What does it mean that a sheep has a poopy bottom? I will admit to having little experience with sheep, but I was at a local farm/petting zoo that had sheep, and the lambs all had their tails coated in poop. I figured it was just how lambs were--all the sheep looked a little bedraggled, but they didn't have that much room and only one paddock, so there was probably a lot of poop on the ground, too.
Does having a poopy tale indicate unhealthy sheep, or maybe just diarrhea related to food consumed? The same farm/petting zoo had WAY too many chickens for their enclosure, and there were many that were way too henpecked, so it wouldn't surprise me that the sheep might have been unhealthy, too. There were at least four adult sheep and 4 lambs on a plot that was probably 4,000 sqft, if that...
I get this generally...but not always...when the lambs go from bottle fed, or tube feeding then go back to their mother. It does not happen a lot, maybe 1 out of 20 lambs, but it sure sucks dealing with it. I got a strong stomach but even for my wife and I...it is one of the worst tasks on a sheep farm to deal with.
I do assume though that you dock tails, and are talking about lambs and not ewes?
it can cause a really nasty death because it attracts flies who lay their maggots in the poop and start eating the inside of the sheep.
Cotswold are supposedly sensitive to nitrogen and high moisture grass. I wonder if that's causing it. Good idea moving them back to the old pasture. It will help you get an idea if it's environmental or something more serious.
Wool sheep are normally docked and the wool sheared off around the tail to prevent feces from fouling around their anus. But wool sheep are an artificially selected animal with hair that grows continuously and doesn't shed, making for a nasty sanitation environment requiring further human intervention to remedy the situation. Hair sheep don't need to be docked since the hair around their tail resembles that of their wild ancestors. Hair sheep will typically waggle their tail as they defecate to encourage the feces pellets to drop off cleanly so I don't like to dock them to deprive them of their "wiper".
Hair sheep are okay. The ones I kept were more prone to disease and diet than any woolly sheep I've had. They are the only sheep I've had to give antibiotics and regular wormer. For me, the primary value in the sheep is the wool. Lambs and meat sales are just there to cover basic costs with our local meat prices being so low.
Docking... hm, I have a lot to say on the topic. It is probably going to drive this conversation in the wrong direction. Trying to keep it on topic.
Docking does more good than harm. It doesn't mean I like it, but I do it for breeds that need it because the alternative is horrific. That said, not every sheep needs to be docked. Many of the older breeds don't need docking, like Black Welsh Mountain, Icelandic, Shetlands, basically the Finn descendants. They either have short tails, non-woolly legs, or have the good sense to lift up their tails high enough to do their business. They are also less sensitive to changes in diet so less likely to get scours. I'm guessing that some of Ray's flock might be this kind of sheep. Maybe that's why they aren't showing symptoms.