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Author Topic: Tail Docking lambs (again)  (Read 7070 times)

happyharry

  • Joined Jun 2014
Tail Docking lambs (again)
« on: March 02, 2015, 07:29:11 pm »
I've scanned similar threads on this forum, from the past couple of years, but can't find an answer to my query so here goes:

We shall be lambing in 3 weeks or so (Easycare ewes x Texel ram).
Some lambs will be slaughtered during the autumn whilst others will be over wintered, then fattened on some new leys, then slaughtered next May - July.

I understand all of the animal welfare issues surrounding castration and tail docking but my inclination is to carry out both procedures on all lambs at 24-48 hours of age, providing they are fit and healthy.

1. Any thoughts on this, as a general policy

2.  Do I use the same rubber rings and applicator for both procedures ?

devonlad

  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Nr Crediton in Devon
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2015, 07:40:23 pm »
1 Thoughts? Fine with docking tails and we tend to do it as young as possible- as soon as they're well mothered up and feeding properly. Castration is always an ordeal !! Although its better done younger and illegal after 7 days we're sure that sometimes if the nuggets are too small they pass back through. I HATE castration and if we had more land to keep them separate would never do it. 2 yes use same for both

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2015, 07:42:42 pm »
Castration gets discussed frequently, so you can read up previous threads for all the arguments pro and con.

My own vote, in your situation, would be to castrate.

Provided you leave sufficient tail to cover the anus fully, and the lady parts in ewe lambs, most commercial farmers think it's better to dock.  If you don't dock you will need to keep on top of runny bums and mucky fleece or suffer the consequences in flystrike.  You will also need to dag and crutch thoroughly when you send your lambs off.

And yes, you use the same rings for castrating and docking.
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 cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

mowhaugh

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Scottish Borders
    • Facebook
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2015, 09:03:23 pm »
1) I think that's completely fine as a policy.
2) Yes, same kit.

Buffy the eggs layer

  • Joined Jun 2010
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2015, 06:32:39 am »
I agree with all the above. I doc tails with rubber rings but dont castrate. As others have said the the earlier the better for both. I fing that even 12 hours after birth the lambs clearly feel the tightening of the rings on their tails though admittedly this sensation is brief.


Castration is tricky as both testicles may not have come down and if you dont know how to position the lamb and ensure both balls are in the ring you can easily end up with a "rigg" who is capable of reproducing.


I keep my ram lambs entire because....,
they are a docile, bidable breed
I can  put them in with the adult rams when they reach puberty
They have the potential to be sold as breeding rams
I think they finish better
I slaughter them before 12 months so the testosterone does not effect the meat.


I realise that you have commercial crosses which will finish quicker than my sheep so you could keep them entire and butcher the males this year as they finish and run your ewe lambs on to next summer.
A couple of  lengths of electric sheep netting, a leisure battery and an energiser would enable you to section off your grazing and hang on to the ram lambs post puberty. 


Just a thought......... :thinking:

princesslayer

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Tadley, Hants
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2015, 07:31:15 am »
Hijacking slightly, but how determined will the ram lambs be to cover their mothers/sisters? Is stock net enough, or od it need to be electric? I'd rather avoid castrating if possible.
Keeper of Jacob sheep, several hens, Michael the Cockerel and some small children.

devonlady

  • Joined Aug 2014
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2015, 08:24:28 am »
I think the old style of castration was far kinder on the lamb and, these days with antibiotic spray would be better than seeing a lamb writhing in pain. A cut with a razor sharp knife, a few moments of stinging surely better than a tight band around the scrotum until all feeling ceases, maybe hours later.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2015, 09:00:44 am »
I would not advise a newbie to castrate within the first 24 hours as a routine.  It's better to give the lambs a chance to get properly fed and warm and working.  When you're more experienced you can judge when the lamb is fit enough to be ringed ;)

If the sheep are outside, you also need to be sure the ewe is properly bonded, especially if she has twins, and double especially if one is a ewe lamb - or you can end up with her run off with one lamb and not coming back to collect the wee fella when he's up and running about again later.

Good stock fencing should keep entire males contained, depending on breed.  I wouldn't trust a primitive not to jump anything - and I wouldn't expect an electric fence to stop 'em jumping out, either ;)

The problem with the "they'll all be away before they're 12 months old" approach is that you must be able to manage when they aren't.  There could be a disease outbreak and standstills that prevent you getting them away; you may have a disease on your own farm that means they take longer to finish and/or you have to wait for withdrawal periods to end. 

Please consider the impact on the sheep-keepers around you should your boys get loose.  We've had a few threads this year about what to do when someone else's tup gets to your ewe lambs, and when a tup of the wrong breed has impregnated someone's ewes, and/or someone's else's tup has impregnated them earlier than the owner is geared up for lambing... ;)
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 cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Buffy the eggs layer

  • Joined Jun 2010
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2015, 09:12:53 am »
Hi Princess,


The way to think of young rams is as teenage boys. Some are more switched on than others. Some breeds are bigger and stronger, some no doubt more determined than other breeds. My adult rams for example never get stroppy with us even in the height of the mating season and never headbut us. Other breeds however need very careful handling all year round to avoid getting a serious injury.


By the time my males start to practice mounting around June time, the ewes are not yet cycling and dont take them seriously but any well developed ewe lambs could be reaching puberty and may be cycling for the first time. Shearlings of course fro the previous years lambing would be very susceptible. A blast from the electric fence at about 4 months of age works for my sheep and they remember it. If my power goes off they all still respect the fence. They are even cautious when I carry a roll of it through the field.


The best thing to do would be to ask a breeder who keeps the same type as you, as sheep vary greatly in their athleticism and disposition as well as their receptivity to breeding through the year or from an early age. It can be very easy to generalise or to think that what works for one person should work for everyone.


In my experience however I have found that a factor that will make an otherwise placid sheep break through a fence is fear / panic or hunger.

happyharry

  • Joined Jun 2014
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2015, 03:22:39 pm »
Thanks to everyone for their constructive and helpful comments

Most useful

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2015, 04:01:33 pm »
tail docking easy care sheep?  doesn't that defeat the object of them being easy care?


I would do neither if practical, but certainly not dock the tails.  If they can't keep their arses clean then cull 'em I say!

Porterlauren

  • Joined Apr 2014
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2015, 04:22:08 pm »
That's exactly how we do it, let them lamb, give them 24-48 hours to bond etc in lambing field, then drift off all of the lambed ewes, number the lambs, tail them, and castrate the ones we are not keeping entire, and weigh them, then push them through into next set of fields.

Ours are also shedders, but we dock because we get a higher price in mart for the whethers.

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2015, 05:06:00 pm »
My old boss used to say don't castrate until umbilical cord is dry and lamb is up and lively .... seems good advice to me
Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

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princesslayer

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Tadley, Hants
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2015, 08:14:00 pm »
Buffy, the minute you said 'think of them as teenage boys' I did a complete U turn and I'm back on castrating!  Their father was a bit of a soppy doofus, but I don't need to deal with a load of stroppy teenage tups, even if I can separate them.

I have an experienced shepherd friend who can help me and have made another contact on here who has offered to let me gain some experience there, so should be ok.

Thanks all  :thumbsup:
Keeper of Jacob sheep, several hens, Michael the Cockerel and some small children.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Tail Docking lambs (again)
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2015, 11:00:08 pm »
My old boss used to say don't castrate until umbilical cord is dry and lamb is up and lively .... seems good advice to me

I hesitate to augment anything from you, Linda ;) :notworthy:  :-J - but I would want to add 'and has had a bellyful of colustrum' to that list.  And maybe 'has passed its meconium' too.

I'd still rather wait till after 24 hours when possible - but depending on one's system, sometimes it's better to get it done even if it is sooner.  I think newbies might learn a few things the hard way if they castrate all their lambs within the first 12 hours - ask me how I know ;)
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 cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

 

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