that.

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2 years 3 months ago #556693 by tonybaker
Replied by tonybaker on topic Handling lambs
I have Wiltshires and find them very tame, but I guess genetics come into it a bit as the mums are tame. It takes about 2 seasons for the lambs to get used to you being close to them. I feed all our kitchen scraps to them every morning so they get used to me being close. Keep feeding them and they will come right. Feed them some tree trimmings, they enjoy roughage more than normal breeds. They know what's not good for them so don't worry about poisonous plants. You may notice that with new feed, they will eat a small amount and leave it for a few days then come back to it. This is how they find out if it's good for them or not. My Wiltshires will not eat hay under any circumstances! luckily I have plenty of Tree Lucerne around, which they love.

5 acres, Ferguson 35X and implements, Hanmay pto shredder, BMW Z3, Countax ride on mower, chooks, Dorper and Wiltshire sheep. Bosky wood burning central heating stove and radiators. Retro caravan. Growing our own food and preserving it. Small vineyard, crap wine. :)

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2 years 3 months ago #556762 by Kokamo
Replied by Kokamo on topic Handling lambs
Thanks Tony, that's really helpful, good to hear from someone who has them. We don't have many trees ourselves yet, but have planted some tree lucerne so that'll be good in a year or so. There are wild poplars down the roadside, we could go trim a few branches off them. They are enjoying multifeed nuts, almost at the top we can handfeed one, and the others will gradually follow I think. When you say 'two seasons' do you mean six months, or two generations?
Question though, these 11 are nervous but just manageable, if we got another 5 from a flock that gets almost no handling and is quite nutty, do you think the current flock would calm them down over time, with on going sheep nuts and regular human interaction.

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2 years 2 months ago #556778 by tonybaker
Replied by tonybaker on topic Handling lambs
I meant two years, but the way to go is to hand feed them often. I noticed recently that my two last years lambs are just letting me stroke their heads now. The other advantage of hand feeding is that when it comes time to cart them off to the works, you can just leave the cage on the trailer with the door open, put some feed inside and they will jump in. Do this a few days before you want to transport them so they get used to it. I tie a rope to the cage door and so far I have been able to trap them inside quite easily.

5 acres, Ferguson 35X and implements, Hanmay pto shredder, BMW Z3, Countax ride on mower, chooks, Dorper and Wiltshire sheep. Bosky wood burning central heating stove and radiators. Retro caravan. Growing our own food and preserving it. Small vineyard, crap wine. :)

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