Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: “A sheep’s only hobby...  (Read 1949 times)

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
“A sheep’s only hobby...
« on: December 11, 2018, 10:34:50 am »
... is what it can eat and what it can die of.  “ - Exmoor saying

So, you know how we always say that these sayings derive from farmers’ frustrations at sheep, being prey animals, being so danged good at masking any problems?  That in the wild, a predator would be quick to spot a weakness, and pick that animal off, so survival lay in being able to look normal?

Well, I was thinking. Surely by now, after centuries of domestication, there should be an evolutionary pressure on sheep that tell you they’re sick, so you can treat them, and they can recover and breed again!
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

Twotwo

  • Joined Aug 2015
Re: “A sheep’s only hobby...
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2018, 12:09:07 pm »
Not in anyway wishing to knock anyone’s shepherding skills. But maybe they do tell us in the small subtle ways as do horses and dogs but because we tend to have more than one or two and they don’t live with us in the same way, maybe because we haven’t had so much close domestic contact sheep haven’t learnt how to respond to us. Also how much research has been done into individual sheep behaviour. Only a thought ????

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: “A sheep’s only hobby...
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2018, 12:25:50 pm »
Its a phrase that irritates me.. In 12yrs of sheep keeping I've only had two unexplained (post lambing) deaths both happened in the first 4 yrs. I have a flock of between 20-20 ewes which I check every day and usually can tell one is feeling unwell.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: “A sheep’s only hobby...
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2018, 04:15:17 pm »
You only have to look on youtube to see instances of various animals which come to humans for help, including wild ones. 


However, the messages sheep get from us re health are mixed, which would reduce any chance of evolving a fixed response.  If the sheep is only a little bit unwell, then yes, it might get some help, but if it's bad then as often as not it gets the chop.  I think they have taken the sensible option to keep on being wary and NEVER TRUST A HUMAN.  It's a bit like us asking a lion for help.......
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 09:39:50 pm by Fleecewife »
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

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

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: “A sheep’s only hobby...
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2018, 05:01:18 pm »
Twice now, I've had a ewe actively seek out my help during lambing. Each time, I didn't step in immediately, thinking "I'll just sit here and watch for a bit first", but the ewe has walked up to me, before turning round to stick her bum in my face. I'm pretty sure that means "would you mind giving this a pull? I think it's stuck".


Zwartbles are renowned for being friendly though, and certainly most of ours have no fear of us whatsoever. I think this is something to do with them being a dairy breed. Would you want to milk a stroppy ewe every day?  No, neither would I. This then means that over the generations there must have been considerable selection pressure for breeding friendly sheep.
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: “A sheep’s only hobby...
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2018, 06:36:25 pm »
Yes, we’ve noticed the same similarity in personality between our Zwartbles sheep and our dairy cows, and I agree, I think we select for those traits in breeding for that purpose.

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

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: “A sheep’s only hobby...
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2018, 06:39:26 pm »
I’ve had a number of sheep come to me over the years, and I’ve been happy to help with whatever problem they’ve been having.  And it’s not always the extra specially tame ones either.  But then my sheep get to know me over a period of years, never see me hurt or abuse any of them, and see me help any in trouble, so maybe they’re just showing some brains.  And maybe I do select, in part, for this characteristic! 
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

 

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Energy Helpline Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Ark Farm Livestock Movement Service

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2024. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS