Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Sheep at night and horns  (Read 370 times)


  • Joined Aug 2018
Sheep at night and horns
« on: November 28, 2019, 09:56:26 pm »
Sorry - two totally unrelated questions.

First of all, my ewes are polled. One of them has two hard lumps where horns would be. Is this normal? I only noticed this yesterday. She has a sort of hard lump on her cheek. On closer inspection the skin looked kind of broken. Nothing coming out of it. One of my Badgers had a similar thing on her foot which went away after a squirt of AB spray (whether it was the spray or it just went away naturally I don’t know) so gave her a squirt and will watch. Anyway, I’ve digressed. Whilst feeling her head I noticed the hard little lump on her head. This just seemed a little scabby, didn’t look sore or nasty so left it. Today I’ve found she has one on the other side. Almost symmetrical. Is this where horns would have been originally? Or is it just coincidence?

Secondly, my Radnors have moved fields and I’m checking them twice a day. This evening, just as it was starting to get dark, I went to check and a lot of them were laid down. Some looked kind of tired. The ewe (coincidentally the one with the lumps) let me sit right next to her and stroke her, rub her ears, and generally fuss her. This is really unusual as they are not as tame as to let you touch them. I expected her to get up and walk off. I was worried she was poorly and checked her again later but she had moved (and she was fine earlier). So, long story, but at that time of day are sheep generally more docile? I always worry when animals look sleepy and keep closing their eyes that there’s something wrong (chickens being another example).

Sorry for more weird questions. Maybe I could add one more whilst I’m at it? This new field they’re in is a bit rough and unloved from where the property has been for sale for a period etc. It has a lot of tall dock which has long since gone to seed (now attaching itself to their wool) and patches of nettles. Neither of these are harmful to sheep, are they?


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Sheep at night and horns
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2019, 01:11:08 am »
I can answer on a couple of points only.  You don't say what breed your polled ewes are.  Texels, which are polled, often have lumps, bumps and even scurry horns, and I have seen them on Shetlands too.  If they are where horns would be, then yes they are a throwback to hornedness.  The only drawback I can think of is that if they get knocked and they bleed, then they could attract flies, so put a drop of Crovect or whatever you use on them when you do the sheep.

Sheep love nettles especially in winter and will also eat young dock leaves. They are full of vitamins and micronutrients so are great for sheep to eat, the docks in a lesser quantity than nettles.  The sheep will regulate how much they need.
Docks which have gone to seed are not a good idea to leave around - the seeds and dried stems will stick in the sheep's fleece, decreasing the value of the fleece, whether for skins or to sell to the BWMB, and annoying the sheep, being spiky.  The seeds will also contribute to the seed store in the ground - dock seeds are still viable after 20 years, so clearing them is a longterm project.

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

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie


  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: Sheep at night and horns
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2019, 07:49:27 am »
Thanks Fleecewife.

These are my Hill Radnors. If I can I’ll try and check some of the other ewes to see if they’re the same. Just seems strange they’re so symmetrical and in the place the horns would be.

So no need to worry about the nettles and docks then. Someone told me nettles were poisonous but I didn’t think that was right.

This field is not ours. We’ve had sooooo much rain ours are getting destroyed. Our neighbours have moved in but done nowt with the land (I’m not sure why they bought the place as they don’t have smallholding ambitions!!) and asked if we’d put some sheep on there to try and help it out. So whereas I am concerned about the seeds in the fleece I’m probably less so about the seed burden on the land, as honestly I think it’s pretty riddled already. The only thing I could do is go in and cut and remove the standing dock but it is rather a large field! It’s a shame as it’s a nice field. Also got a thistle issue too. And the dreaded brambles and a bit of bracken thrown in for good measure. We’ve said to the neighbours maybe an idea to  start thinking about sorting it out next year as it can turn to ruin so easily.

Anyway, I will keep an eye on their fleeces. Yesterday when I did my second check they were brushing out a bit more. Will definitely not be bring them back to ours covered in seeds!!


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