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Author Topic: Elderly sheep with hearing loss - ideas to improve his hearing?  (Read 454 times)

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Elderly sheep with hearing loss - ideas to improve his hearing?
« on: November 15, 2019, 07:32:58 pm »
This is on behalf of a friend; the lovely friend, in fact, with whom two of my most precious sheep now have forever homes  :love:

She’s a talented felter with an off-grid smallholding in Co Durham where she keeps a non-slaughter flock and uses the fleece for felting.

Her now oldest boy is still fit and active, but is very deaf and fairly blind, which means she can’t easily encourage him to come up for extra feeds and so on, because by the time she’s got the wether’s attention, everyone else has cottoned on too!  :D

His happy, active, healthy state owes much to his freedom; he loves to be out and roaming her acres.  She doesn’t have any way of making a smaller “retirement paddock” with shelter nearer to home, even if he would be happy being so constrained.

So she’s been wondering if anyone has any experience with older sheep and either improving their hearing - with drops, she wondered, if they get waxy ears perhaps - or finding things they can still hear when they have lost a lot of their hearing, so that she can find ways of attracting his attention for extra goodies without having the whole flock thundering over! 

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Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing
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Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Elderly sheep with hearing loss - ideas to improve his hearing?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2019, 08:47:04 pm »
 :wave: As you know, we have some elderly sheep, but we have never had a deaf one.  We have had a couple of old sheep which became blind and they have shown an ability to learn and to adapt which has surprised us.  Not knowing what your friend has tried, I shall tell you how our old ladies manage and you can see if anything sounds applicable.  First off though, one of our dogs is now quite deaf and we have found that the only ways to get her attention are clapping loudly, and shining a torch between her and us when it's dark.  The clapping has to be of a certain pitch, so that might work with the tup, but you would need to be close to train him.  Similarly a torch might work at night.
Experience with our sheep has shown that we will never be without the shovers from the rest of the flock, but our old ladies learn just to shove harder, as soon as they can smell the treats (yep - digestives!  Also Tup and Lamb which has a sweet smell)  So if the tup wants a treat, he'll have to push to get it.
We find that the sheep cannot hear when it's windy, so calling, clapping and so on don't work then, and they go hungry.  At any other time they recognise our voices - your friend should try calling both high and low, and make sure the tup is close when she does this at first.  Rattling buckets and rustling biscuit wrappers work over a great distance - worth experimenting with in case the tup has one of those within his hearing range.  Our sheep have also learnt shouted commands such as 'turn RIGHT Elfie', 'Careful, Elphie', 'This way, Elphie', STOP, Elphie', and so on - you can steer a sheep that way rather effectively once they have learnt the calls - negative reinforcement is usually when they collide with something!
I suggest your friend makes sure the tup's ears are clean inside, and free of hanging fleece, the same with his eyes.
As I've been typing, I have felt increasingly that the torch, even in daylight and strong winds, flashed across his eyes, but never shone directly in them, will attract his attention best.
All this may be no use, but you never know.


Incidentally, when you are driving and there are birds in the road, flashing your headlights at them is far more effective that sounding your horn to shift them away.
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kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Elderly sheep with hearing loss - ideas to improve his hearing?
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2019, 07:20:56 am »
when I have an oldie who gets a little extra I often find if I keep regular times they will hang around waiting for me even when the rest of the flock is off grazing elsewhere.   I would be going in and finding him with a few treats in my Pocket and gradually get him usued to loooking for me at a certain time of the day. Hes likely to move closer to the fence at the prescribed time once he gets the idea.
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SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Elderly sheep with hearing loss - ideas to improve his hearing?
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2019, 09:18:58 am »
Thanks folks, keep the ideas coming!

Not that it makes any difference, but he’s a wether by the way - she doesn’t breed them. 
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Argyll
Re: Elderly sheep with hearing loss - ideas to improve his hearing?
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2019, 11:44:33 am »
Have fed BFL rams in with ewes out of a 5lt bucket , just hold it in front of them , 5lt just big enough for one head and difficult for others to push in

Penninehillbilly

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Elderly sheep with hearing loss - ideas to improve his hearing?
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2019, 12:38:05 pm »
Shining a torch sounds a good idea, also I wonder if he would hear a whistle? I have a referee type whistle which is quite piercing.

Buttermilk

  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: Elderly sheep with hearing loss - ideas to improve his hearing?
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2019, 07:58:09 am »
If the deaf sheep is anything like my old deaf dog whilst unable to hear any sounds she could feel the vibrations it made.  Low sounds worked best for her.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Elderly sheep with hearing loss - ideas to improve his hearing?
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2019, 08:24:01 am »
If the deaf sheep is anything like my old deaf dog whilst unable to hear any sounds she could feel the vibrations it made.  Low sounds worked best for her.

I’ll tell my pal to get a didgeridoo!  ;D
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Elderly sheep with hearing loss - ideas to improve his hearing?
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2019, 05:58:34 pm »
or get the sheep a vibrating collar or phone?? :-)
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Elderly sheep with hearing loss - ideas to improve his hearing?
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2019, 12:14:05 am »
 
or get the sheep a vibrating collar or phone?? :-)

 :roflanim:


You must have seen this
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

messyhoose

  • Joined Nov 2017
Re: Elderly sheep with hearing loss - ideas to improve his hearing?
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2019, 07:45:24 pm »
i'm with Shep.i feed a ram i rescued as a starving 9 month lamb but put back to the shore some months later. He is fine with his freedom but if he wants a bit extra i can feed him out of all the others that soon learnt that i had food to feed him by using a margarine tub to hold the food- only his muzzle can fit in to eat it, so i can cup my hands either side to deflect others attempts to steal it. No i dont feed him often- it just makes it easier to catch him for treatment, otherwise he would have to wait til the normal wild sheep gatherings which is infrequent.

 

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