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Tough decision. Is it worth it to save a sheeps life?

 
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Dana Jones wrote:I have to agree with @Cynthia Quilici these photos are important and educational. We learn from others successes and failures. I am a sheep newbie also and would be devastated if they all died from bloat. Finding out what caused it could be a big help to me and others. With livestock-you get dead stock. It stinks, but it happens.



Well that is just it, they say on average for every person who participates in forums such as this, there are 99 that view the conversation so I always try to be informative so that others...even if they are coming along on an internet search and find the topic they are looking for might learn from it. I am sorry about the pictures, I never gave it a thought as to be disturbing because they were dead, but not mutilated in any way. I grew up on a farm so I am accustomed to it. But then there was an animal rights ad on television for awhile that showed the "horrors" of a loader moving a dead cow carcass around and I am thinking to myself, "how else are you going to move a 2000 pound dead animal out of the barn?"

I also try to explain the successes of my farm, as well as the bad. Over the years I have learned it is often what people leave OUT and not what they include that makes or breaks a certain type of system. It really is too bad they cut the entire response because it had a lot of good content; there is something truly important at times like these to stay with the overall farm plan and not be discouraged by bumps in the road. I have great respect for the original poster because they obviously are well researched on sheep and I am sure they carefully chose their breed, I would hate to see an emotional decision change trajectories negatively. Sheep overall are pretty hardy so changing breeds for health reasons is not as important as changing them for market reasons.

In my case I lost 17 of my sheep though I had many more, simply because of laziness. I rotationally graze here with a grazing plan by the USDA and all that, but I was having the sheep shearer come over so I inevitably left them on the pasture by the barn a little longer than I should and so they grazed it down pretty good, then when we sheared them, I put them on a new pasture. A good practice for shearing is not to give them food or water the night before shearing to make things better for the sheep and shearer, which also made them more hungry then they already were. Another good practice is to send them to a new field since they just got their hooves trimmed and are dewormed, so a new pasture is required. Once they got on that new, succulent pasture they just ate and ate which contributed to the bloat that killed them. The pictures had merit because you could see all this from their scoring size, as well as how much they consumed from the contrast of grass on the inside, and outside of the fence.

In any case I could have done several things different.

1) I could have given supplemental hay in the field by the barn, however after having early Spring grass, getting a sheep to go back to hay is problematic
2) I could have introduced the sheep to a field that had more sward in it
3) I could have kept them down by the barn, sheared them as I did, but instead of letting them have full access to the new succulent pasture, just let them graze for a few hours before driving them off it
4) Had a better barn that would have allowed winter shearing

The first three control methods would have worked to some degree. Number two and three is risky because it would have contaminated their hooves with bacteria and their stomachs with worms from being on previously grazed fields however. Still, in hind sight that would have been better than losing 17 breeding stock ewes. Number four is what I do now to eliminate the whole problem.

As a side note: another place I have gone wrong is to try to skimp on fencing. Rotational grazing is truly a wonderful tool, but keeping hungry and determined sheep from overeating a succulent pasture after only a few hours takes incredibly robust fences. I too have learned that the hard way. Page wire fence is almost a necessity!
 
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R Ranson, several times you've mentioned the desire for a good way to find a "good vet". So, let me point out some ways that we have used to weed out undesirable ones.

First thing we do is go in and ask about their methodology, do they treat the symptom or search for what caused the problem. Many vets are like MD's they come out of school thinking that if they treat the symptom the issue is resolved, this is a red flag for us.
Second thing we do is pay the vet for his time to sit down for a visit, this can bring out lots of details about how the vet approaches their practice.
Word of mouth is very reliable so the more farmers you talk to that have the same animals as you the better. Many times you can find the right fit just by this approach.

From what you have said about the current vet you use, you have found a very good fit, any vet that offers advice on animal care is a really good vet. Most will not do that, when we find a vet like yours (ours is the same) we consider it a keeper situation.

If you don't now, start watching Dr. Pol, he is an old school vet who is still in practice, works with all farm animals as well as pet animals. This show is where we developed our method of finding the right vet for us, we wanted a vet that held the views we saw being used.
He has been known to answer written questions too.

If you don't have them, get some arm gloves for use when you are stuffing a prolapse back in or doing a kid check, these really help both you and the animal by friction reduction and you don't have to scrub up before going in, think of surgical gloves as they serve the same purposes.

Keep us up to date on your ewe.
 
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Travis,
Thumbs up on your very detailed and experience based posts. They are great reads. Sorry I freaked about the photos, they caught me off guard. I've never had to deal with multiple deaths of any kind so I tried to put myself in your place. What a tragedy to deal with. Even with a single death I am very ritualistic. I have to wrap and decorate the body and do a "proper" graveside service. I know I'm strange.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Travis, I have learned quite a bit from your postings in this thread, thank you for your insights.

We currently breed and raise Guinea Hogs but have been contemplating the adding of a few sheep, ours would be for wool production mostly.

Having been raised with cattle, I really don't see myself going in that direction with our small homestead farm but we have enough room to add goats or sheep.

You can revise your first post (with the photos) so they are links, instead of them just being out there for all to see, and then it will be opened for people to benefit from your knowledge that you shared in that post.

Like you, I don't have a problem with them, but I can see where the concern of others comes from.

Pilamayaye kola

Redhawk

 
Travis Johnson
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I just took the photos out of that reply completely and hopefully the post will reappear. In all honesty, 17 sheep was devastating for me personally as I have a lot invested in my sheep farm, but one year on the big dairy farm we lost 100 head of heifers due to chopping silage in the rain...yep bloat again. And once our broilers got some disease and we buried 75,000 of them...and entire chicken barn full. Thankfully it does not happen often though.

But please don't read all that as not caring. Even with a sick lamb that dies, I get glum. I find this occurs on any size farm, but then again what farmer worth his muck boots wouldn't get glum at a death? Its our next generation, its our future, and as we all know a farmers future is at least 7 years out...



 
Bryant RedHawk
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Travis, I know you are a very caring soul, and I did not mean anything to sound otherwise.

Like you, I know things happen in farming, especially when animals are involved and it is as bad as loosing a pet, maybe even more so since they are also money makers for folks like us.

When I was a child living on my grandparents dairy farm we lost 10 of 25 head one year.
Three died in calving and we weren't able to save one calf from those three.
It was a hard blow all the way around, no one wasn't sad to the point of tears, but we move on because that's what you have to do.

When I was with the USDA I had to go pull carcasses from three chicken barns to determine cause of death, all three of the man's barns were full of the dead.
The farmer was beside himself as to what caused the devastation, he could not bear to go with me and I just told him I could do it alone and not to worry I would find the cause and we would fix it.
That is the circle of life, and we help each other through tough times and rejoice in the good times.
I found the cause and for two days helped him sanitize the houses completely so he could get new chicks and start again.

For folks like you and me losses are tougher than just loosing a crop, not that that isn't devastating as well, it's just easier to recover from in my opinion.

As I said before, I have learned quite a bit from you, and pilamyaye (thank you) for sharing your knowledge, it helps a lot of people. Kola (my friend)

Redhawk
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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What's the latest on Mini? Any lambs yet?
 
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No lambs yet.

She had us all fooled into thinking she was in labour. The vet, the farmers, everyone. Her behaviour was spot on, her contractions every 12 minutes. But I don't think she is there yet. I can still see the lambs trying to kick their way out her side, so I'm feeling good that we're doing the right thing by waiting. If it wasn't for this thread, I probably would have done the C-section earlier with tragic results. Thank you everyone for your support.

Mini is eating small meals, pooping and peeing. As long as they eat, drink, poop and pee, I'm not so worried.


I'm not sure how to calculate the exact due date for sheep. It's x number of days, but for some sheep breeds, that number is a few days different than the rest. Most sheep pregnancy calculators give a range of days, plus or minus a week. We don't artificially inseminate, and the ewe's in heat for up to three days. There are a lot of factors, and I find it a bit confusing to tell the truth.

We also tried a new thing this year - we kept the ram in with them all summer and winter. One of my shepheard friends do this as it's more natural, so we thought to give it a go this year. Don't know if I would do it again. It certainly has it's advantages in that we don't have to have the ram in another pasture, and we don't have to find him a companion (because sheep should never be alone), and the girls are just calmer with the ram in there. The down side is we don't know the exact days. Mini only went into heat twice that we saw, so her first due date would have been about two weeks ago, and the last time we saw her with the ram would put her due date today, plus or minus a week.

There was something else in this thread I wanted to reply to, but I don't remember what it was and I'm too tired to read back at the moment. Mini had a fairly good night, except from quarter to midnight through to half three. I was up with her, and most of the night listening for her. This human is getting pretty darn tired, but at least I'm having a better time of it than Mini.


Was there any chance of you starting a thread about bloat Travis? I know it's a very sad experience, but I for one would like to learn more about it. I'll leave it up to you, and if it's too sad, than that's okay too.
 
Travis Johnson
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After quiet reflection I realize I owe many of you a huge apology for my posting of my dead sheep. Sometimes I can be prideful and insensitive to others even though I may not realize that I am. I say prideful because I was so engrossed in making my point that I was empathetic to the original posters loss (there is a huge difference between that word and sympathetic) that I did not pay much attention to the great people that make up this community of online, but like-minded people. I upset you with pictures of dead sheep and realize that was not right.

I look at this place just as if it was a general store where we all pull up some feed bags, sit around the rocket stove churning out warmth and just chat. Sometimes people do not have time to say much, so it is a quick chime-in and then they are gone (quick reply) and sometimes it is longer explanations. And just as if we were really at a general store, people might change topics a bit, or get pretty riled up regarding the point they were making. (Thread drift and anger).

Let me assure you I was NEVER angry at any of you. I learned a long time ago to try and look at a disagreement from the other persons point of view and most of the time, they have merit. I do feel it is okay to get upset when they are just being mean or they are being vindictive, but obviously none of that was at play here. No, I have to ask myself, if I was at the local feed store with you would I have hauled dead sheep pictures out of my wallet to make my point that I knew the sadness of dead sheep? Of course not and that is why I am apologizing profusely.

Thank you for reporting me to the moderators on here and making me realize...at first grudgingly, that I was wrong. I will try to show more restraint when posting photos in the future.

I posted this as a private message to someone that dearly deserved it, but after even more reflection, realize I need to apologize to all. In doing so I hope I do not dilute my orginal intention which was bridge-building to the original recipient...they know who they were.

In remorse and sincerity,
Travis Johnson
 
Travis Johnson
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I will try to start a bloat thread tomorrow. Right now is not the right time. Last week I got two teeth pulled and it resulted in dry socket which is excruciating in pain. I hate Vicodin and yet took it because the pain was so bad and even that did not touch it. Thankfully Clove Oil an a Dentist care is working, but I am exhausted from days without sleep, and yes it is the middle of lambing for me as well. I am too exhausted to post anything meaningful I assure you.

As for predicting when a sheep will lamb...I do not say this mockingly, but as a laugh...good luck. Just when I seem to think I have got it figured all out, they surprise me. With wool, it is so hard to tell. AI is almost impossible with sheep, and other then seeing a ram taking a ewe out for diner and a movie, then six hooves on the ground afterward, a pack of Marlboros rolled up in the ewes front shoulder wool, a smouldering Marlboro jammed between her cloven hooves and puffing away, and counting forward 145 days from that moment...I have no idea on how to predict it with any semblance of accuracy. Like you my rams run with the flock.

This is not a cop out, nor any slur...the ruminant aspect of sheep are close to bovines, yet they are so different too. Figuring out when they are going to lamb is one of them, but then all they have to do all day is scheme about how "dumb sheep" are going to outsmart their Sheppard, and they do so...daily!
 
r ranson
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Travis. Thank you for your words. I send kind thoughts towards you. I've lost livestock before, and even though they are food... perhaps especially because they are food... it hurts. I cry buckets. I'm doing everything I can to give them a good life, but there is so much to learn. So many times I wish I could read stories like this before I began keeping livestock. This is why I'm exposing my problems in public. I know it makes me vulnerable , but I hope someone out there can learn something and it can help them care for their own livestock in future. That's why I'm sharing this with you all.

I haven't lost so many at a time as Travis, but I can sympathize with his plight. I feel he has a lot of experience and can teach us many useful lessons. People were caught off guard with the photos, but please don't be discouraged. We would love to learn from you Travis.



Mini is calm for several hours at a time now... compared to her 12 minutes of calm from a few days back. I think... and this is just intuition here. I think that her big problem is that her prolapse makes it hard for her to pee. I massage the prolapse back in, she sprays urine everywhere an up my arm and it's really disgusting. But she feels better for it, so I put up with it and tell her what a good girl she is. She's gotten so that she doesn't try to walk away from my arm up her... um, lamb hole. Instead she leans into it. It might be something to do with the KY jelly I bought from the farm-a-cy (pharmacy). Yes, I did say it loud and proud, "do you have any lubricant I can use to pop the vulva back into a prolapsed ewe". The shocked looks of the people waiting in line behind me made my day.

It took more doing than I like, but we finally got in touch with the people who supply the sheep equipment here. The Ewe Spoon is being shipped super quick and may be here by tomorrow morning... except that they were having trouble with their shipping service, so it may be the next day, or if it went Canada Post, the day after that. Sure, we live 8 minutes from the main sorting office, but we are considered to be out of the way rural customers, so next day shipping usually takes 5 business days. We'll see what happens.
 
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I will try to show more restraint when posting photos in the future.



Travis, It really was just the surprise element of the pics in this thread that hit me.....I was one who was bothered by them and I think it's very generous of you to apologize. I like the idea of another thread with a bit of a warning. ...and for the record, I grew up on a farm, have helped butcher goats and small animals, nursed sick goats who later died, buried ones killed by coyotes and even helped cut up a horse that died giving birth on a neighbors land when we had absolutely no way to move her except by dragging bit by bit. You do what you have to do when dealing with animals in your care.......

 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Travis Johnson wrote: seeing a ram taking a ewe out for diner and a movie, then six hooves on the ground afterward, a pack of Marlboros rolled up in the ewes front shoulder wool, a smouldering Marlboro jammed between her cloven hooves and puffing away



Now there's a vision. Funny! You have quite a talent for writing.
Sorry you've not been feeling great. Dry socket is very painful.


Glad to hear Mini is hanging in there. I hope you both have a good day and that you can find a moment to rest.
I know this is not really the place to ask but... how's Larry. I've been thinking of him too.
 
r ranson
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Larry is as happy as Larry.

After the vet visit and the first shot, he started to perk up again. Now he's back to normal be behaviour, and loving the extra grain ration he's being given as per doctors orders. He's stronger than me now, so he gets a great big bucket of grain while I try to hold him and have someone else give him the antibiotics. One more shot left.

I've been putting him in with mini for an hour or two a day to keep her company and to clean up all the foods she didn't want to eat. She likes the company, but she likes it to be over too. Larry is really good with her, gives her space when she wants it, but cuddles when she asks for it. That's what he's for, a companion animal.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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I think I'd like to be reincarnated as one of your sheep .
 
r ranson
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Mini had a quiet night from 10 to about 3:30 am. A few things have changed during that time. I don't know if there will be the patter of little hooves tomorrow or if we'll be digging a hole in the ground.

Her lamb hole has changed shape, more baggy but it's easier for her to get her prolapse back in on her own. There is also more blood coming from her lamb hole than before. It's quite a bit warmer in there too. Her body shape changed so that the belly is lower and there is a hollow around her spine... not sure how to describe it. I can't see it, but I can feel it beneath the wool. Her urine stinks, drastic change in the smell... but I think the ram likes it as he's trying desperately to get in there with her.

I put my hand up her lamb hole to feel around. I couldn't even get to her cervix before she pushed me out. She's pushing much stronger now.

All in all, she seems very tired. She's snacking, but not a lot. Poo and pee comes out without my help - for which I am very glad. She drank more water today.

Now I understand about counting sheep. Thank goodness for insomnia.
 
r ranson
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2 lambs and mini still alive

story to come later.
 
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So glad to hear!!!
 
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Hooray!
 
r ranson
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Don't know if it's going to stay that way. One of the lambs is doing very poorly, and Mini suffered a lot of internal strife. But the scary part is over and the harm is done. All we can do is wait and hope and care for them the best we can.
 
r ranson
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Here's what happened. Mini didn't eat any dinner yesterday and no breakfast this morning. We couldn't interest her in anything to eat and she was getting quite weak. I did an internal exam just after mid day and the cervix was much larger than before, I could get three fingers in there. But it hurt her a lot this time to go in there, so I decided it was the last time and we'll have to wait and see. Mini was very weakened by this time.

About 2:30 I noticed Mini laying on her side weirdly and a hoof sticking out her lamb hole. A front hoof! But nothing else. She was too weak to push, so I went in there and found another front hoof, made certain it was attached to the same lamb, and not the hoof of another lamb, and great. Two front hooves! We love that because that means the nose is very close behind. Only, it wasn't. The head was twisted backwards and the lamb couldn't fit through the cervix (which was proper size). The thing to do here is to push the lamb back in as far as we can without loosing it, get the head so the snout is between the legs, then pull it out.

Just about two hours of trying to get the lamb in the right position to come out. It's amazing how much room there is inside her, I was up to my armpit inside a sheep. I never thought in my whole life I would be in a position like that. It's really, really gross. It it's all hot, wet and there are folds of membranes or skin or something that your fingers want to get caught in. So glad I had my nails trimmed really short. Two hours is much too long, and the lamb had stopped kicking after one. We tied a string to the two front legs. I held mini while someone else pulled on the lamb. All our strength and the lamb came out. It was even still alive!

Mini was licking the lamb clean, when she started pushing another lamb out. This one presented properly, with snout and two front hooves. But mini had no strength to push anymore, so I pulled it out. It was quick and slid out just like a lamb should.

Mini is on her feet and caring for her lambs. But her first lamb can't stand properly. I think the damage to the front legs with the pulling and pushing was just too much. I got some (starts with C--- first milk) and put it in the first lamb's mouth. Then I got it to the nippel to have a drink. It took a few sips, but not a lot. The second lamb is doing just fine.

Mini is doing well and her second lamb (a boy) is exactly as expected. The only worry now is with Mini having an infection or if I damaged her lamb sack and she bleeds to death. There isn't much blood coming out her lamb hole, so I have hopes that this won't happen.

The little girl lamb, the first one to come out, may not last the night.
 
r ranson
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Now I have another ewe that didn't come for dinner. She was receiving ram attention at the same time as mini.
 
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How is every one today??? Including you.
 
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Kris schulenburg wrote:How is every one today??? Including you.



Mini's ewe lamb died a few minutes ago. She showed signs of spinal cord damage as well as not being able to use her legs correctly. Her digestion shut down overnight, so we gave her hugs and while we were sharpening the knife (with tears in our eyes) to stop her pain, she shuddered and stopped breathing. In my arms. I'm feeling numb and will probably feel very sad later.

Since the end was from 'wounds received' (the physical trauma of being born), I'll be taking the first steps in making rennet later today. Never made it before, but I don't like the idea of the animal just becoming compost. For me, it's a way to honour the life to use the physical materials that were her. It's not a popular opinion, I know, and I'm far too sad to do what's needed to eat the rest of her. But at least I can make rennet.

Mini is doing poorly too. She eats a bit, poops and pees, but on the whole she just lies there miserable. Her other lamb is lively, but not as lively as I would like. I'm trying to supplement his milk with some goat milk in a bottle, so that there are less demands on mini. So far he says the goat milk tastes weird.
 
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So sorry. You are very brave and kind to do the right thing. Hope the rest of lambing goes flawlessly. Prayers
 
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I am sorry about the lamb. You are a very strong woman and you did what had to be done. Sometimes in the midst of things going to crap all around you, you wish you could go to pieces, scream and cry and let some one else take over. Only, there is no one else. Mini and her lambs are your responsibility and you stood up to the plate and took care of the situation like a true farmer. Big hugs.
 
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How are Minie and her boy doing?
 
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:How are Minie and her boy doing?



Very slowly on the mend.

Mini is on a strong course of antibiotics because she was smelling infected. It seems to be helping a lot. We are also giving her injections of a vitamin stuff called NewCells, which is really great if the animal is stressed. Once she's finished the antibiotics, I hope to worm her with the stronger wormer. I don't want to do it now because her body has enough to fight. She's eating about 25 percent of what we would expect for her, and she weighs about 75 pounds. She should weigh between 100 and 175, so she's really small. But she hasn't been eating her proper ration for over a month now, so of course she's small.

She's finally shown enough strength today, so we let her out with the flock. This lasted all of 2 minutes when it was very clear that she didn't like the ram mounting her... apparently she still smells in heat/labour, which always makes him want to mount the girls. So now she's out in the main lawn with her little lamb and seems very interested in life.

Mini was drying up for a while, but her milk bags seem to be filling up again. The problem is her little lamb isn't growing. We can see this most when we look at him beside his cousins who were born the day after. He's about 1/3rd the size of his cousins. So we are supplementing his diet with raw goat milk from very healthy goats. It's not as tasty as mummy juice, but he's getting use to it. For a while we thought we would have to take him away from mummy because he was too much of a drain on her, but thankfully things are stabilizing now.

I think there is a very good chance they will be alright.

Now, if only his balls would drop so I can do the nasty with the elasticator. I hate to do it, but I can't have this bloodline continue, and he will be sexually mature well before he has a chance to be eaten.

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Mini had a little lamb
 
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The graphic photos so far have been educational for livestock newbees. I believe that's super important for livestock owners to become aware and educated. I can't recall just how many hundreds of clients I dealt with that hadn't a clue about the realities of animal health and animal disorders. Unknowledgable owners often become unglued, hysterical, fainted, or become violent during a crisis, and can accuse a vet of making things worse or of being negligent......all because they didn't know in advance how things happen and what it looks like. So I don't see a need to apologize for informative photos.
 
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Su Ba wrote:The graphic photos so far have been educational for livestock newbees. I believe that's super important for livestock owners to become aware and educated. I can't recall just how many hundreds of clients I dealt with that hadn't a clue about the realities of animal health and animal disorders. Unknowledgable owners often become unglued, hysterical, fainted, or become violent during a crisis, and can accuse a vet of making things worse or of being negligent......all because they didn't know in advance how things happen and what it looks like. So I don't see a need to apologize for informative photos.



I agree.

When I first researched keeping sheep all the literature made it out to be sunshine and lamb chops. The hard realities of being a shepherd were glossed over.

If I had known what I know now, I would still want to keep sheep, but I would have done more to be prepaired. I feel like I'm always playing catchup and don't have enough time to be proactive about this sort of thing. Next winter I won't be breeding my sheep so I can focus on pasture improvement.
 
Dana Jones
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I am glad that Minnie is doing better. I am sure she is enjoying the extra spoiling of being a yard sheep.
 
r ranson
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Mini found a retirement home earlier this summer.  The new owner is absolutely lovely and has a very calm disposition, exactly what Mini needs in a human.  Mini is with two other, older Suffolk ewes, and is bossing them around nicely.  

Happy ending.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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A happy ending indeed. Way to go Mini! And you didn't do too bad yourself there R.
(P.S. Hey to Larry.)
 
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