The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: violetsprite on March 06, 2012, 07:50:50 pm

Title: How long might my soay live?
Post by: violetsprite on March 06, 2012, 07:50:50 pm
I have a female soay that i homed from the rspca in 1998 - no one knew her age but she had kidded and weaned at least once so guess she was 2 years + . This makes her at least 15/16 years old now and she's pretty tough - she's never been ill and survived an attack from a stray dog last summer when i thought she would die. But lately i.e. last few weeks she seems to have become 'old' she doesn't follow the goats (she is my only sheep) around as she used to, is slower and is periodically staying down in the shelter even at feed times. Today she wasn't even in the shelter and seemed to have wondered off on her own. She also looks as though she is sucking her feed rather than chewing it altho she lost her front teeth some time ago & back ones are still there. She had a cut on one foot about a month ago and went lame but we treated her & bandaged it up but she doesn't seem to have got back 100%.  Never having had other sheep i have no idea whether to expect that she may be about as old as she will get or whether it's just a slowing down. when my goats have died in the past they have been quite obvious about being unwell but i think sheep may be different - will she just fade away? what should i expect?
Title: Re: How long might my soay live?
Post by: colliewoman on March 06, 2012, 08:27:34 pm
I would have the vet check her molars, they can get spurs on them when they get on a bit, and will stop eating properly. Personally I think molar problems are one of the main causes of elderly sheep going down hill, though they do all have to go of something  :'(
Title: Re: How long might my soay live?
Post by: in the hills on March 06, 2012, 08:31:10 pm
Ahhhhh ......that sounds like a really good age. I am new to sheep keeping and my Soay are only younsters but I was told that they would make 10-12 years of age as average.

Sorry I cant be of much help but I am sure someone with lots more experience will be along soon. You could try The Soay Sheep Society. The secretary, Julie Suffolk is very good and I am sure she would be able to tell you more. I know that she has some old ladies!!!
Title: Re: How long might my soay live?
Post by: Fleecewife on March 06, 2012, 11:45:13 pm
cough cough - er sheep lamb not kid  :D :D you obviously spend too much time with goats  ;D :sheep:

Your Soay has reached a fine old age but she is not necessarily about to die.  We have several ancient biddies, Soay, Hebridean and Shetland.  The Soays in particular seem to look half dead for ages, like wobbly old toast racks but they continue to be full of life, cheek and fun.
We have an old Heb at the moment who is 17 and has gone off her food.  She has been in top condition for the last few years since we stopped breeding her, but suddenly refused to eat although she clearly wanted to.  We checked her mouth - we knew her front teeth had gone long ago, but find now that her bottom molars have also gone. We have given her liquid molasses in case this is just a short time of sore gums after another tooth came out, but if she doesn't start eating again soon that will be the end.

It could be with your Soay that one of her molars is coming loose, in which case it will interfere with her chewing at the moment but once it's out she will be fine again.  On the other hand Soays are not as long lived as Hebs so it could be that she is on her way out.  If she seems content then let her carry on, but if she appears to be in pain
it could be time to call the knacker.
Title: Re: How long might my soay live?
Post by: violetsprite on March 07, 2012, 08:25:06 am
in the hills - thanks for your suggestion i contacted Julie and have had a lovely & helpful reply from her - she believes my soay has reached a good age but suggested a few pointers to look for/act on - similar to advice given re-teeth plus basics of wormers/anti-biotics but most likely just ageing. Well spotted fleecewife - you are right that in 15 years of keeping stock she is the only sheep i have ever had - she's had to share her life with numerous & various goats! Thanks all-  i'll just be watching her day by day - btw love the description of wobbly toast rack - ha ha - very apt!
Title: Re: How long might my soay live?
Post by: summermeadows on March 07, 2012, 12:34:09 pm
We had a Welsh ewe in the flock when we took over the herd who I traced back in the records 17 years. She had a lamb in that year and raised it successfully, but I felt she shouldn't go through another winter and very sadly took her to the abbatoir last year with some others. She must've been a pet lamb in her youth as she was very tame and incredibly cheeky, always up to no good. With hindsight, I wish I'd got the vet to put her down, but I didn't want to be too soft. It was the saddest moment having to send her to end her days there and she came back towards the trailer, clearly querying where she was and "can we go home now". Anyway, it was better than letting her go through the winter we had here last year..  I didn't know sheep could live that long. I wonder how old she would've got to in the end? Knowing her though, she'd have got herself pregnant again no matter where we put her and had a miserable winter.
Title: Re: How long might my soay live?
Post by: ellisr on March 07, 2012, 12:53:12 pm
There was a story in the news lately about a sheep that was 25 years old and had just died as she jumped a fence and fell off a cliff. So it looks like some can live a long old time. :sheep:
Title: Re: How long might my soay live?
Post by: violetsprite on March 09, 2012, 09:15:31 pm
OMG - who knew it would be 3 days! Vet came out today because 'Biscuit' went down yesterday and didn't get up - seems she had a major heart murmur and i decided that rather than try any intervention it was best to call it a day. Thanks to those who gave advice  :) sad day
Title: Re: How long might my soay live?
Post by: colliewoman on March 09, 2012, 09:20:33 pm
 :bouquet: :bouquet: So sorry x
Title: Re: How long might my soay live?
Post by: in the hills on March 09, 2012, 09:26:51 pm
Really sorry to hear your news but you rescued her and cared for her until she was a good old age.
Title: Re: How long might my soay live?
Post by: squeasy on March 09, 2012, 10:30:34 pm
Really sorry to hear your news.
Title: Re: How long might my soay live?
Post by: Fleecewife on March 09, 2012, 11:12:28 pm
That is sad - but you did the right thing at the right time.  What a long-lived sheep she was  :) 8) :sheep: and I bet she had a super life with you.
Title: Re: How long might my soay live?
Post by: Bramblecot on March 10, 2012, 10:35:06 am
She was a very lucky sheep to have found you.  :bouquet: