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Author Topic: Question on tails and ram lambs  (Read 5281 times)

Lostlambs

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Canada
Question on tails and ram lambs
« on: January 18, 2012, 01:43:55 pm »
Just wanted to find out if everyone docks tails yet and rings their ram lambs all the time. Here in Canada they have just started not to charge us for intact ram lambs going to market. I"m not castrating this year as I don't have to but would like to know how old the lambs can get before it makes a difference in the meat. Also I hate tailing just because they seem to really enjoy wagging their tails but realise fly strike and breeding is said to create problems if they are not tailed-does anybody not tail and whats the experience with that. Thanks, I am staying indoors as much as possible today as we're having a rotten cold snap 2 days of -30 to -40 with wind chill going to -49 C Hope all the animals come thru alright
Voss Electric Fence

Penninehillbilly

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2012, 03:12:08 pm »
Just wanted to find out if everyone docks tails yet and rings their ram lambs all the time.
as we're having a rotten cold snap 2 days of -30 to -40 with wind chill going to -49 C Hope all the animals come thru alright

can't help re the lambs (though farmers round here don't dock and seem to have problems with fly strike, but -
as we're having a rotten cold snap 2 days of -30 to -40 with wind chill going to -49 C Hope all the animals come thru alright
That should stop us complaining about winter! Hope you're all OK

Dougal

  • Joined Jul 2011
  • Port O' Menteith, Stirlingshire
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2012, 03:22:50 pm »
I advise castrating and tailing as much as possible. It might not be a great job but then putting up with the hassle of tup lambs in august through to november more than makes up for it! As for the tail, I take a fair chunk of the tail off. On male lambs I'll leave it about 4 inches long, longer on the ewe lambs because I like the tail to partially cover the udder to protect against late frosts. Some people like to leave the tail on for they feel removing it is cruel or traditional, maggots are a lot crueler, as is almost skinning the tail in the attempt to remove all the s**t before the lamb goes to slaughter. Wethers are easier to handle than tups at the best of times and so long as you leave a reasonable length they can still wag them!
It's always worse for someone else, so get your moaning done before they start using up all the available symathy!

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2012, 03:56:31 pm »
I always castrate unless for some reason I cant (balls not dropped etc in time for the 7 day limit for ringing). Ive never seen any signs of distress from the lambs, I normally do it at 1 day old.

As we have Shetlands their tails are naturally short (about 5 inches and narrow to a rat tail at the end so not woolly where they might get mucky) and arent docked at all as a breed as they dont need it; I wish other breeds could gradually breed for shorter tails too (tho not too short); then the issue wouldnt be an issue, but I guess they are selecting for what makes money which is fair enough. 

The only time Ive had to leave ram lambs uncastrated they have driven me mad by about January (we lamb in April), trashing fencing and getting stroppy and I have ended up doing an icy abbatoir trip!

I have noticed more breeders leaving tails on, I think some of the farm assurance supermarket schemes might outlaw it along with castration. Bit misguided if so, I think!

TheCaptain

  • Joined May 2010
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2012, 06:26:48 pm »
I've got Portlands and neither dock tails or castrate. We only had one ewe lamb with fly strike and that was high up on her rump so nothing to do with urine/feaces attracting flies. I don't castrate as I don't think it does them any good to be done that early on, and from what I've learnt from the sheep farmers, the boys don;t do as well when they've been castrated.

The boys haven't been that much of a pain in the arse, and we only had one escapee out of my lot that are going for slaughter in April/May, when they'll be 15 months old. He was only out for an hour and his Dad made sure he didn't get anywhere near the ladies!

Hazelwood Flock

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Dorset.
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2012, 06:29:46 pm »
I do dock tails, Greyface Dartmoors are longwoolls so too much tail is not good! they are plenty woolly enough to withstand the worst weather.
However, as I breed pure and register males as well as females, I do not castrate. I send bigger february born lambs on by november, and smaller ones by the following april.
Most hill breeds keep their tails as there is less risk of flystrike on the uplands. Lowland sheep are generally docked as the fly risk is much higher.
Not every day is baaaaaad!
Pedigree Greyface Dartmoor sheep.

Small Farmer

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Bedfordshire
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2012, 06:46:11 pm »
We always dock for welfare reasons, making sure there's enough left for modesty!  Castration was an issue because we were only about 50% successful within the 7 day window.  I can't detect any difference in taste, and the boys seem to grow faster entire so we don't worry about it.
Being certain just means you haven't got all the facts

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2012, 07:39:13 pm »
I lamb outside and neither ball or tail. I dont think it makes the slightest difference in the meat from the rams and they seem to finish more quickly entire. I prevent flies with vetazin. Can be a bit of a bugger if they scour, but with proper minerals it should be minimal. Id rather take that risk than interfere with their bonding when they are just days old.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2012, 12:11:53 am »
Wow, a lot to pick up on here.

We don't always castrate and we don't always dock - sometimes we just can't get around them all soon enough as we lamb the majority outdoors.

Long-tailed lambs get dirtier and therefore are more likely to get strucken, yes.

Lambs will waggle their tails whether they are 2 inches or 2 feet long.  I really don't think they notice any difference.  We might like to see the waggling tails coming out from under mummy's udder, but that's a different issue!

Farm Assurance is okay with docking but insists on enough being left to cover the anus, and the vulva in girls.  Some farmers may well feel that to leave so much negates the benefits of docking in the first place, so don't now bother.  We do have some older girls whose modesty is not covered, and boy did I feel for those poor lasses in the -21C temperatures in the two previous winters  :o

Female hill sheep (this far north anyways) are left full-tailed in order to provide warmth for the udder in the winter.  However, modern practices are to 'crutch' for tupping - the real hill farm(er)s just clip the wool off the 10 inches from tail root to just past the vulva, leaving a silly-looking pom-pom on the end - but it keeps the udder warm.

The sales routes we use (which includes deadweight to supermarkets and to our local butcher as well as through the auction ring) have no problem with entire tup lambs.  I presume that means there is no difference in the meat, but that could be a false assumption.

BH used to assert that entire boys grew faster and better.  However we have been castrating more the last few years and have found:
  • no evidence that they grow any faster in either case
  • no evidence that wethers lay down more fat than tups - possibly except if there is ad lib cake
  • tup lambs do stop growing and lose condition when the seasons turn towards tupping time
  • wethers are less likely to develop horns or scurrs in breeds where not all sheep have horns
  • we end up in August and September drawing anything vaguely ready that has testicles because they are becoming a management problem and will start to go back if we keep them on much longer
  • this year and last the fat prices didn't drop very dramatically later in the season, and remained good through the winter, so there is not so much financial advantage in sending lambs away early even if still rather light
  • because we focus our draw on testicles, we end up with some wethers and fat ewe lambs growing too large and fat, and thereby losing us money - they eat more cake and fetch less per kilo, plus deadweight for the supermarket is capped at 21 or 21.5kg
  • no evidence of any check in growth using rings at 24-48 hours - whereas BH recalls a good week's check when they used to use burdizzos at two weeks to a month old
So we are going to try to ring castrate more of our male lambs this year, and certainly any born after 'first cycle' and any twin or triplet lambs.  I know what you mean about interfering with bonding, SteveHants; when lambing outside it can be a challenge to catch and ring the lambs and not lose contact with the ewe, especially with twins and with inexperienced ewes. 

Lostlambs, you have some serious weather there.  Are you lambing now???  We are advised not to put ear tags in when it's very cold as there would be a risk of frostbite at the wound site - I don't know if the same could apply to ringing tails or balls when the conditions are very very cold.
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

Cinderhills

  • Joined Jul 2010
  • North Yorkshire
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2012, 09:54:49 am »
We also dock tails (we have Ryelands that have very thick wool).  One year I didn't do one short enough and it was a nightmare so I always make sure I dock sufficiently now.  Only have a handful of lambs and don't castrate as I find they grow bigger and are always the best meat.  They get slaughtered at about 8 months.

feldar

  • Joined Apr 2011
  • lymington hampshire
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2012, 11:52:09 am »
We don't castrate either, our lambs have usually gone to slaughter long before the meat in tainted.We also sometimes pick a lamb for show quite late on in the season and it would be a bummer if we had cut him!
We do tail though, our breed society recommends it and we couldn't show with long tails plus the weather in our area would possibly mean a lot of fly strike.
I know in the old days they used to leave tails until they were quite big before taking off with hot irons

Lostlambs

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Canada
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2012, 02:59:39 pm »
Thanks for all the input, I run a small shetland group(around 22) and have about 40 commercial(hamp/char/suffolk/and this year dorset cross) I run into tricky penning to make sure my big hamp ram and the other boys don't cach my shetland girls, but really like the shetlands so it's a trade off. We get docked for tails here so have no choice but to do them and most are taken really short-where the underside of the tail starts to show wool. I usually go longer to cover the girls as I can't imagine how awful hanging out in the cold wind that would feel. At least the boys have some wool cover ! Usually what starts across the big pond(what we say for overseas :D :D) takes a while but comes here so was thinking maybe tailing was starting to be not done.The pig farrowing barns are one of the changes I hope spread to be banned here too as it's just brutal too see them locked into such a small pen with no exercise or movement. As for lambing-I am not supposed to be but had to post yesterday as I had twins born about an hour before I got there. That would be the dorset ram houdini fence jumper last fall  :-[ I try to lamb in pasture starting no earlier than mid May as April is quite often snowstorm weather here. It's really tough keeping them alive in this weather in the winter.  :wave:

feldar

  • Joined Apr 2011
  • lymington hampshire
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2012, 07:36:52 pm »
i know what you mean about the pig pens.
Dock tailing here is quite strict you have to cover all the female bits ( if you know what i mean) and last year at the Bath and West Show we had a right old show down when entries were chucked out the show ring for tails too short.
The Suffolk folk had a right handbag moment and nearly all mutinied and boycotted the show but then their tails are really short.
The Hamps ended up with only 3 entries in one class cause the others were asked to leave for tails too short.
This year we left even more tail on but i think they look awful like that. the trouble is the older and fatter the ewe gets their tails do shorten up and what looked ok as a lamb can be too short after she has her first lamb.

robert waddell

  • Guest
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2012, 08:44:16 pm »
feldar do you have photos of the correct tail length  for the hamps     the royal highland had a spat with the tails 2 years ago as well :farmer:

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Question on tails and ram lambs
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2012, 10:11:58 pm »
I might add that I have had up until this year only Wilts Horns so:

- Shedding sheep have lower incidences of flystrike anyway
- They are all going to have horns
- Mismothering can be a problem in the breed although conscientious breeders are making a concerted effort to breed that trait out.

 

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