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Author Topic: Tails and breed standards  (Read 1735 times)

PipKelpy

  • Joined Mar 2019
  • North Shropshire
  • Dreamer with docile cow and sheep!
Tails and breed standards
« on: June 21, 2022, 07:35:06 am »
On googling several sites about Torwen & Black Welshmountains, I notice the ads (few and far between) tails are visible.

Are breeders of these breeds NOT allowed to dock or something?

Some of my first sheep (bought years after "inheriting" a small flock) were GreyFaced Dartmoor with tails as the breeder said she didn't believe in it (didn't believe in ringing the tups either!) These GFD introduced me to the joys of flystrike!

Ever since, tails have been a big no! The Shetlands I noticed had nothing to worry about, something that mainly carried over when I crossed them onto either of my tups, Dorset Down and Bleu Du Maine.

Also, question for those in the know, is there much of a size difference between Shetland, BWM and Torwen? Weight descriptions don't really mean much as I have a homebred DD X Shetland and she's heavier than she looks!
Halter train the cattle to keep them quiet but watch your back when they come a'bulling! Give them all names even those you plan to eat. Always be calm. Most importantly, invest in wellies with steel toe caps and be prepared for the clever cow who knows where the toe caps end!!

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2022, 10:24:22 am »
Docking is not acceptable for Torwens. Don't know about BWM, but I suspect it's probably the same?
"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
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2022, 05:22:59 pm »
Genuine hill / mountain ewes need the tail to keep the developing udder protected in bad weather, and in some cases for fat storage they can use in hard times.  It is said a Swaledale can live for a fortnight on the fat in her tail, as they are often found alive when snow drifts melt after a couple of weeks.
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

Bywaters

  • Joined Apr 2016
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2022, 06:14:34 pm »
Breed standard for WHite faced Woodlands is tups have tails, ewes docked (ringed as < 24 hours old lambs ) but covering all her bits up (and we add a few inches to that)
Native to the pennines so genuine hill breed

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2022, 08:49:28 am »
Breed standard for WHite faced Woodlands is tups have tails, ewes docked (ringed as < 24 hours old lambs ) but covering all her bits up (and we add a few inches to that)
Native to the pennines so genuine hill breed

Native to a hilly place yes, but I think not kept out on the hill ( / mountain / moorland) more of a hardy type kept in bye or in coombes and dingles etc (hence Woodland)?  Otherwise I am at a loss as to why the ewe would have her tail docked!  The tup perhaps needs his tail to keep his jewels warm enough to work, even in the depths of winter?  I hadn't ever thought about that aspect before! 
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

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2022, 09:48:37 am »
I keep Torddu Badger Face and Hill Radnors, both breed standard are long tails.

Until I started keeping sheep I never realised they had long tails and were docked, I think I always thought they were born short!!

As mentioned the idea is that the tail protects the udder in harsher weather conditions where they would originally have been grazed. Mine arenít on a mountain but I obvs still keep tails long as we keep a pedigree flock. I would assume Welsh Mountains are the same although - Iíll keep an eye out next time Iím out as there are some around here.

Only had maggots in a couple of tails the whole time Iíve had the sheep, and thatís been in lambs.

Tim W

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2022, 06:44:33 am »
Not relevant to breed standards but---
Q: Why does anyone dock tails?
The usual answer is something to do with maggots/daggs
The real reason is probably fashion & tradition

I would argue that
1) I would want a long tail to swish away flies
2) Dirty tails are more due to faeces texture and wool type  than tail length---a clean /bare/short woolled tail with selection for daggs would give a simple and less painful genetic solution?

(Tail length, dagginess are both very heritable traits)

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2022, 08:03:25 am »


I would argue that
1) I would want a long tail to swish away flies



The only thing with that is when they swish tails to get rid of flies you always wonder if itís maggots instead 😂

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2022, 09:24:56 am »
Not relevant to breed standards but---
Q: Why does anyone dock tails?
The usual answer is something to do with maggots/daggs
The real reason is probably fashion & tradition

I would argue that
1) I would want a long tail to swish away flies
2) Dirty tails are more due to faeces texture and wool type  than tail length---a clean /bare/short woolled tail with selection for daggs would give a simple and less painful genetic solution?

(Tail length, dagginess are both very heritable traits)

I would wholeheartedly agree that we should all be breeding for traits which mitigate against fly strike.  Which in my experience (of small numbers of a fair few breeds and huge numbers of a small handful of breeds) would mean using a lot of Manx in our breeding programmes (although the only strike I have ever had in a Manx or Manx cross was on a horn bed, so maybe we would also have to go polled, or select for smoother horns and select out some of the specific shapes which are more likely to get damaged and so attract flies.) 

My own breeding standards are to not breed from any ewe which has had fly strike or which require dagging when others do not - unless it's Quincy my black Wensleydale  ::).  She and her descendants do cause us 85% of our work - but their fleeces and personalities are worth it!  However, if I was running a bigger flock and/or could not rely on experienced, capable shepherding, I would have to remove all those lines from the flock. 

It is our Wenseys and descendants alone which we now have to dock; every other sheep in the flock has the northern shorttail "fluke-shaped" tail.   In addition, most of those with a lot of Shetland in the mix self-shear around the tail and rump early on in the season. 

I left one of Quincy's lambs long-tailed, and I will never stop regretting it.  He had the softest fleece of any of her offspring, but that long woolly tail and the line's propensity to need dagging several times a year were a bad combination.  I caught the strike before any real harm was done, and in truth I had had "dag Bumper" on my To Do list for a few days when it happened so I could have avoided it, but because I could not rule out it happening again and with a worse outcome, I sent him off and have docked any long-tailed Quincy descendants since. 

An alternative to docking maybe could be to crutch those sheep very close early on, before the flies start.  But I am not a huge fan of preventative crutching, because if they do then get a mucky bum, you haven't enough wool growth to cut through to clean them up. 

Lots of other factors can help keep bums clean...  Stay on top of worms; give mineral drenches; manage grazing so that those with a propensity to mucky bums are not on lush, fresh grazing; etc.  But you can never manage your way out of all dirty bums, you can only nearly achieve that through breeding. 
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

PipKelpy

  • Joined Mar 2019
  • North Shropshire
  • Dreamer with docile cow and sheep!
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2022, 12:18:21 pm »
Not relevant to breed standards but---
Q: Why does anyone dock tails?
The usual answer is something to do with maggots/daggs
The real reason is probably fashion & tradition

I would argue that
1) I would want a long tail to swish away flies
2) Dirty tails are more due to faeces texture and wool type  than tail length---a clean /bare/short woolled tail with selection for daggs would give a simple and less painful genetic solution?

(Tail length, dagginess are both very heritable traits)

I would wholeheartedly agree that we should all be breeding for traits which mitigate against fly strike.  Which in my experience (of small numbers of a fair few breeds and huge numbers of a small handful of breeds) would mean using a lot of Manx in our breeding programmes (although the only strike I have ever had in a Manx or Manx cross was on a horn bed
REALLY chuffed when I read that! When I bought in the Shetlands in 2004 (I think) they all came in lamb to a Manx. I CANNOT recall one Shetland OR Manx X that went down with Flystrike! And the fluke shaped tails were fab. I loved those sheep! A lot had to go only because I lost the use of 20+ acres but the remaining sheep were brilliant. I would definitely get Shetlands again if I could find some with less fluffy, or showy fleeces, just like my original mob!

I did actually think about getting shut of ALL lambs this year, but one thing I noticed is none had dirty bums and they've always had the best grass. Even the shearer passed comment, how clean they all were.

Will have to hope they keep clean butts!

Just to add, those first Shetlands, the bulk were the most skitty, demented, crack pot little beggers you have ever seen! Fans of "primitive" sheep probably pleased! But they were hardy and the ones I kept, fabulous lambers, easily to both my boys, their off spring too. Short tight fleeces so probably NOT as highly bred as the showy type. Now the 2nd batch (my own fault I suppose) registered, certificates, every thing as it should be....... But for lambing not really. After lambing one of them 3 years in a row, brother in law said "get rid, pedigree isn't everything". Beautiful ewe though!


« Last Edit: June 25, 2022, 03:30:01 pm by PipKelpy »
Halter train the cattle to keep them quiet but watch your back when they come a'bulling! Give them all names even those you plan to eat. Always be calm. Most importantly, invest in wellies with steel toe caps and be prepared for the clever cow who knows where the toe caps end!!

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2022, 12:26:17 pm »
Soays have the short tail of many Primitives.  Does it prevent dags and fly strike? As Sally says, the tendency to  :poo:  sticking to the tail etc is heavily genetic. We had one family of Soays who all had daggy tails a bit like a Thaggamiser (think Stegasaurus) and occasionally we would find a very dead maggot trapped in the ball of muck. I can't remember now if any ever had strike, perhaps a mucky lamb. The rest of the flock all had immaculate little tails.
We also keep Hebrideans which must not have their tails docked for breed description. They are nominally Northern Short tailed sheep, and they have tails which must not extend beyond the hock.  It is believed they have the same number of tail vertebrae as Shetlands, Soay and Gotland etc but I don't think anyone has actually counted. Hebs don't tend to get strike in their tails although it could happen if scouring.
Jacobs naturally have long tails but are usually docked.  We never docked ours which caused raised eyebrows in Jacob circles back then, but I think more people are realising now that it is management of worms, feeding etc and not overstocking which influence dagginess.
There were a large number of daggy sheep in the fields around us before the weather dried up this year. I wonder if dagginess is also associated with sheep strip fed on crops such as turnip, where they are on wet mud and often soaked from the belly down?  I wonder if turnips  cause a tendency to scour? I've never fed them although we have used mangolds with no adverse effects.
I think I'm now waffling  :thinking: :roflanim:
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Bywaters

  • Joined Apr 2016
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2022, 11:36:21 am »


"Native to a hilly place yes, but I think not kept out on the hill ( / mountain / moorland) more of a hardy type kept in bye or in coombes and dingles etc (hence Woodland)? "

Pennines are full of hills and yes, kept out on them.
Alternative name is Penistones as the main breed market was there. Woodlands is after the vale of Woodland in Derbyshire. There are quite a few all over the UK, but mainly concentrated on the Pennines (quantity of animals, not number of flocks) .

I can only imagine that the tails are docked on the ewes for ease of access by the tups as well as to avoid flystrike when loose or scouring. The few ewes that I have had who havn't been docked have been more likley to have gone into second cycle

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2022, 04:32:40 pm »


"Native to a hilly place yes, but I think not kept out on the hill ( / mountain / moorland) more of a hardy type kept in bye or in coombes and dingles etc (hence Woodland)? "

Pennines are full of hills and yes, kept out on them.
Alternative name is Penistones as the main breed market was there. Woodlands is after the vale of Woodland in Derbyshire. There are quite a few all over the UK, but mainly concentrated on the Pennines (quantity of animals, not number of flocks) .

I can only imagine that the tails are docked on the ewes for ease of access by the tups as well as to avoid flystrike when loose or scouring. The few ewes that I have had who havn't been docked have been more likley to have gone into second cycle

I farmed Swaledales in the Northumberland National Park.  They are crutched (upper third of their very long tails shorn) 7-10 days before the tups go out.  We were told that less than 7 days before, and the regrowth is prickly and might put the tup off!  Ours routinely gave 95%+ took and held first cycle.
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

Tim W

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2022, 06:31:01 am »




I can only imagine that the tails are docked on the ewes for ease of access by the tups as well as to avoid flystrike when loose or scouring. The few ewes that I have had who havn't been docked have been more likley to have gone into second cycle

Very few animals docked here for many years , 800 ewes and 85% lambing 1st cycle ---100% lamb in 28 days ---3% barren rolling average over the last 16 years

Buttermilk

  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: Tails and breed standards
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2022, 10:43:18 am »
Zwartbles is another breed that the standard says no docking.

The few cases of flystrike that my flock have had, never involved the tail area.

 

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