How To Keep Healthy Sheep?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by CrownPoint, Jul 21, 2006.

  1. CrownPoint

    CrownPoint Well-Known Member

    Jun 25, 2006
    I have had sheep for a few years now. I have always stayed around 6-12 sheep in my flock. I am in the process of renovating the barn and would like to increase the number of sheep. Maybe 100-150 head.

    I will be buying ewes from others and raising my own too. I understand there is a chance of getting diseases when buying livestock. What is the best way to stay away from problems when your buying sheep and adding them to your healthy flock? The sheep are a commercial flock(mixed breeds) Tunis, Romney, Dorset crosses. I am concerned with footrot, sore mouth, scrappie, OPP to name a few. I have a good preventative parasite program and evaluate the herd daily. Any suggestions and helpful hints would be appreciated.

    I will be providing meat for sale at farmers markets and my wife spins. We want to provide the best product we can and provide as much of the product as we can without creating major problems in the health of our animals. Thanks for your help in advance.

    Ron, Jennifer & Dorothy
  2. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, there anybody in there.....? Supporter

    Jul 12, 2006
    Eastern North Carolina
    If it were me I would only buy directly from breeders instead of at auctions. That way you can find out about any problems beforehand, and they havent been exposed to as many other flocks. And if possible when you bring new ones home isolate them for a while to see if any problems arise before you mingle them with yours

  3. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 6, 2004
    Michigan's thumb
    I bought my first three sheep from a couple who only raised that breed. The ewes were seen by a vet before we took them. They promptly came down with a respiratory infection. My vet suggested that they just picked up a bug that my farm had that their previous home did not, and they'd be fine with a single antibiotic injection. They were. The next two sheep were from a friend of mine who I knew she was very meticulous about taking care of her flock. These two sheep were quarantined for (I forget how long). If I brought in more sheep, I would quarantine them before putting them in with the others. I'd also buy from a farm rather than from auction. Even if the sheep were healthy when they left home, they could pick up something from the auction barn.
  4. Sprout

    Sprout Well-Known Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    The Sunny Okie transplant ground of Californie
    Dito what the first two said. Buying at auctions not only are you getting sheep that have been exposed to many new pathogens at the auction, they will have a no herd hierarchy, and you may end up getting someones culls, infact alot of culls. It is common practice here to take animals that should be eaten to the auction and to advertise for breeding stock. If you can find a breeding stock sale they are generaly more cautious about watching for culls but prices would be higher. I would go with the individual farmer even though you'll have to listen to his speech about his flock and the superiority of his breed(lol we're not all that bad).

    Also as general practice any new animal that comes onto the farm or any animals that have left the premisis and then returned are quarantined for two weeks in a separate pasture downwind and downstream from the home animals. It's just a good idea. (we got a nice virulent strand of fast acting phnumonia tha way) You never know what you could be bringing home. It is also good to wash your trailer tires and towing vehicle tires before you come onto your farm and to have the animals walk through a foot bath, just a bleach bath would do it. But I generaly only wash tires after coming home from a notorious auction or one where I've seen to many animals that raised red flags. Good luck with your project and get ready to eat sleep and breath sheep.
  5. Taylor

    Taylor Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    1) Going from a dozen to 150 is going to take some doing, i/e lots of feeders, water troughs, mineral/salt feeders, many more hours of worming, foot trimming, and tagging, fencing, to say nothing of the time needed at lambing.
    2) Check with your state veterinarian. Most states now have the notorious "voluntary" scrapie eradication program in place, requiring annual vet inspections (ours is July) on each farm that is enrolled in the program. The vets who do the inspections can give you a good idea of farms that are healthy and farms that are definitely not.
    3) Visit a farm first, see all the sheep, check out their housing, etc. Ask to see records - small flocks sometimes aren't so good with paperwork, and inbreeding can and does happen if records aren't kept. Ask to see the lambing records of the sheep you are considering.
    4) with Romneys, you aren't going to have to worry about foot rot, the proper name of the breed is Romney Marsh, and they were bred in the marshy areas of England and selected to be resistant to it. For spinning their wool is great and they seem to be pretty good mothers. The Dorset are great milkers, fat little lambs on that milk.
    5) If you provide good meat, raised in a healthy environment, you'll do well. It will also be possible to develop repeat customers, or sell to restaurants, besides the farm markets.
    6) Find a good processor for your lambs - they are worth their weight in gold.
    Best of luck!