Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Taming Ouessants  (Read 2712 times)

wannabesmallholder

  • Joined Jan 2017
Taming Ouessants
« on: April 06, 2017, 10:32:56 pm »
Good evening
Our 3 ouessant ladies arrived with us in February. After a lot of research into breeds we went for ouessants because of them being small and easy to handle, hardy and have seen them described in many places as being confident and friendly and easy to tame.

I love our girls and are really happy with them, but must admit they are not as tame as I had hoped. They will run over to us when we come into the field and follow us around (hoping for food obviously!), but we can't really get near them. One will very tentatively take food from our hand, but the moment you move your hand to try to stroke her or anything, she'll take fright. The other two won't come within touching distance. The first few times I had to round them up, I did it easily on my own, getting them into a corner with a bucket and then bringing hurdles round them. But they're wise to that now and the moment they see the hurdles they run for the hills!

Now I know sheep are "farm animals" really, but ours are pets and I was hoping they'd be fun for the children, and that they'd be able to stroke them and feed them etc. I see pictures of other people doing this so it must be possible with sheep right? Plus, I'd really like to be able to get hold of them more easily so we can do checks for blowfly etc without having to have a major rounding up mission!

So how does anyone (who is prepared to humour me with the "cuddly pet sheep" ideal) have any advice for getting them more tame? We are currently feeding them a handful of food each almost every day as they are in lamb, but that will probably stop once the grass is really here as don't want them fat. They won't come near enough for treats from the hand. Am quite prepared to put in work to "tame" them, but not sure how to do it!

roddycm

  • Joined Jul 2013
Re: Taming Ouessants
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2017, 10:56:31 pm »
Feeding treats is always a good idea and then just give it time... when they have lambs the lambs will come up to you if you spend time with them while you feed the mothers etc and then once they do remember that sheep would rather have a scratch than a pat or a stroke. once they realise how good your fingers are at scratching you will not be able to get rid of them!

As for handling for duties like feet and worming etc its a really good idea to feed them in the hurdles as often as you can without doing anything to them at all... just bring them in feed them and let them out that way they dont just associate it with things they don't like. They are small sheep too so its good to try to get down to their level, they will feel more secure face to face at this taming stage... the more time you spend with them the tamer they will get. Now that the weather is improving you can even just sit in the paddock with them and read a book haha... this will be more effective if its not a huge field that they can be miles away from you.

I am sure they will do just fine, sounds like you are already half way there and building from that base (as I said before) the lambs will be much tamer :) Good luck and do post some pics! Love ouessants!

wannabesmallholder

  • Joined Jan 2017
Re: Taming Ouessants
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2017, 06:51:54 am »
Oh thank you that's so helpful!

Great idea about feeding them in the hurdles - although rounding them up is not easy, especially as its usually just me and the kids! Will wait til after lambing as really don't want to be chasing pregnant ewes around the paddock at this stage!

The problem is they are so wary of our hands, so can't get on them to give them a scratch or a treat! The children are so keen, but they don't really help as are prone to making sudden movements and not good at sitting and waiting from the girls to come to them! We will be out in the paddock much more now the weather is picking up, as that's where or veg patch and orchard is, so hopefully they will just get used to having us around.

As an aside, is this not particularly tameness going to be a problem with my plan for outdoor lambing? If the ewe needs help, am I actually going to be able to get near her.... now having visions of ewe running around field with lamb poking out....  :-\

Not sure if the attachment will work, but here's a pic of the girls. Ever since some orphan lambs made a visit to nursery, my two year old has been trying to tempt them with his water bottle! 


kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Taming Ouessants
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2017, 08:10:00 am »
Yeeesss welll the breed is known to many as quite flighty but it is possible to get them very tame with good handling and familiarity, to be honest it depends on how they have been raised to a degree as well as a little effort on your part.
Ewes are very often more wary and I tend to place castrates in homes where hands on contact is wanted. Males are more forward generally and without the hormonal influence castrates make very good pets.
As for lambing..... the breed is really pretty much hands off, if a ewe can't lamb by herself then  its generally more than a  little help thats needed, this will necessitate  more than likely a caesarian  as much more than fingertip maneoverability isn't generally possible due to their size. . of course people can't help assisting where it really isn't necessary if they are in close proximity.
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

wannabesmallholder

  • Joined Jan 2017
Re: Taming Ouessants
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2017, 09:10:23 am »
Thank you @kanisha That's massively reassuringly especially knowing how much experience you have with the breed. Most of the people I know around here have the bigger commercial breeds and look at me as if I've gone totally mad when I say I'm leaving them to lamb outside and hoping they'll "get in with it themselves". I can see them thinking "she doesn't have a clue what she's talking about", and as a beginner I was starting to doubt myself. But what you've said is very much in line with the approach I was planning, so fingers crossed and thanks for making me feel a bit more confident!

Buttermilk

  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: Taming Ouessants
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2017, 09:16:42 am »
Don't chase them into the hurdles just put the feed inside and stand back to begin with.  Once they get used to the feed being in the hurdles get closer each feed, then start to close the gap up.  Let them eat then open it for out so that they have to pass you.  It should not take too long for them to be reasonably happy penned up for a few minutes, then you can offer treats over the hurdles.  You will get there.

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Taming Ouessants
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2017, 09:29:14 am »
In the past we've sold Southdowns to folks who wanted sheep their children could care for with and had tried and failed with Ouessants and Lleyns.....  Once they lamb get the children to sit still and quiet near the lambs and if the ewes are nervous then the children must back away until the ewes relax.  The sheep know that humans are a predatory race (forward pointing eyes to measure distance before they pounce) so look to one side when you approach.  Also talk continually in a low and gentle voice - predators are always silent when they spring.

laurelrus

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Quainton,Buckinghamshire
  • Hobby farmer
Re: Taming Ouessants
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2017, 12:35:35 pm »
We have three pet Ouessants, we had no experience of sheep when we got them almost 3 years ago, and they are super tame and friendly. We got them used to treats in a bucket and they're definitely food motivated, very similar to Labradors! It didn't take very long and now they happily stand to be stroked.
For feet and other maintenance we get them into their house (a small stable) and shut the bottom door then bring them out one at a time and they happily stand on a garden table while one of us does what needs to be done and the other makes sure they don't leap off. Treats help there as well!
 For us at least they have been the perfect starter sheep!
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 12:37:43 pm by laurelrus »
2 pygmy goats, 3 Ouessant sheep, 19 chickens, 2 donkeys, 2 Shetland ponies and 2 dogs

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Taming Ouessants
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2017, 04:11:34 pm »
Using feed for motivation might works for an Ouessant but it can turn a larger sheep into a real nightmare, waiting to mug you every time you enter the field.

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Taming Ouessants
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2017, 04:36:18 pm »
good point but unless you are dealing with a ram in which case I think the same would hold true for any breed (  although they may only kneecap you instead of killing you outright) getting mugged by a Ouessant maybe a bit of a pain but its not a huge issue.
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

 

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Energy Helpline Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Ark Farm Livestock Movement Service

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2022. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS