• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Sheep AWOL

 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
8 days ago my 6 ewes vanished. I gave them up for dead & then 48 hours passed and I got a phone call, they had walked 2 miles thru the woods (on contour) & I wound up getting the oldest one back. 5 more days passed and I got another phone call. I searched all morning and then they returned to the property they visited Friday night Saturday evening. I was able to get one back. At this rate they'll all be home by Thanksgiving... if their luck holds out!

I did get 3 in this woman's barn but they got spooked and I couldn't close the barn doors. I tried using the shepherd's crook but the only thing that worked was getting them to eat corn right in front of me, then I grabbed a leg and threw a leash on the one & somehow got her in the back of my Subaru!

They will follow grain and a bell - for awhile. The local border collies have died or are unfamiliar with sheep. I'm posting here to see if anyone has any tips for me.

I'm getting the distinct impression they are edge creatures. Hanging out at the forest edge & ducking back in the forest if things get dicey.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 820
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
89
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Funny that you post this now because yesterday I spent most the day tramping the woods looking for my 7 lost sheep. Oh man how I wished my border collie was a young dog again! But she's going on 16 years old and is well past working sheep. So there I was, slow as a snail trying to scare up some sheep. My sheep are bottle raised and will come when called, as long as we are within 200-300 feet of one another. Before I had bottle babies, catching loose sheep without a skilled dog was a matter of luck. So I don't envy you. Another thing I've trained my sheep to expect is slices of bread or a bucket of feed when they come. But if your sheep are not conditioned to that, they won't have the foggiest notion that you have good tasting food in the bucket.

Contrary to what most sheep do, mine don't always flock. So by yesterday evening I had two come for the bucket of feed. They willingly followed me all the way home. This morning a walker alerted us to some loose sheep a half mile away. Yup, it was 4 more of my strays. They came running when I called and happily followed me home. Now I just need to find the lone straggler. I can't imagine why she left the others. I can only assume that she was napping or eating while the others went in some other direction.

I found how they got out. A feral pig pulled up the fence and tore several wires. The barbed wire was a bit too low in that section to discourage the pigs. With that now repaired I hope I won't have anymore break outs.

Outside of a well trained sheep dog, I don't have any other suggestions except notifying people in the area that the sheep are lost. Ask folks to help by trapping them in a pasture, yard, or barn.

As for being edge creatures, I find that mine tend to hang around grassy and brushy areas. I don't find sheep droppings in the dense forest areas around here. My four that travelled went through a grassy abandoned 20 acre farm, down a long grassy access easement, up the road a quarter mile along fenced pastures till they got to the next open grassy area.

Hopefully we'll both find our sheep before Thanksgiving!
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Su Ba wrote:
As for being edge creatures, I find that mine tend to hang around grassy and brushy areas.


Could be breed specific. Mine are Black Welsh Mountain Sheep. As it gets dark they really blend in to the woods! They haven't headed downhill toward pasture but have stay mid-slope amongst the brambles. 8 days in the woods and their condition looks very good, I'll give 'em that.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
15 days missing and they're still alive but I want to kill them!!! I can get within 3 feet of them and that's it.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
18 days on the lamb and finally they've been captured!


Instead of going out to dinner for our 22 wedding anniversary, we shuttled ewes in the back on the Subaru! Now I need to get the ringer leader in the freezer ASAP but the on farm slaughterer I use is booked thru January! I do have an appointment in October but that was supposed to be for a ram.

Well, anyway, this has unexpectedly resolved in the best way.
 
Doug Mac
Posts: 79
Location: Humboldt County, California [9b]
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Eighteen days of no feed bill! You're a genius. jk... I know how frustrating that is. So, are they all going to slaughter or just the ring leader? P.S. they look like nice stock.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 820
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
89
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Congrads on getting the sheep back. As for my own wayward bunch, I rounded up all but one. The pregnant ewe is still missing, but since she is near her due date, I'm hoping she's just in the woods nearby lambing. If so, she should show up shortly.

If the ewe you're planning on slaughtering is for home consumption, have you considered home slaughter? Sheep are very easy to kill and butcher at home.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think the ring leader is the ewe known as Thing 2 and my husband and daughter have been clamoring to slaughter her for 3 years. First she got her head stuck in the chicken feeder. Then, I was reading about the hard time farmers were having during a heat wave in the mid-west and I thought "La di da, here I am sipping iced coffee" when the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. So I went out to check on the animals and Thing 2 was stuck upside down in a wrought iron hay feeder. All four legs were stuck and I realized she must have been stuck like that for 18 hours because she didn't come out to get a snack the evening prior.

The problem is that I don't have enough fenced in land for them ATM. I had been letting them free range during the day for several years but that's not going to fly anymore! I've had no luck with electric fencing. Not sure if the jolt isn't big enough (I'm off grid) or because their wool is thick. The males have horns so the ram lambs kept getting their horns stuck.

At least they all have collars now, makes them easier to catch if needed.

Su, I'm surprised you have a ewe lambing! I though they were still a seasonal animal that lambed January thru maybe July. I do have a cow that likes to calve in the woods.

I can butcher at home, and have done so, but I haven't worked up to killing sheep. I might just get a deer hunter friend to do the killing/dressing for me.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 820
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
89
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The only luck I've had with electric fencing (I'm off grid so I use a solar charger) was to run a hit wire along the inside of a hog mesh fence. It's at about 18"-20" off the ground. The wire keeps them from rubbing their bodies along the fence, thus pushing it out. Hog wire, also called field fencing, keeps them confined but the feral hogs can pull it up. Thus I run a strand of barbed wire at about ground level to discourage that behavior. I tried just electric fencing once, but the sheep broke out regularly. One would get tangled in it somehow and pull the strands down, grounding the fence The ram at that time had horns and would use them to pull the wires down. Once I saved enough cash to buy wire fencing, I made a small pasture to hold the sheep, then expanded the pasture from there, adding more fence as I had the money. A very expensive project! My livestock has to pay their way around here and those sheep still owe me money!!!

Here in the tropics I raise hair sheep. They will breed year around. I get 3 lamb crops every two years.
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Congratulations on getting your sheep back and 22yr anniversary !
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic