Whats your take on Short Tails-No Tails?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by ONThorsegirl, May 6, 2006.

  1. ONThorsegirl

    ONThorsegirl Fergusons Family Farm

    Messages:
    1,326
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern Ontario
    I was wondering what everyone thinks about the whole idea of docking the tails really short, or perhaps getting rid of the whole tail. Whats your reasoning behind what you do?

    We dock our guys tails so that thri whole bum is covered, nothing can be seen from looking at the back. We do show but the tails stay this length, no matter their use. This is what we do. I will post a couple pictures of one of our lambs, it isn't that great but you can kinda see his length. Some are a little shorter than his though just depends on the conformation of the lamb. this lamb is standing kinda funny in both of these pictures, he stands fine when I'm not taking pictures of him.

    http://ca.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/maplelanefarms_ont/detail?.dir=42a1re2&.dnm=b753re2.jpg&.src=ph

    http://ca.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/maplelanefarms_ont/detail?.dir=42a1re2&.dnm=7c6bre2.jpg&.src=ph

    Melissa
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    13,086
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    Ontario
    I wouldn't want to see it any shorter. It looks fine as is. I've docked longer for sure and I think I will make it a practise to add in one more joint. You likely can't and still win at any shows.
     

  3. mawalla

    mawalla Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    953
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2002
    Location:
    AR
    Having seen too many rectal and cervical prolapses at the vet clinic where I work I go for a long tail dock or no dock at all.
     
  4. ONThorsegirl

    ONThorsegirl Fergusons Family Farm

    Messages:
    1,326
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern Ontario
    Sorry Ross what did you mean by that? I guess I don't have my full brain working today.

    We have seen rectal and cervical prolapses too, this being in the show ring and its heart breaking when a 8 month old ewe lamb comes in and every time she blats or coughs, she prolapses her rectal a little bit.

    Melissa
     
  5. backachersfarm

    backachersfarm Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    338
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Location:
    Tn
    We leave our lambs tails a little long. I just hate seeing lambs with no tails...knowing what it will mean to them in the future. Why in the world the show ring insists on this when they of all people know it isn't healthy is way beyond me. This is the reason we have nothing to do with showing of any of our animals...and don't sell them for showing.

    Sharon
     
  6. Sprout

    Sprout Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    281
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2005
    Location:
    The Sunny Okie transplant ground of Californie
    All the animals in my flock have no tails, I have never had a problem with prolapses. Most of my lambs are destined for the show ring and long tails are very much frowned upon. Some of you may screech but I have never ever had a problem with prolapes. Local genetics have fiercley selected against prolapses any lamb that prolapses is not saved and if it becomes chronic in a ewe or lamb they are moved down the line. I find that their rears stay much cleaner and I have never had a problem with flystrike, which can be murder here.
     
  7. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,802
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2004
    Location:
    Kansas
    I usually leave two fingers-widths on my lamb's tails...

    I have a real problem with many aspects of exhibition as it seems that exhibitions generally aren't geared towards bettering the breed, but making the breed look pretty without any actual substance. You see this in the poultry world with Muscovy who have so much caruncling that they can't see or breathe well, call ducks that can't hatch naturally because of their short bills, border collies that can't herd, suffolks that try to die unless they're being coddled and fed grain, etc. I think you have to be choosy about the type of exhibition you participate in, dog trials, increasingly popular, are wonderful opportunities to see dogs doing what they were meant to do. The same needs to be done for other animals, require more of them beyond a long-leggy body, let's see how they actually perform in real life situations.
     
  8. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,844
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2004
    Location:
    New Zealand
    I have 3 sheep with long tails. All are ewes and the problem isn't so much dags but urine. As the wool gets longer, the problem gets worse and if not given preventative treatment, they will all get bad fly strike.

    The rest of the flock are all docked and sufficient tail remain to cover the vulva in ewes and the anus in wethers/rams. Over here that is supposed to be a legal requirement although many farmers take them off shorter than that as it makes them easier to shear.

    I too had never seen - or heard of - prolapses caused by docked tails. The only sheep I have ever seen with prolapsed anything have been ewes and that has been caused because of either a genetic problem or being too fat.

    Catherine, I was interested to read your comments on showing animals, particularly the bit on border collies. There is growing concern over here that the townies are wrecking the border collie because they have decided they are the "in" dog to keep and their working ability is being bred out of them. The border collie is the basis of our heading dogs and every sheep farmer has a heading dog (I have two) and the fear is that the pool of working dogs is being diminished.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  9. ONThorsegirl

    ONThorsegirl Fergusons Family Farm

    Messages:
    1,326
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern Ontario
    Short Tails are frowned upon by many people here in Canada. If you are shwoing in 4-H the tails have to cover the Vulva and Rectum. And it doesn't matter the length of tail in our shows. We showed in a regional show last year and our lambs had small tails, some had no tails, some had longer tails and all placed evenly throughout the placings.

    I guess its a personal preference!

    Melissa
     
  10. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,108
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Location:
    Washington State
    Locally, there is a big push in 4-H to keep the tails a bit longer. Perhaps a bit shorter than you've shown there, but at least leaving that bit of skin (golly, what's it called?) A 'liftable tail' is what they've termed the length. Of course, now people are saying 'I can lift the tail', and others think the sheep ought to be able to lift it on it's own...

    I think my girls are a bit on the long side, this year, but I'd rather they look a little long (like your's) than not have one at all. This pic shows a naturally short tailed ewe from the back side; a few of the girls are a wee bit shorter. IMO, that's where nature does it, and should be our goal as well.

    http://kesoaps.com/pics/wrf_nursing.JPG
     
  11. Sprout

    Sprout Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    281
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2005
    Location:
    The Sunny Okie transplant ground of Californie
    I don't know what kind of talk you've been fed about the show circuit but these sheep in our rings are tough, muscley buggers. They are born on ranges with coyotes. None of these sheep look "pretty". Their siblings that don't make the cut for show are raised out on the range like any other sheep. All of my ewes are ex show lambs. This year I had nothing but 9 and 10 pound births. Never have to pull a lamb, never have to put in a ewe spoon. One of my girls had 9, 9 and 10 triplets. Now you tell me how big your lambs were and lets see whose trying to die.
     
  12. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,802
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2004
    Location:
    Kansas
    Sprout kudos to you for your wonderful success however, I've had a suffolk ram and his son, both of which nearly died on my place because I don't coddle them and they actually had to graze pasture all summer long...did they? Not really! They'd as soon hide out all day and try to die. I bought two suffolk ewes at auction soon after I raised my lambs on the bottle and they were such trouble I took them back to auction the very next week. This isn't 'talk' that I'm being fed, this is things I have witnessed with my own two eyes. My cousins were all very involved in 4H and showing during our childhood, and I spent every summer at the fair helping them and watching them and others and know what I witnessed throughout my childhood/teens.

    The friend of mine that has run sheep since before I was born uses registered suffolk rams in his program, and there isn't a suffolk on his place that doesn't end up looking like they're half dead by the time they've been worked their first season. Granted, his management style often leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion, but these are flocks that have had summer grasses and are grazed on wheat during the winter and are fed alfalfa. The lambs that are from his suffolk rams all go to slaughter, and they're all put in a feedlot when they're weaned and are fed hay & grain until they're trucked out.

    So, are you trying to tell me that the sheep that you show are actually raised on pasture and then dressed up for show, or are they fed a handsome amount of grain and kept seperate from those who 'don't make the cut' and coddled? I just about guarantee that those who 'make the cut' and those who 'don't make the cut' aren't managed the same way.

    Additionally, how many border collies that are shown in the ring actually ever see a live sheep? How many can actually work them?

    How many goldens that are shown in the ring can actually retrieve? Okay, let's take that a step further and say how many can retrieve a bird in the field? I'm sure plenty can retrieve balls and newspapers and chew toys.

    How many Pyrenees that are shown in the ring actually spend a minute in the pasture guarding livestock?

    How many call ducks that are shown hatched from their shell without human intervention?

    There are plenty of people with opinions similar to mine, and it isn't from people who don't know a thing about most shows, it's from people who have been there and have competed.

    Incidentally that's the last I'll say on this thread as I don't want to hijack ONTHG's thread.
     
  13. elgordo

    elgordo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    230
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Location:
    oregon
    I have raised Barbadous and Katahdin hair sheep and have never needed to worry about docking tails. They stay pretty clean! I don't know if it's a requirement for showing though...
     
  14. heritagefarmer

    heritagefarmer Belties are Best!

    Messages:
    85
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
    Location:
    Prince Edward Island
    We recently took on some rare horned dorsets, and the ewes are a disgrace!
    They have NO tails whatsoever. If this done for the show ring, then count me out.
    They are a pain to shear because they won't sit still. Would you if your
    parts were exposed? They had to be sheared standing up.
    This years lambs were docked by us and we left enough tail to cover thier bits. Far better all round I think.

    BELTIES ARE BEST
    http://dundasheritagefarm.com
     
  15. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    15,981
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Michigan's thumb
    I've never docked tails. I have two sheep that came with tails, and 8 adults with tails and have never had fly strike.
     
  16. Sprout

    Sprout Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    281
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2005
    Location:
    The Sunny Okie transplant ground of Californie
    Sorry I blew up a bit but I take pride in my flocks standings at the shows, and thier ability to produce. Of course my show lambs are fed grain and not allowed on pasture but that's not because they can't survive and reach a nice market weight and carcass size. In fact all of my suffolks that don't make the cut are returned to the pasture with thier mothers after weaning. Show animals must be accustomed to alot more than your market lamb and trying to catch them in a pasture every day is out of the question. Also being out in pasture wrinkles thier coat and lessens thier back muscle build. It is a manipulative process but would you expect a show horse to compete without any extra sustinace for his work. A show lamb is not any less able to convert feed to meat, in fact they are more able they are the peak of what you want in a lamb. Many of these sheep I've seen at shows could have been excelent rams, and the ewes end up as breeders and quite succesfull ones. Apparantly showing environments differ greatly across the rockies.
     
  17. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    360
    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2004
    Location:
    Illinois
    Ditto this! I bought some babydoll southdowns about 3 years ago that had been short-docked. The poor girls got sunburn on their girl parts, and had no way of keeping the flies off down there. I felt very sorry for them. We long-docked the lambs, enough to cover the sensitive areas, and I thought that looked much better.
    Now we raise shetlands and don't have to dock at all.
    Some breeds are going to "no show" rules, just so their beloved breed's arn't negatively altered by show ring sillliness.
     
  18. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

    Messages:
    3,230
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2006
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    I am getting hair sheep-- no docking, no shearing. No way to show them, from what I understand-- as the lambs are "too small"- but I will probably take one or two to a fair this fall, to see if interest can be generated in the breed. I agree with the statement above about shows ruiniong a breed== of any animnal. i have witnessed so much decay in dogs over the last 30 years, that I refuse to enter mine in conformation events. they are only trained and enetered in performance events-- who cares if a dog has "too much white" Can it do the job for which it was originally intended? When the AKC recognized JRTs, their legs got straightened, the ears had to be just so, blah ,balah, blah,.. Whe American Eskimo became refine-- the coat was changed to make it "fluff" better-- they look like white poms now! The Border Collie lost it's distinctive movement, and so may now have dark eyes-- removes the :"look" they need to have in order to function properly. When the border collie lost its movement-- low, slinking on the ground, it loses the ability to run across the backs of a tightly packed flock. It makes abetter target for a cow kick, as well....
    If you must dock a tail measure it against the rear leg-- that joint above the hock point is a nice length-- keeps things covered, and gives them something to wag behind them as they come home..

    Terry
     
  19. punksheepshower

    punksheepshower LiveLongLaughLotsPlayHard

    Messages:
    118
    Joined:
    May 26, 2005
    Location:
    Texas
    there are no tails left on our lambs. its extremley looked down upon in the showring, and the genetic tendency for lambs to prolapse has tried very hard to get selectivly bred out.
    if any animal shows a small prolapse, and its used for breeding purposes, you can garuntee it WILL NOT be there for the next breeding season.
    the lambs bums also stay much, much cleaner and there is less risk for infection when there is no tail...in my opinion.
     
  20. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,108
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Location:
    Washington State
    Steph, you may find they begin changing that in 4-H...it tends to be a move that is sweeping from area to area. I'm not really convinced it keeps the backside that much cleaner, to tell the truth. I suppose from time to time, but overall my girls are pretty clean and require minimal care when it comes to clean up for the kids to head into the ring.

    Of course, I've got a few of those naturally short tailed sheep here, no worries with docking. And now that eieiomom seems to have suckered me in, I'll probably end up with one or even two of those rat tailed critters of hers (they do still have their tails, don't they?)