the down sides of keeping sheep

What sort of day have you had?

Here it is – day 2 of harvest 2009 so already Jethro is immersed in big machines. He is now gone all day driving the combine and reported this morning that he didn’t get to bed until 1 am last night, and this is only the very start of the season!

My day has been really thrilling… since the monsoon last Thursday [2 inches of rain fell in a few hours] we appear to have had an explosion of flies out in the countryside resulting in a major attack of fly-strike in the sheep, despite the long acting repellent they had sprayed on to them earlier in the season.

For the first part of today I spent several hours picking maggots and unhatched eggs off the worst of the poor sheep, after first applying a hefty dose of Crovec to kill the eggs and larvae. Later we sorted out the rams dealing with their fly attacks they’d had and while we had them in we trimmed their feet and marked a few to send away that are not good enough to breed from, or have perhaps passed their prime.

There is nothing like a really smelly finish to the day with the all pervading smell of rotten rams feet still lingering in the nostrils as one starts to cook supper, lamb burgers of course!

Tomorrow, we will get in all the rest of the sheep in and check them all over for strike. We will also be applying a preventative dose of Crovec to the whole flock and this will hopefully last the rest of the fly season out. We ordered this product urgently this morning to be delivered later today as the stocks we normally keep on the farm are enough to treat an outbreak but we do not keep enough in stock to do the whole flock as preventive treatment.

At the same time as checking them and treating them I was weighing and marking the lambs with coloured spray marker which will be ready for slaughter soon. I mark them really clearly so these lambs do not get any fly repellent sprayed on at all. As big strong animals, who remain close to their mothers who are sprayed, they should not be subjected to an attack by blowflies. The meat withdrawal times are 8 days on Crovec and I always more than double this before sending any animals away and if possible like today I simply do not use a product like this on any animal due for slaughter in the next few weeks. At this time of the year it becomes a finite balance of keeping the animals well and protected from insects and also making sure any animals sold for meat sold are totally safe and wholesome.

We have also had the vet here today for poorly pigs but I shall tell you about that tomorrow.

So much has happened here on the farm since June. Currently, we have over 50 piglets, 30 calves and several hundred lambs. Yesterday we were wrapping the last of the silage bales [cattle food for the winter] and also combining.. We were a trifle stretched, everything seems to happen at once and there is no time for anything much least of all blogging, but I am back now after a fair gap and with your support I hope to keep going.



Filed under Blogging, Country Life, food and farming, rural musings, Food, Life

7 responses to “the down sides of keeping sheep

  1. That sounds like very hard and unpleasant work

  2. Tiggywinkle

    I was wondering how you were, and delighted to have yet another interesting farming lesson. You must be as fit as a fiddle, and how you manage such a work load amazes me. Looking forward to hearing about the piggies.

  3. Glad to see you have had enough time to blog! Sheep feet smell sounds unpleasant! Your lamburgers reminds me of when I was a student nurse and had watched a heart surgery operation only to come down to the dining room to find we had lambs hearts for lunch!!!

  4. Pondside

    You paint with a real paintbrush, don’t you? Everyone should have a chance to visit a real farm and to see where food comes from and the work that goes into raising animals.
    I love lamb burgers, and they are not easy to find here. I might have gone for bacon and eggs after a day like yours, though.

  5. Oh, fly strike is the worst! One of my Swaledales got it last year. One day he was fine and the next he had a huge bald patch. I got it cleared up though. Thankfully never had it in my Shetlands but I’ve been worried considering the weather this year. Hope they’re all ok and that you manage to get some rest!

  6. Wow and you found time to blog. Golly it does sound like hard work and fly strike is sooo horrid. My M&D have a tiny flock, compared to yours, or Herdwicks last year they lost one to fly strike it happened so quickly. This year although the ram got hit they got it early enough not to be a problem and did the others at the same time as a just in case. It has been the weather for it recently the flies have loved it.
    Oh dear poor pigs hope that they are feeling better soon.

  7. Sheep, sheep and more sheep – don’t you get sick of ’em, especially when they cost a fortune and give little reward! The smell of sheep lingers in our house often, and the wrath of flies is back!

    CJ xx

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