Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Soay Wethers  (Read 178 times)

feralsoay

  • Joined Apr 2021
Soay Wethers
« on: May 01, 2021, 07:32:48 am »
 :wave: I'm new to the Accidental Smallholder because I was looking for answers to catching the 4 Soay wethers that have and have gone feral. I have just over 11 acres split into three fields. Four horses as well. Last year one horse suffered serious laminitis walking backwards in pain. Her brother had mild laminitis. They live out all year with a barn they can come and go in when they want.  I wanted to keep the grass short as well as getting rid of the undesirable 'weeds' rather than resort to spraying. The land is on the side of a mountain and has springs galore!

I got four wethers in November. One was the previous years lamb (2 years then) and the other were the lambs from 2020. They were put in a well fenced field and came to bucket for three weeks even though they managed to frequent another of our fields! In December they disappeared to a neighbour above our fields - he keeps cattle and would only fence with three strands of barbed wire and left gaps when he fenced between ours and his. I did try to get them back, but blink and they are gone! Trying to walk on sloped rutted ground and keeping up with the blighters didn't help me either. I gave up.

Then some time after I heard someone clapping their hands and shshshing. Was my neighbour chasing them off their property? A friend put a call out on Facebook to see if they'd been spotted. Not much response, so I went in search again up the lane looking on the fields on other side of it, but couldn't see them. Weeks later I was feeding my horses breakfast at the entrance gate when the nearest neighbour drove his tractor down the lane. Then, I see his son chasing some sheep opposite in their field that looked rather familiar and flapping his arms like he was trying to fly, but not having any success! 'Those are mine!' I shouted across. That was the first sighting for months.

 :rant: Later that neighbour came by and said he'd nearly caught them and they were ruining his fences and drinking his water! I told him flapping arms at them isn't the way and that on my own, without help, I am unable to catch them. My husband is walking disabled and finds uneven ground bad to walk on with the risk of falling. I left that neighbour to think of a way we could catch them, but he hadn't come back to me two weeks later when I had a visit at home from another neighbour on her horse saying that they were visiting her land and would I remove them please? 

In this area they don't seem to use sheepdogs, and farm bikes are a rarity as well. I lived for 30 years about 30 miles away where they use them a lot.  :idea: Near where we lived was a well known sheepdog trainer, so I asked him if he'd come and see if he could find them and take them away. I agreed I'd sign them over to him and he could do what he liked with them. He did come and seriously looked for them but there was no sign of them. There's some dense woodland below that property and his sheepdog had trouble making her way through it. We had to give up, but he advised to put some feed down daily to get them used to coming for feed again. I delivered a bag of feed the next day with an old rubber skip. A week and a text it sent went by. The text was asking how she was getting on. Then I get a response out of the blue that she didn't want them on her land and she wasn't going to encourage them by feeding them. She was worried about her horses having injuries and they were eating her haylage fields. They weren't her responsibility and she wanted them gone. A few texts later and I was speechless because she wasn't helping us catch them, to get them off her property. I got the sheepdog trainer to have a word with her but it seems no result! I have since emailed (on his advice) the local RSPCA, but had no response so far. Since then the neighbour has returned the sheep feed and skip.

They are still at large! I love the breed as they are so hardy and are very nice sheep. It was the worst thing I've done getting them in a long time.

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2021, 09:38:53 pm »
If you post this in the sheep section you will get more replies.


I keep Soay but with yours now roaming a large area I'm struggling to think of a way of locating and then catching them.


Are they venturing back onto your land?


It's difficult because they're not likely to even be that hungry at this time of year.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2021, 10:22:03 pm »
If you know anyone with some tamer sheep, who would be prepared to bring them over to one of your fields which adjoins where the Soays are, they may come across to say hello, and if you can then get your sheepdog handler to come, you may be able to get them all penned up together. 

Failing that, it seems they are causing a lot of grief and it may be best to find someone who could shoot them? 

I don't know where you are, but where I have farmed, it is the responsibility of the livestock owner to fence their animals in, not the responsibility of any neighbours to fence them out.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2021, 11:44:20 pm »
Sally has hit the nail on the head - the only way you will get them is by shooting them dead. It sounds drastic but they will have no knowledge of your land as their home, so they are most unlikely to just turn up one day in your field, and stay there.  Sports huntsmen would be pleased to take on the job, but you could only do it with the total agreement and assistance of your neighbours. Again as Sally says, they are your responsibilty so you can't expect help from your neighbours other than from the goodness of their hearts.  I suggest you meet with them and propose bringing in someone to shoot them (the sheep, not the neighbours  :innocent: ), or asking if one of them has a gun license and is qualified to shoot that size of animal humanely. Perhaps offer the carcases to them as a reward and apology, along with an assurance that you will not put more sheep on. Or spit roast the lot and ask everyone round for a barbie  :yum:


Yes, the fencing around your property is your responsibility in so far as you must maintain it to keep your animals in. Your neighbour will have put in fencing which will contain his animals, but you must add to it as you now have animals which are not contained by three strand wire.  Any sheep are escape artists but Soays particularly so, so were you going to keep them then you would have to examine every inch of fencing for gaps and breakages.
Also, all animals have by law to be cared for, so as you are unable for whatever reason to provide that care then you should not be keeping sheep.  I think you realise that now  :)   Soays are wonderful little sheep (I have three, and have had a larger flock of them in the past) but without good fencing and a good husbandry system, they are not ideal for your purpose.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 11:47:55 pm by Fleecewife »
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the the lifeblood of your land.

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2021, 09:45:14 am »
It's really sad because it's not the fault of the sheep but this is the only thing that I could think of, too. I hoped that others might have a few ideas.


If a kind neighbour could enclose them in a smallish field and you know a good dog handler you could give Sally's idea a go but you are reliant on good neighbours for this to work.


Sad

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2021, 09:58:00 am »
I wouldn't be so much worried about the damage they cause to hay/silage fields - after all 4 wethers won't eat much, but if they get on the road they can cause a serious accident. Even public liability will not cover you if these have been running wild...get them shot asap. Nothing else will do.




Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2021, 12:08:46 pm »
I have tried to think of alternative methods of capturing the sheep, but in the situation you present I really can't think of anything. In our own situations and with the animal husbandry knowledge that I and other TAS members have, we know how we would deal with these sheep, but you are in your own situation and those methods just would not work for you.  I know for a fact that just chasing Soays from place to place will not end in their capture.  Soays can be run down, eventually, as they have a natural tendency to 'go to ground' when they are exhausted, but it doesn't sound as if you have the fitness to do that, and anyway, it's not exactly good for the sheep either.  It sounds as if your neighbours are all fed up with them, and perhaps with you too.  As you realise now, you went into this situation without understanding what you were letting yourself in for, or an understanding of your responsibilities with regards to your livestock and your neighbours.
Soay sheep are notoriously hard to round up - they are simply not like other sheep which flock together; Soays tend to scatter before a dog or flapping humans, as you know.  It's not their fault, it's an innate response to being prey animals.  'Normal' sheep flock together for safety in numbers, Soays scatter and run for the hills.  A sheep dog not used to Soays could be totally confused by their behaviour and unable to cope.
If one of your neighbours was sympathetic then the sheep could be contained with their flock in a field, and brought in at one of their routine gathers, separated out and returned to you, with some financial recompense for their care and feeding of your stock. But would that situation sort the problem?  There is still the fencing you would have to Soay-proof and you would have to have in place some kind of handling system to manage your animals for normal husbandry tasks such as foot trimming/checking, anti-fly strike spraying, possibly worming, roo'ing/shearing and just generally doing health and welfare checks.  It sounds as if you are unequiped for those tasks so are unprepared for the return of the animals.


You say you emailed the RSPCA and have had no result.  Well, phone them and speak to someone who knows what they are on about.  Think beforehand just what help you need which I would think would be for someone who has experience of catching wild animals to catch them then take them into care for their wellbeing (which is the only reason the RSPCA might accept - they certainly wouldn't do it just to return them to you into the same situation).  I detect a bit of an attitude of expecting others to help you, but you must realise that these sheep are totally your responsibility, and act accordingly.  Clearly none of your neighbours has any more of a clue about how to handle Soays than you do, and why would they?  So I think you are down to a choice between getting help for the sheep from the RSPCA, or getting someone to shoot them, as suggested by several of us here.  Giving adequate care to your domestic animals is governed by law, so you can't just abandon them wihout some sort of comeback on you. This is not a situation where you can just let things drift anymore. As Anke has so wisely pointed out, the sheep could wander on the road and be the cause of a fatal accident. You have to make a decision pronto.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2021, 04:50:01 pm by Fleecewife »
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the the lifeblood of your land.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2021, 07:26:12 pm »
As so often happens, this OP has made one post and then (at the time of writing anyway) has not logged back in to read our replies.

Suggest we save our energies for those who are interested in the answers we craft, folks.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2021, 07:59:05 pm »
As so often happens, this OP has made one post and then (at the time of writing anyway) has not logged back in to read our replies.

Suggest we save our energies for those who are interested in the answers we craft, folks.


They probably looked at the replies and decided not to log in and reply anymore  :roflanim:  the replies offering a very sensible option to a problem that could escalate very quickly into a bigger problem if they got on the road.

Scarlet.Dragon

  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2021, 08:09:01 pm »
It sounds like it's not only the Soays that have been neglected and abandoned; the horses have also been suffering if both have laminitis and free access to 11 acres of fertile land.  If the OPs neighbours are reading this thread and know who it is, then a call the DEFRA (regarding the straying/failure to notify transfers between holdings) and to RSPCA (regarding welfare and abandonment issues) would be in order.  l concur with others in terms of either paying someone who knows what they're doing to recover the animals and move them on to someone who will take their welfare seriously or to getting a marksman in to deal with the problem is going to be the best solution all round. 

The OP should seriously consider whether they are a fit and proper person to have any animals point forward as clearly they don't have the animals best interests at heart and aren't willing to ensure their welfare.
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2021, 09:46:46 pm »
Just a thought. I imagine we all started with animals sometime (unless we were lucky enough to be brought up on a farm.) Similarly, I imagine we all made mistakes in the beginning and learnt from them
 and so reached the level of knowledge displayed above. I wouldn't say however that one case of a novice sheep keeper having her sheep get out means that necessarily she shouldn't be keeping sheep. If she'd chosen say Ryelands instead of Soay there wouldn't have been a problem!


The poster obviously didn't realise how semi feral Soays are and they escaped. But she did say that initially they were put in a secure field, and fed there for a few weeks, which was the correct thing to do, and then escaped. But we don't know how. I defy anyone  who has kept animals for any length of time to truthfully declare that they have never had an animal escape. So I think that the judgemental posts   written in reply to someone asking for help were uncalled for and not in any way constructive or helpful. I think she's probably worked out for herself that her fences are inadequate.   :thinking:


I agree that shooting them after this length of time is the only sensible option, and that was constructive advice. But we don't know why she hasn't logged on again. There could be a very good reason, so again we're not in a position to judge. So let's just hope the situation has been resolved.


       Just saying. . . .   
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

Scarlet.Dragon

  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2021, 11:36:25 pm »
I don't think any of us would claim never to have made mistakes.  However, from my perspective, I don't apologise for being judgemental here.  Animals are suffering as a result of this individual's neglect (the horses and sheep and possibly livestock belonging to neighbouring farmers).

I wasn't judgemental of a novice who had animals escape, but rather of someone who appears to have abandoned them... "it was the first sighting in months".  If a commercial farmer didn't check his stock for months this forum would be up in arms about neglectful ways and how appalling the husbandry was, why should that be different just because it's pets being neglected? 

A responsible owner would have researched the animals requirements and traits in advance so they knew what they were taking on and assessed their capability and suitability to deal with it.

A responsible owner would be out looking if they knew the animals were out, they would contain them and sort the fencing once found. 

If a neighbour brought to their attention the location of the animals, they would be there trying to capture them rather than simply dropping off a bag of feed and a bucket and expecting the neighbour to sort it out, or gifting them to the neighbour 'if they could catch them'.

If you suspect a neighbour is trying to chase them off their land, you go find out, you don't get someone else to put up a post on FaceBook!

If you know where they are, you get into the location and put up electric fencing at a distance, you drop feed in the same place at the same time every day within that enclosure, making enough noise of a sort they're used to (if they're bucket trained then that's a good option, if they've previously been used to a quad bike or kids screaming that's also a good way to attract attention).  You gradually reduce the size of the fenced area and/or set up a race... yes it's more difficult with rare breeds that are fleet of foot with Zebedee-like qualities, but it can be done if you have the inclination....and if you don't, you call in specialists - breed society, other keepers, marksmen - whatever it takes.

The fact it's difficult is irrelevant.  Looking after livestock is difficult for all sorts of reasons.  If you can't do it on your own then you either contract someone to help (and pay the going rate) or you get rid of the livestock in question because you're not equipped to manage their welfare.

The original paddock wasn't well fenced!  The OP says they came to the bucket for 3 weeks despite frequenting other fields... that indicates they were never properly secured but the owner didn't address the issue and they gradually strayed further and further.  The OP has failed to prevent the stock leaving the holding but hasn't completed movement certificates (so has broken the law as well as potentially triggering standstills for other parties). 

We don't know the health status of the pets, but they are compromising the biosecurity of other premises and potentially contaminating ground and/or spreading disease.  How would you feel if your stock was affected by someone else's negligence in this way?

The OP clearly knows that 'flapping arms isn't the way' but leaves it to a neighbour to suggest an alternative???

And you want to make excuses for this person?

Sorry, but it doesn't cut ice for me!  This is wilful neglect of sentient beings as well as bad neighbourly behaviour.

Having 2 laminitic horses, one of whom is walking backwards in pain, also suggests significant neglect as laminitis is usually visible for a good while before it gets to that stage.  There are rare exceptions but it sounds from the description as though the issue here is to do with over-feeding.
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2021, 12:36:25 am »
So very well put Scarlet Dragon, and right on the nail.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the the lifeblood of your land.

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2021, 11:26:11 pm »
I don't think any of us would claim never to have made mistakes.  However, from my perspective, I don't apologise for being judgemental here.  Animals are suffering as a result of this individual's neglect (the horses and sheep and possibly livestock belonging to neighbouring farmers).

I wasn't judgemental of a novice who had animals escape, but rather of someone who appears to have abandoned them... "it was the first sighting in months".  If a commercial farmer didn't check his stock for months this forum would be up in arms about neglectful ways and how appalling the husbandry was, why should that be different just because it's pets being neglected? 

A responsible owner would have researched the animals requirements and traits in advance so they knew what they were taking on and assessed their capability and suitability to deal with it.

A responsible owner would be out looking if they knew the animals were out, they would contain them and sort the fencing once found. 

If a neighbour brought to their attention the location of the animals, they would be there trying to capture them rather than simply dropping off a bag of feed and a bucket and expecting the neighbour to sort it out, or gifting them to the neighbour 'if they could catch them'.

If you suspect a neighbour is trying to chase them off their land, you go find out, you don't get someone else to put up a post on FaceBook!

If you know where they are, you get into the location and put up electric fencing at a distance, you drop feed in the same place at the same time every day within that enclosure, making enough noise of a sort they're used to (if they're bucket trained then that's a good option, if they've previously been used to a quad bike or kids screaming that's also a good way to attract attention).  You gradually reduce the size of the fenced area and/or set up a race... yes it's more difficult with rare breeds that are fleet of foot with Zebedee-like qualities, but it can be done if you have the inclination....and if you don't, you call in specialists - breed society, other keepers, marksmen - whatever it takes.

The fact it's difficult is irrelevant.  Looking after livestock is difficult for all sorts of reasons.  If you can't do it on your own then you either contract someone to help (and pay the going rate) or you get rid of the livestock in question because you're not equipped to manage their welfare.

The original paddock wasn't well fenced!  The OP says they came to the bucket for 3 weeks despite frequenting other fields... that indicates they were never properly secured but the owner didn't address the issue and they gradually strayed further and further.  The OP has failed to prevent the stock leaving the holding but hasn't completed movement certificates (so has broken the law as well as potentially triggering standstills for other parties). 

We don't know the health status of the pets, but they are compromising the biosecurity of other premises and potentially contaminating ground and/or spreading disease.  How would you feel if your stock was affected by someone else's negligence in this way?

The OP clearly knows that 'flapping arms isn't the way' but leaves it to a neighbour to suggest an alternative???

And you want to make excuses for this person?

Sorry, but it doesn't cut ice for me!  This is wilful neglect of sentient beings as well as bad neighbourly behaviour.

Having 2 laminitic horses, one of whom is walking backwards in pain, also suggests significant neglect as laminitis is usually visible for a good while before it gets to that stage.  There are rare exceptions but it sounds from the description as though the issue here is to do with over-feeding.


No. I'm not making excuses. It just seems to me that having a brief explanation of what happened ( and I agree it wasn't ideal) you have made a lot of assumptions and came to your own conclusions. And I don't feel that this is what this forum is about.
Maybe I'm a bit super sensitive about people making uncalled for accusations because a slightly similar thing happened to me and I'm not a novice keeper. We had a cow who by accident missed the TB testing and the vet arranged to come out to test her the following week. She was quiet and well handled and I brought her back to our buildings, attached to a well fenced field, for ease of testing. At that location was a Dexter cow and her yearling short legged daughter, Poppy. So the newcomer would not be on her own. But Poppy took one look at her, and in spite of her diminutive size, chased the stranger out of the field. The cow cleared a standard stock fence, with 2 rows of barbed wire, in one leap and headed off down the road. We found her 2 miles later in a large unfenced field with no way of enclosing her. Then she disappeared across country. I put a post on Facebook asking if anyone had seen her. I got a reply stating how irresponsible I was to have a cow loose. Someone else said I should check my fences. (As stated - the fence was fine but the cow had cleared it like a champion hurdler.) And yes - I got the standard accusatory comment about biosecurity. All very helpful (not). See any similarities here? We got another siting of her 3 miles away, semi enclosed in a gateway. But by the time I got there with my trailer she had moved on again. Eventually she settled in a field of maize which was taller than her and she seemed to feel safe as she had cover. It was now getting dark and there was nothing more we could do so went home.
Next morning, she had moved on again a few more miles to a field close to the motorway. But again there was nowhere to enclose her. So we collected a young quiet bull that she was friendly with and built a pen round him with our handling gates, hoping she would come to him, as a friendly face. But she was so stressed by now, by being in a strange place, that she wouldn't come to him. As I said before - she was normally tame, and she would eat out of my hand. But now she wouldn't let me near here.  I couldn't risk her jumping over the motorway fence and causing an accident and maybe deaths. So I had her shot. It broke my heart.
I dare say that had I given a short account on here on the first day, of how I had a cow out that had escaped from my land, and had anyone any suggestions of how to catch her, then I would have got similar helpful comments  about unsuitable fencing and lack of responsibility and knowledge. And maybe Scarlet Dragon would have been able to give me precise instructions on how to catch her (in an ideal situation).
But things are not always how they seem and it is always easier to criticise when it's happening to someone else.


   Just saying . . . .


 
   
« Last Edit: Today at 12:12:47 am by landroverroy »
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
Re: Soay Wethers
« Reply #14 on: Today at 12:00:41 am »
@feralsoay have you made any progress with dealing with your sheep?  Has anything we have come up with been helpful?  As @in the hills has said it's all very sad, and I am sad that all I could conclude really was to shoot them.  I hope you have found our proferred help more positive than negative.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the the lifeblood of your land.

 

MOVED: Wethered lamb butting other three wethers

Started by Backinwellies (7.09)

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Last post July 25, 2017, 10:10:20 pm
by Backinwellies

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