The Health of Your Sheep is Paramount.


De-worming-Lambs need to be on a de-worming schedule for their first year, maybe less depending on whether you have quality pasture. A lamb will die from an infestation. We do have adult sheep that have not been de-wormed in 7 years. This is due in part to the facts that we do not over graze our sheep and rotate pastures. Initially we thought we needed to de-worm everyone every 3 months no matter what. We didn't feel good about giving the sheep all of those chemicals if they may not need them. You just have to be observant and monitor them. Check the color of the inside lower eye lids using the Famacha scoring chart and their energy levels. We de-worm adults on an as needed basis. We decided to do this long ago, asked our vet about it and he agreed. 

Ear tags, tail docking and castration-What we have learned, believe me we are no experts, but for us it has proved best to do all of these things with-in the first week providing we have strong healthy lambs. Sometimes with a twin who is smaller and a bit weaker we wait until it doubles its weight. We do not give CD&T shots. We use a tetanus anti-toxin. We don't give the sheep the opportunity to overeat. The ear tags may wait longer, they don't seem to be bothered when the tag is applied.

Weighing lambs-Personally I feel more comfortable weighing my newborns daily to make sure they are gaining. It is some trouble, but well worth the peace of mind it gives me.


Feed- We give them non-GMO race horse oats, but only occasionally. We don't feed them unless we want them to move and then it is only a handful each. They get fat on grass, they don't need it unless you don't have adequate pasture. We feed brome hay when necessary, but that is usually because of a snow or ice cover. They love forbs, poison ivy, sweet potatoe and other vines, but especially grapevines. Grazing in the vineyard is limited when we are on a spraying schedule. Early spring is when they are allowed in before spraying occurs. We only let them in to eat the new growth that has not been in contact with spray long after the recommended length of time required as listed by the chemical company. In other words, if we won't even eat it because it has been sprayed, we certainly won't feed it to the sheep.

Mineral-Sheep need copper free loose mineral available at all times. We use some that is labeled All Stock. The little hanging fence feeders work well for that.

Hoof trimming-Depending on their environment sheep may need to have their hooves trimmed from 2-4 times a year. We live in an area that has few rocks. There is nothing for the sheep to wear their hooves off on. So, ideally our sheep would be trimmed 4 times a year.

Plant toxicity-We have learned the hard way what can happen if a farmer is uneducated about the dangers of some common trees and plants. We lost two of our best ewes to wild cherry trees. Some say sheep won't eat the bark off a tree. We don't just disagree, we know for a fact that they love the bark off of apple, cedar and some nut trees when the spring sap is flowing. Spring 2016 we opened up a new pasture thinking we were doing the sheep a favor. The first set of lambs were 8 week old when their mother was just staring into space. The next morning she wouldn't get up, she seemed stiff, in a couple of hours she was gone. Three days later our best ewe Cynthiana did the same thing. I de-wormed her (just in case, although she showed no signs of parasites), I gave her penicillin, I called the vet and she died before I got her there. I did have an autopsy performed along with a fecal and some other tests, he was convinced it was plant toxicity. When I got home I looked all over the field and in the woods. The spring leaves had just barely started to come out, I had been asked by my vet if there was a storm that caused any cherry limbs to break and wilt because that is the danger from those trees. That was not the case. The bark off of every wild cherry sapling was completely stripped off within reach. Every single wild cherry tree in the woods!! We had a third ewe acting sick the same day, I immediately moved her and her lambs out. Thank goodness she made a full recovery and has had healthy twins since. Needless to say we pulled 32 wild cherry trees up by the roots and burned them. We continue to monitor for new saplings and have never had another issue due to toxic plants or trees.

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Last updated 3/2/2020