Author Topic: tail docking - or not?  (Read 2208 times)

smudger

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • North Devon/ West Exmoor
tail docking - or not?
« on: February 05, 2012, 12:19:11 pm »
I'd already decided I am not going to castrate our ram lamb but I was going to dock their tails on basis that the flystrike risk outweighed the pain issue with tail docking. I have left it to the last day (put it off?) and if I am going to do it, I need to dock before 10am tomorrow for the ewe lamb (the one who was poorly as per my posting earlier this week). However, now having second thoughts.

I couldn't find anything posted before when I searched on forum, so apologies if it has been discussed before.

I came across this on web search:
http://www.fawc.org.uk/pdf/report-080630.pdf

Quote: Before considering the welfare implications of the various methods used to castrate and
tail dock lambs, we should like to reiterate our previous comment that, “…at the outset, we
wish to state that all farmers should consider carefully the necessity for performing any
mutilation on sheep and we hope that as many as possible will choose to avoid tail docking
and castration”.
.

The lambs are Greyface Dartmoors, so woolly. I'm at 900ft on edge of Exmoor. Is it realistic to think I can manage flystrike without docking? Does anyone give pain relief?

Thanks for any advice / opinions.
Traditional and Rare breed livestock -  Golden Guernsey Goats, Blackmoor Flock Shetland and Lleyn Sheep, Pilgrim Geese and Norfolk Black Turkeys. Capallisky Irish Sport Horse Stud.

woollyval

  • Joined Feb 2008
  • Near Bodmin, Cornwall
    • Val Grainger
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2012, 12:41:03 pm »
Having tailed over 1000 sheep I do not think it is cruel, esp if done in first couple of days. Having seen the results of fly strike gone unnoticed under a non muckt but long tail (not one of mine) I think a moments discomfort far outweighs the awfulness of strike!

You may be in a good place to avoid strike but we are 900ft up on the Blackdowns ...probably facing you....and we would not risk it....

If my sheep were up on the high moor most of the time I might think differently as they would need their tails and flies are not usually a problem!
www.smallholdinginsomerset.blogspot.com
www.valgrainger.co.uk

Overall winner of the Devon Environmental Business Awards 2009

mmu

  • Joined Aug 2011
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2012, 01:30:29 pm »
definitely dock, but not too short. after 30 years, i've never known a lamb take any notice of tail docking, unless you trap a nerve. if that happens clip, or cut the ring off with a craft knife and after giving it a while to recover, start again.
We keep Ryelands, Southdowns, Oxford Downs, Herdwicks, Soay, Lleyn, an Exmoor pony and Shetland geese.  Find us on Twitter as @RareBreedsScot

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2012, 02:50:59 pm »
I docked my Roughs, the length to their hocks when they were lambs. This gave them the warmth of a tail in winter, but not the filthy wool that attracts flies, as they can hold that length of tail up and out of the way when necessary. I would always do it, but not too short. To be honest, beyond the first 'oww, what have you done to my tail', it doesn't seem to bother them.

Hazelwood Flock

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Dorset.
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2012, 11:02:05 pm »
I dock all my GFDs, but leave the ram lambs entire. I tend to dock the males slightly shorter than the females, whilst still preserving legal modesty! If done whilst ewes and lambs are still penned up together, you can keep them in whilst the lamb recovers from the discomfort.
Not every day is baaaaaad!
Pedigree Greyface Dartmoor sheep.

Remy

  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2012, 09:36:28 am »
I dock all of mine (apart from the ones who shouldn't docked) as I've lost a lamb to flystrike and have had to treat many other severely affected ones, including my pony - who's tail I had to totally shave off as the maggots had eaten  his entire dock  :P, I have never seen so many maggots in one place it was horrendous!  Docking tails if done properly isn't a risk to life like flystrike is.  The thing with leaving tails long, if the sheep has scours on growing grass it will attract the flies and the area under the dock is a perfect breeding ground for them.

I dock to about three fingers' length.
2 horses, 4 ponies, 6 dogs, 1 cat, 2 Kune Kunes, 34 sheep (various)

smudger

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • North Devon/ West Exmoor
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2012, 10:55:00 am »
Thanks for the comments. Deed is done and as much as I have provaricated and waivered and put it off (much to husband's annoyance), I have to say the act of doing it (ie picking them up and holding them and releasing the ring) seem to cause more distress than the period afterwards. I have erred on the longer length, probably 1-1.5" below the triangle flap.

I was surprised that no one responded to say they don't dock.....
Traditional and Rare breed livestock -  Golden Guernsey Goats, Blackmoor Flock Shetland and Lleyn Sheep, Pilgrim Geese and Norfolk Black Turkeys. Capallisky Irish Sport Horse Stud.

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2012, 11:19:42 am »
Well done.

Like everyone else here, we dock. We don't castrate though. TBH, it doesn't seem to distress them unduly and, as everyone else said, it's a lesser evil than fly strike (although the two cases of strike we've had weren't in the tail region ::)).

I do hate to see sheep docked too short though. Saw a few at shows last year that were probably illegal.

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2012, 12:19:04 pm »
Agree,think you have done the right thing. These things are not absolutes, docking right or wrong without considering the context of the reason why it is done - it is about the balance of risk of something much worse against the small discomfort now. In some locations, where flies are not too much of an issue, there is a case for not docking.

But having seen a sheep be fine one day and almost dead the next from fly strike, I am in favour of docking long tailed sheep. The only proviso is I do worry whether docking may discourage efforts going into breeding out long tails but thats a wider macro question.

Bramblecot

  • Joined Jul 2008
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2012, 12:25:12 pm »
Right choice.  Both you and your sheep will be grateful next summer when they do not have dirty long tails.  I made the mistake with my first GFD's of docking too long ( I was nervy) and now they are a devil to keep clean and safe from from fly strike.  The hair grows so long beyond the tail: I am forever trimming it away.  If the lamb is strong, then I would do it asap as it seems to affect them less.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2012, 12:29:05 pm »
Interesting !

Those of us who keep rare breeds do so because one day their genetics will be useful to mainstream breeds.  This is one of the obvious ones - many rare breeds belong to the Northern Shorttailed group, which have naturally short tails.  So it needs some enterprising breeder to produce a sheep with the short tail of the NST, but the commercial qualities needed for fat lambs.    :sheep: :sheep:

With an increasing public interest in animal welfare to produce sheep which have short tails without needing to be docked surely must be a winner.  A good candidate for gene transfer ?

We don't dock tails - because we don't have to  :thumbsup:
www.scothebs.co.uk

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus

Tilly

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • "Possibilities and miracles mean the same thing"
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2012, 12:50:17 pm »

Hi Smudger  :wave:

Well done for "doing the deed" I am sure the Dartmoors will thank you during the summer months when the flies are about.
I have been docking tails too this morning.
Your post --- Gives me an excuse for posting a picture  a Greyface Dartmoor lamb !!!! ::)

They are such fun sheep  ;) ;D

Tilly  :wave:

smudger

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • North Devon/ West Exmoor
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2012, 12:58:50 pm »
Yes must post some of ours. I did miss one fab picture (probably never to be repeated) of the ewe lamb climbing onto mum and standing on her back to nibble at the hayrack!
Traditional and Rare breed livestock -  Golden Guernsey Goats, Blackmoor Flock Shetland and Lleyn Sheep, Pilgrim Geese and Norfolk Black Turkeys. Capallisky Irish Sport Horse Stud.

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2012, 02:41:09 pm »
What a beautiful lamb  :love:

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: tail docking - or not?
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2012, 06:37:42 pm »
I dont dock. I cull ewes with runny bums/dont keep replacements from them. Worm resistance is genetic. Having said that, I have shedding sheep which are less prone to flystrike.

 

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