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Author Topic: Introducing new sheep  (Read 9977 times)

Blackbird

  • Joined Jul 2012
Introducing new sheep
« on: January 25, 2013, 03:12:28 pm »
I'm considering expanding my tiny flock (currently 1 x Shetland, 1 x Heb/Longwool cross and 3 x Grey Face Dartmoors).



They are for fleece, pony companions, grazing rotation and hobby, not meat. Fond as I am of my soppy GFDs, I'm thinking of a couple or three more Shetlands (beautiful fleece in natural colours, tough as old boots, characterful, easy to handle and do).


I'm going to see some potential additions tomorrow. :excited: Obviously I'll check they look healthy and have been vaccinated. Should I quarantine them for a few days when I get them? Any other precautions about introducing them to the other sheep? (my original 5 all arrived together from the same flock). Any thoughts gratefully received.
Where are we going - and why am I in this handcart?

FCA

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Introducing new sheep
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2013, 03:37:04 pm »
We had the same experience as you a couple of years ago.  We had 4 Zwartbles who all came together and were by then 9 years old.  We were asked to take on an almost blind, crooked headed Beulah Speckled Face.  We took one look at her and couldn't say no!  But we worried that she would be terrorised by our big 4 so we thought it would be better if she came with a friend.  So 2 young Beulah Speckled Faces arrived.  We quarantined them for a week, and then moved them so they could touch through a fence for another week.  Then we let them out.
Well if I hadn't been worried about heart attacks and broken legs it would have been funny!  The two young white ones went bananas chasing about the field and our poor old black ones didn't know what had hit them.  The new ones ran up to the old ones, who ran away.  So the white ones chased, and so it went on.  Maybe they didn't know they were sheep as well, I don't know.  But we had to separate them again and then introduce them in a supervised way, and in a small area so there could be no running about.  It took a while!
However, a couple of months ago we bought 4 new Zwartbles.  We quarantined again, for 2 weeks (a bit extreme maybe), and then put them all in together.  And nothing happened.  No running, no chasing, no head butting. 
So, my advice, incase there's going to be trouble put them together in a small area where you can intervene to break anything up.  Of course, there's probably be a school of thought that says put them all together and let them sort it out for themselves.  I just couldn't bear to watch!
Good luck!

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Introducing new sheep
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2013, 03:44:21 pm »
The general rule is quarantine for 3 weeks.  Always fear the worst, so unless you know the health/treatment history of their flock from the buyer, assume they have every bad thing under the sun, so treat for worms, fluke, lice and scab. :)  Oh and footbath too to prevent bringing foot rot onto your patch. :)
I would do something like - footbath immediately on unloading, and give Cydectin or Dectomax injection, which would cover worms and scab. Crovect at the same time to cover lice. Then, a week or two later, a flukicide.
I don't think I would worry too much about introducing the two groups, as long as they are in a big enough area to avoid each other if they want to.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Introducing new sheep
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2013, 04:49:58 pm »
I agree with foobar about length of quarantine.  You have to think about length of life cycle of parasites and diseases, then allow a margin beyond that.  It sounds a long time, but I wish I had done that in a couple of instances way back in the early days  :(
 
I always recommend worming new sheep as they go into the trailer, then make sure they are shut in somewhere overnight, so they have a total of 24 hours somewhere where you can clean up the bedding after them and burn it.  Everything else can be done while they are in quarantine.  Don't let them touch noses with your original stock until the three weeks are up.
 
For putting new sheep in with old, for females we just let them sort themselves out.  If you separate them again then they go back to square one - pecking order has to be established for all new animals.  The exception is tups as they can kill eachother, but I have never known ewes to damage eachother, except close to lambing, when it can be the lamb which is damaged.  It seems from observing that often the ewes which fight the most are the ones which end up best friends - I wonder if this is because they are of similar abilities so it takes longer to establish which one is boss, or that they are equal and therefore worthy of eachother  ;D .  Being different colours can make the problem worse - black will fight white more than sheep of identical colour and breed.
 
ps love the pics  :thumbsup:
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 04:53:39 pm by Fleecewife »
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Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Introducing new sheep
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2013, 02:34:53 pm »
I agree on the quarantine protocol.  We're lucky enough to have a neighbour who's retired from sheep keeping and we quarantine any new stock, (generally rams) for 6-12 weeks and get them onto our flock health plan.  It may help if you can put the newcomers in an adjacent field where they can see the resident sheep for a few days before mixing them together.

Blackbird

  • Joined Jul 2012
Re: Introducing new sheep
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2013, 06:25:04 pm »
Well, I bought 2 Shetland ewe lambs today who are arriving tomorrow. :excited: Many thanks all for your advice. I will put them in the paddock next to where they will eventually join the others so they can see each other, but with a line of electric netting so they can't touch for 3 weeks. The new lambs have been treated with Crovect and Dectomax but haven't been treated with flukicide or Heptavac'd. My existing 5 sheep have been vaccinated, so am guessing it is OK to wait until May when they will need re-vaccinating and then do all 7 at the same time? Their feet seem fine and they are in good condition and clearly very well cared for. Will post pictures when they arrive.
Where are we going - and why am I in this handcart?

Blackbird

  • Joined Jul 2012
Re: Introducing new sheep
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2013, 12:04:53 pm »
Here come the girls! Shetland ewe lambs. I'm sure the Shetland experts out there know more than me, but I believe they are black yuglet (Iris) and moorit flecket (Violet). Iris is a little timid, Violet is very confident and biffs around like she owns the place. Both seem very well and have been well cared-for by their previous owner. My existing Shetland ewe, Snowdrop, is calling and calling to them through the fence but they just ignore her! Perhaps they don't have the same dialect...

Where are we going - and why am I in this handcart?

Bionic

  • Joined Dec 2010
  • Talley, Carmarthenshire
Re: Introducing new sheep
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2013, 01:41:05 pm »
Oh, they look lovely  :thumbsup:
Life is like a bowl of cherries, mostly yummy but some dodgy bits

 
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