Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: . Organic sheep ?  (Read 8946 times)

RUSTYME

  • Joined Oct 2009
. Organic sheep ?
« on: February 21, 2014, 12:33:14 pm »
Thinking of getting some sheep this year , and was wondering what the situation was regarding keeping them organically , i don't mean feed wise , that is simple enough , i mean worming , jabs etc .
Any help on the subject welcome , everyone i know pumps every chemical known to man on and in their sheep ,
surely there is an alternative ?
Things were very different last time i kept them .

clydesdaleclopper

  • Joined Aug 2009
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: . Organic sheep ?
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2014, 12:42:05 pm »
As I understand it worming is allowed when FEC shows it is necessary.
Our holding has Anglo Nubian and British Toggenburg goats, Gotland sheep, Franconian Geese, Blue Swedish ducks, a whole load of mongrel hens and two semi-feral children.

Me

  • Joined Feb 2014
  • Wild West
Re: . Organic sheep ?
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2014, 12:49:16 pm »
Co-graze with other species and don't have too many per acre, you could try hair/shedding sheep to reduce need for strike treatments (T.W?) there are ways of reducing your use of medicines

RUSTYME

  • Joined Oct 2009
.
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2014, 01:03:58 pm »
I have 6 acres with 2 horses on atm .
I was thinking of just a very small flock of 6 , maybe l ram and 5 ewes .  That provides all the meat and wool i need , plus some for family etc .
The land is 3 fields , well 4 really , the river divides the bottom one . So they can follow the horses round in rota .

fsmnutter

  • Joined Oct 2012
  • Fettercairn, Aberdeenshire
Re: . Organic sheep ?
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2014, 01:13:02 pm »
I've worked on many sheep farms, lambing on only one organic sheep and cattle farm. It was a bit of a joke. Because sheep haven't had the routine preventative care, lambs got far more illness, the ewes got more infections. You are allowed to treat sick animals on an organic farm, as not to would be against animal welfare, but i saw far more antibiotics and stuff pumped into these than a well run traditional style farm. I think the organic label is a waste of time, well managed animals can have limited drugs, including vaccines and working based on risk and burden, and end up with far fewer drugs put into their bodies in the end, regardless of whether they're called 'organic'.

RUSTYME

  • Joined Oct 2009
.
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2014, 01:19:04 pm »
Yep sorry , should not have used the word 'organic' .
I just used it in the non marketing term , ie as chemical free as possible . 

Me

  • Joined Feb 2014
  • Wild West
Re: . Organic sheep ?
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2014, 01:39:36 pm »
I like organic dairy the most - "Why does Mr Jones spread fertilizer in the dark dad?"

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: . Organic sheep ?
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2014, 01:47:38 pm »

Any help on the subject welcome , everyone i know pumps every chemical known to man on and in their sheep ,
surely there is an alternative ?
 

I don't know a farmer that does this - apart from anything else the cost is prohibitive.  Wormers, pour-ons and the like are preventatives.  If you medicate only to cure it's probably too late and will almost certainly be much more expensive.  If you medicate to erase footrot, scab and so on from your flock you'll reap the benefit for the foreseeable future provided any incoming stock is properly quarantined.

Do you need a ram with just five ewes?  Could you hire instead?  Do you plan on keeping the sheep and horses in the same field?  Horses can be vicious towards sheep and run them ragged.

Tim W

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: . Organic sheep ?
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2014, 04:46:48 pm »
I have run a large farm on a registered organic basis for 20 + years (900 ewes /120 beef sucklers/240 outdoor sows)

The key is forward planning

Main perceived problems for sheep would be;
worming --clean grazing system and selective breeding in the long term. regular FEC analysis to forecast problems
Vaccination--organic standards require need to be shown---I have never vaccinated for anything but this year I will vaccinate 1 flock for clostridial diseases as the death rate has accelerated recently
Flystrike prevention---try using hair sheep to minimise risk and selective breeding (susceptibility to strike has a high heritability)
Footrot---long term eradication by culling   ---short term is by treating/isolating and culling

Most sheep (farm animal) problems are caused by over stocking/stress----minimise both and you are in with a good chance of success

I see plenty of sheep farms, both conventional and organic. There are plenty of good and bad in both camp
My organic sheep make me more money than my conventional flocks (regardless of organic premium)


RUSTYME

  • Joined Oct 2009
.
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2014, 04:56:52 pm »
No chance of hiring , and the sheep will follow the horses round in rota , ie go in the field after the horses .

ladyK

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Conwy Valley
Re: . Organic sheep ?
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2014, 05:59:46 pm »
Any help on the subject welcome , everyone i know pumps every chemical known to man on and in their sheep ,
surely there is an alternative ?

I'm with you on this one, RM. I'm new to smallholding, and found myself quite surprised, not to say shocked, by the amount of chemicals everyone seems to be pouring on and into animals, even on the small/hobby scale.

Thank you TimW for your input, sounds spot on to me!
There is the approach that focusses on fighting desease, and then there is the approach that focuses on maintaining health, and in that respect, reducing stress in every way seems vital to me. Starting from there, I try keeping a very close eye on my animals, so that I can treat problems straight away and quite specifically, and I will try to avoid generalised 'one fits all' prevention measures as much as possible.
I wanted a hardy, primitive breed for that reason too, and so far my Soays have been doing very well without much input from me (keeping my fingers crossed!).


"If one way is better than another, it is the way of nature." (Aristotle)

Tim W

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: . Organic sheep ?
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2014, 06:49:54 pm »

I'm with you on this one, RM. I'm new to smallholding, and found myself quite surprised, not to say shocked, by the amount of chemicals everyone seems to be pouring on and into animals, even on the small/hobby scale.


It's the quick fix option and one that often requires the least thought!
A good example is a modern dairy farm I visit ---they have to foot bath cows twice a day just to keep digital dermatitis at bay. The cows are very poor on their feet requiring constant attention in the way of trimming/antibiotics etc. The animals locomotion is terrible
But the only reaction is to treat the symptom ---the cause (a mixture of poor breeding and narrow cubicles ?) is totally ignored
Similarly the average sheep farmer only thinks about treating worms with a drench---the possibility of using a clean or rotational grazing approach only occurs to a very few----the amount of farmers who take a FEC which turns out to be low and then drench 'just in case' is alarming

darkbrowneggs

  • Joined Aug 2010
    • The World is My Lobster
Re: . Organic sheep ?
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2014, 06:58:21 pm »
I kept a small sheep flock fo about 25 years and rarely wormed or drenched for anything, though I would have done if it was necessary for health and welfare reasons.


  Tried to keep the grazing as clean as possible, not always as easy as you think, but I at the end I did use fly pour on.  Especially in the autumn and also before shearing if it turned hot and they hadnt been sheared in time.  Fly strike can come on so very quickly and its horrible for the stock and the stockman


 I kept Black Welsh Mountain and never had any foot problems
To follow my travel journal see http://www.theworldismylobster.org.uk

For lots of info about Marans and how to breed and look after them see www.darkbrowneggs.info

mab

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • carmarthenshire
Re: . Organic sheep ?
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2014, 07:47:27 pm »
I doubt I can add much to what's been said already, but I would agree that it can be done with minimal  chemicals with careful management.

personally I've managed without worming by low stock levels and rotational grazing (though I will use chemicals if it's the best thing for the sheep). I have managed some years without pour-ons but it depends on the weather or if they have injuries/dirty bums or something that will attract trouble - it also helps to have (tame) animals that you can check closely twice a day.

I would be looking at something like shetlands - primitive, so relatively free of problems bred into commercial sheep, good wool, nice small clean tails, trouble free lambing, trouble free feet. (although I've actually bought some easycares this year - verdict is still out on them - but I don't want the wool and I need to think about their market value if I should need to sell quickly).



Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: . Organic sheep ?
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2014, 09:42:06 am »
I take TimW's point regarding managing the flock for good health but I'm a big fan of vaccinating for clostridial diseases.  I've not yet lost a lamb to them and since my flock has to make money the price of one lamb more than covers the cost.

 

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