The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: mab on November 06, 2013, 10:45:53 pm

Title: do sheep 'respect the elderly'?
Post by: mab on November 06, 2013, 10:45:53 pm
strange question I know, but when I got my new easycares I decided it would be a bad idea to try and feed them (bucket train) together with my elderly Shetland ewe Elfie as she's a lot smaller and lighter and might not cope with the rough fighting of the beefy commercial sheep.

but today Elfie was in the same paddock and came running to the buckets - and to my surprise the easycares didn't butt her out of the bucket, but actually seemed to hesitate and diffidently squeeze their heads in alongside, or just gave up and went to the other bucket (where the usual rough shoving went on as normal).

I'm sure there's a logical explanation but Elfie seems to command respect despite being much smaller and lighter than the others.
Title: Re: do sheep 'respect the elderly'?
Post by: mowhaugh on November 07, 2013, 06:55:07 am
I think it will be more that they perceive her has the boss because they have come onto her home turf, so see her as the leader.  I would watch they don't become more rough as they get used to and excited about the bucket.  Elfie is an amazing name for a sheep!
Title: Re: do sheep 'respect the elderly'?
Post by: mab on November 07, 2013, 01:27:32 pm
uh well, she's been with them for several weeks so I assumed they would have worked out who was boss by now. I'll try and feed them separately anyway as you're probably right.

As it happens the ram arrived last night so Elfie has had to go into an adjacent paddock (she's too old and toothless) so she'll be fed separately again for a few weeks (unless she finds her way in with the ram - wouldn't be the first time  ::) ).
Title: Re: do sheep 'respect the elderly'?
Post by: Calvadnack on November 07, 2013, 02:47:45 pm
Never underestimate a Shetland!  My elderly Shetland ewes wont put up with any nonsense from the younger crew, nor does my sole elderly Wiltshire horn ewe who they all respect and treat as Auntie Gwyneth.
Title: Re: do sheep 'respect the elderly'?
Post by: Graemscifi on November 07, 2013, 07:15:37 pm
Read with intrest your question, like you i have an old lady of at least 9 years (old for a cheviot) who runs every winter for the last 4 years with the new batch of ewe lambs i keep. The "Old Lady" is all the name she has as i am finm about not naming the food, i kept her on when she threw a prolapse during lambing the first year i had sheep and at the suggesting of my sheep sensi i kept her as flock leader for the wee ones. Like your Elfie she does Boss the others leading and somewhat dominating them, importantly teaching them life away from thier mothers, how to eat hay, dry food and leading them from field to field. I would not worry about her small stature, its my experiance that small sheep grow right big elbows at feeding time and are usual experts at getting thier fair share, and anyoneselse they can bolt down quick. I suspect that Elfie has earned her place of respect from your other sheep, and that she will be your flock alpha female for a while to come.

best of luck with the new sheepies, graemscifi
Title: Re: do sheep 'respect the elderly'?
Post by: devonlad on November 07, 2013, 07:30:49 pm
I agree with previous posts- our, hens, cats and sheep seem to all have a clearly established hierarchy which is invariably decided by who's been here the longest and rarely by size or strength. we have several generations of sheep but it is always the 3 originals who get prime position at the trough. our oldest and frailest hen must be in double figures age wise and never goes anywhere fast these days but if she decides its her turn at the feeder all the other stronger, swifter hens simply move away until she's finished
Title: Re: do sheep 'respect the elderly'?
Post by: mab on November 08, 2013, 11:14:33 pm
Aha, so it's not just my overactive imagination then  ;D certainly Elfie's always been the boss.