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Author Topic: Will they ever tame up?  (Read 27252 times)

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Will they ever tame up?
« on: July 09, 2014, 09:42:05 am »
 
OK, I was warned about the Manx Loaghtans, so this is entirely on my head. However, we figured we owed it to our family connections to give the breed a go, and what a learning curve it's been so far!  ;D
 
We have four gimmers who were fairly tame when we first got them at the start of May, and would come for a scoop of sheep nuts, albeit nervously - make any movement at all, and they'd scatter.
 

 
However, since the grass started to grow, they won't come to a bucket, and now have a 'scare radius' of about 40 metres. This is without any chasing about - they'll bolt if you just walk up to them calmly. So, when they contracted eye infections from the neighbours flock a month ago, there wasn't much I could do except observe with binoculars! Thankfully they all cleared up within a week, but there wasn't much point in getting the vet out if he couldn't get near them!
 

 
I've now spent a fortune on a 16'x16' catching pen and 5'x6' 'treating pen' (pics will follow once I've hung the final two gates), and managed to coax them into it last night with a mixture of bribery and downright lies so I could treat one with an infection around its ear tag and dose the others with clik. However, whilst I was doing this, they careered around the wee pen, clattering their heads off the gates and making me quite worried they were going to hurt themselves  :( .
 
Their parent flock are nowhere as flighty as this, so I wonder if having four gimmers on their own has made them a bit wild - think teenagers on holiday camp? Our sheep farming neighbour says he's never seen anything like it, and has christened them "Mad Loaghtans"!
 
My question is, will they tame up in the winter when there's less food around, or once they've had lambs of their own? I don't need cuddles, but I've had quite enough of checking them through binoculars!  To make matters worse, Mrs Womble fell in love with Zwartbles at the Highland Show, so we now have two of them following us round like Andrex Puppies, and I'm smarting at the contrast  :roflanim: .
 
What do you think good people of TAS?  What on earth should I do?  ???
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 09:44:42 am by Womble »
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

Sbom

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Staffordshire
Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2014, 09:46:06 am »
Sell them and buy more Zwartbles!!  :roflanim:

Ok so that's no help, but I just love my zwartbles and have no experience of your breed at all!

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2014, 09:59:52 am »
If they ate out of your outstretched hand once, they will again.

But if you don't like them and prefer Zwartbles... sell or eat them.

I love my Manxes, and my Shetland Xs, but they are naughty; more trouble than a bagful of monkeys  :D.  But so much character, and such good mums, we forgive them :hugsheep:

Having ordered 2 black Wensleydale ewe lambs, a Shetland tup lamb and black girl, I have promised BH to try to not buy any more sheep this year...  :innocent:

Quote
Mad Loaghtans
  Love it!   :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

marka

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Moray, NE Scotland
  • www.facebook.com/WellsideCroft
    • Facebook
Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2014, 10:17:55 am »
Ive not had much experience with sheep, however in our small flock of castlemilk's, we have some who will always come up and see us in the field whether we have a bucket of food or not, we have some who will only come when they see the bucket and we have some who just aren't interested no matter what tempting treats we have - so they do all have their own characters

Consequently I suppose, the decision can only come from you - do you stick with them and accept the fact that the ones you have are standoff-ish, do you sell them on and get some other ML's or sell them and get something different.

It all depends on how much you like the breed.

I hope this helps.

Regards

Mark
Castlemilk Moorit sheep and Belted Galloway cattle, plus other hangers on.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2014, 10:31:33 am »
Actually, I should say... in my experience, they are less tame once they have lambs, as they are busy protecting the lambs and you may be a threat.  As the lambs get bigger, the ewes get more bold again, and the lure of the digestive biscuit again breaks down any reserve ;)

It might be different if you lamb them indoors, and keep them in for a few days before and after, so they get used to you bringing all their food, water and bedding.  But mine lambing outdoors are very standoffish with young lambs at foot.

I do agree about the 'giddy teenager' thing though - we reared a largeish batch of heifers one year, and they absolutely were a bunch of rowdy, giggling teenage girls ::)
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

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2014, 10:55:08 am »
 
Thanks All,

Weather dependent, we would be lambing outdoors. In all honesty, I've got very little chance of getting them into the shed as things stand!
 
My plan was to put them to a commercial tup this autumn and see what transpires. If they tame up a bit over the winter, give us some nice butchers lambs and raise them without hassle, they're earning their keep. If they continue to be wild and difficult, they'll go in the freezer at the same time as their lambs, and we'll start again.
 
The Zwartbles complicate things a little though. They're this year's lambs, born Feb/Mar so I wasn't planning to tup them until next year. However, they are actually bigger than the manxes, and my neighbour says he'd definitely tup them this year.
 
This gives me two options:
 
1) Get a Zwartble tup lamb to cover both the Z's and the Manxs (Might this give me problems with both their and my first time lambing?)
2) Put both the Z's and Manxs to a commercial tup. (Seems a bit of a waste to cross breed expensive pedigree Zwartbles, since if we bred pure we could keep the ewe lambs for breeding. I should say that a Manx tup is not an option - I can't take the risk on him jumping our fences and getting in with next door's RHS winning Beltex!).
 
What would you do?
 
P.S. Nobody's answered the poll yet!  ;D
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 11:05:36 am by Womble »
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

marka

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Moray, NE Scotland
  • www.facebook.com/WellsideCroft
    • Facebook
Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2014, 10:59:24 am »

Notwithstanding any associated complications ( first time lambings etc ), then I would get a Zwartble tup to cover both them and the ML's - as you say seems a waste to cross breed.

Regards

mark
Castlemilk Moorit sheep and Belted Galloway cattle, plus other hangers on.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2014, 12:04:45 pm »
I've done the poll and I answer to my vote to get the marksman  :D

I have experience of just two lots of manx.  My brother had half a dozen bought for meat and they were wild.  Mr F sheared them but it was a huge effort to catch the b*****$ and the actual shearing was not easy.  Later we both rounded them up for the abattoir , with plenty of help (but not my brother who always managed to be 'busy' somewhere else)  In the end they had to be caught by throwing electranet over them (not energised obviously) and jumping on them, then manhandling them into the trailer.  Phew - exhausting.  Never again. Could have done with the trident to go with the net  :innocent:

The second lot were a wether and 3 shearling ewes we bought, as I thought they would complement our Hebs, having the same origins.   Even the wether was a total pain, bossing around my non-breeding old ladies til we stuck him in with the tups who soon put him in his place.  The females were horrible bullies, shoving my other breeds around, not letting them near the feed and always heading the breakaway when we tried to round them up.  Serendipitously, someone came to buy a Heb tup and bought the Manx ewes as well and took them far far away to join another flock.   And after all that, the fleece wasn't anything like as lovely as I'd expected.

Hence - get in a marksman  :-J

Seriously I don't think they will calm down enough to be mild mannered and manageable, although it is worth persevering until they have raised lambs.
To tame them down a bit and make them more catchable, you need to get them into a much smaller pasture where they can at least become used to your presence.  Chasing them around will never end up with them caught, so calmly driving them into the other pasture might work (if you have such a place).  Sometimes it works just to leave the gate open into the other pasture then go out of sight (sheep read human body language with great skill, so they will know the instant you leave the house that you want to catch them).  They might go in straight away or you might have to leave them for a couple of days until they feel confident to wander in.  Don't let them see you go to close the gate, don't run to do it, and don't do it if they can reach the gate before you do  :D  You have to get a system for catching them, even if it's just to tag their lambs, but they will also need at least flystrike prevention (if the flies can catch them  :D), possible worming depending on your land, and to be holdable for emergency treatments

Sorry, but although I love Manx on principle for their rarity, their history, their appearance, they are definitely not for me.

The only qualifier I would add, is that the fact that they did eat out of your hands once offers a tiny ray of hope.  Was the flock they came from well handled and tame?  If so, then perhaps they just need to get used to you and their new surroundings, then you can tell me how wrong I am  :sheep:

« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 12:11:25 pm by Fleecewife »
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Jukes Mum

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • North Yorkshire
Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2014, 01:00:23 pm »
Food- the answer to all life's problems :-)
Feed them in your pen in winter and let them get used to you moving around them. They may never be tame, but at least you can get close enough for a good look at them.
Don’t Monkey With Another Monkey’s Monkey

Hellybee

  • Joined Feb 2010
    • www.blaengwawrponies.co.uk
Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2014, 01:08:55 pm »
Don't know much about these naughty Manx sheep, but I find our ram lambs come weaning are far more forward than the ewe lambs, braver more inquisitive, the girls are far more scatty. 

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2014, 01:17:25 pm »
Don't know much about these naughty Manx sheep, but I find our ram lambs come weaning are far more forward than the ewe lambs, braver more inquisitive, the girls are far more scatty.

We have Coloured Ryelands and I'd second that. Ours do settle down one they have lambed too. But most Ryelands are never that flighty.

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2014, 01:36:08 pm »
I thought they would complement our Hebs, having the same origins.

Are you saying that Manxs are inherently more wild than Hebs / CM / Shetland etc then?  I had expected them all to be much of a wild muchness!?
 
And after all that, the fleece wasn't anything like as lovely as I'd expected.

That's interesting. To my untrained eye, the Manx fleeces look fantastic - lovely colour, and ever so soft. However I'm not a spinner, so don't really know what to look for. Also seeing as I'm not a spinner, I'm still at a loss as to what to do with them in any case!  ;D
"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
Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2014, 02:25:10 pm »
Womble, I answered the poll within minutes, before my first Reply.  Have you clicked 'View Results' ? ;)

My Manxes had the most incredibly soft fleeces last year, but so short!  (They'd been clipped late the year I bought them, I think.)  So I was really looking forward to getting their fleeces this year - and they are disappointing.  :(

They are bossy girls, yes.  Being horned they can dominate any other sheep, and they do make sure they get the best of the feed.  So I am not sure it's a good idea to run Manxes and non-horned sheep together - although mine do all seem to manage okay now.

Pricket is a ringleader, yes.  If there's an escape, she will be one of the escapees.  100% of the time.

But wild these are not.  The pic was fairly early on with them - they will practically get in my pockets now ::)


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

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2014, 02:44:22 pm »
I thought they would complement our Hebs, having the same origins.

Are you saying that Manxs are inherently more wild than Hebs / CM / Shetland etc then?  I had expected them all to be much of a wild muchness!?
 
And after all that, the fleece wasn't anything like as lovely as I'd expected.

That's interesting. To my untrained eye, the Manx fleeces look fantastic - lovely colour, and ever so soft. However I'm not a spinner, so don't really know what to look for. Also seeing as I'm not a spinner, I'm still at a loss as to what to do with them in any case!  ;D

Shetlands are not usually wild, in fact they can be very sedate, unless they are not handled, for example within a large flock on the hill.   I don't know about castlemilk moorits.  With Hebs I would say it depends almost totally on how you handle them, plus a bit on how old they are.  Maybe the Manxes I got were just mad and others of the same breed are not.  They do get shown, so those individuals will be handleable. It's just my personal experience I'm quoting - I'm sure others have wonderful, tame, easy to handle Manx, I just haven't met them  ;D

The Manx wether I bought had a lovely soft fleece at 4 months and as you say a beautiful colour.  By shearing time however it was a bit brillo-pad-like.  I had heard Manx had wonderful fleeces and mine did not. I didn't choose the ewes, which came from a long way away and were delivered. There is a lot of variation between fleece quality within a single breed, as well as between breeds, within the primitives.  Fleece quality can also change within one single animal over time, so successive fleeces will not be identical.  If your fleeces are good then there will be a good market for clean, well-presented fleeces amongst spinners and felters.  Not all useable fleece has to be super soft and fine though - for someone making rugs or tough outerwear then a soft fleece is the last thing they want. If you are advertising them for sale then be honest about the quality - if they are coarse then say they are ideal for rug weaving and peg looming  :thumbsup:

You have to decide if you want to support a British rare Breed, or an imported one.  Zwartbles are much bigger than Manx but from a distance (ie I've not handled one) they look much more docile, and you will get a greater weight of meat from them.  Manx meat however will be delicious, and yours will definitely be well exercised to grow good muscle  :D
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Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

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Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
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Re: Will they ever tame up?
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2014, 05:33:09 pm »
I bought 8 Llanwenog  ewe lambs last spring ...  wild!!  Added  8  older ewes used to the bucket about 4 months later and (most) of the originals are now easy to handle.... why does everyone suggest you start with gimmers?
Linda

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