PHOTO: Sue Weaver
May 5, 2014

We have two new sheep on our farm. One is a young ewe named Tansy and the other is her newborn daughter, Pasha. They’re hair sheep—a mixture of Katahdin and Dorper.

Last Friday, Mom and Dad went to a farm to pick up some hay, and the man selling the hay said one of his ewes just gave birth to a brand-new lamb. Mom walked over to see them. It was love at first sight.

Mom is usually picky about how and where she buys new animals, unless they’re rescues and she absolutely has to take them in. She told herself to be sensible—she didn’t need more sheep—but it didn’t work. When the man said he was dispersing his flock because he couldn’t take good care of them over the winter months, Mom knew she had to have that sheep. Mom’s 67th birthday is coming up soon, so she told Dad the sheep would make a perfect birthday present. The later that day, they went back and got the ewe and her lamb.

Helping Sheep Adjust to a New Farm - Photo by Sue Weaver (
Sue Weaver

There are good things and bad things about the way Mom made this purchase. She usually buys new sheep from breeders who test for serious sheep diseases, like ovine progressive pneumoniaJohne’s disease and caseous lympadenitis. However, buying from a private owner rather than at a sale barn is a good idea. It’s easy to buy sick livestock at sale barns, and even if they aren’t sick, they’re exposed to disease.

Because Tansy’s lamb had just been born and was still very small, Mom and Dad put her inside of an airline crate placed inside the covered goat tote when they brought the sheep home. That way, Tansy could see her lamb but wouldn’t accidently step on her baby while she was excited. The nice man and Dad locked hands behind Tansy and boosted her up into the goat tote. Tansy was scared, but she didn’t get hurt.

Helping Sheep Adjust to a New Farm - Photo by Sue Weaver (
Sue Weaver

Now Tansy and Pasha are in quarantine. No matter where new animals come from, they should be kept away from existing livestock for at least two weeks—a month is even better. They need a comfy, safe spot where they can see other animals but can’t interact, nose to nose.

Helping Sheep Adjust to a New Farm - Photo by Sue Weaver (
Sue Weaver

Because lambing causes an internal parasite bloom (that means worms, especially barber pole worms go crazy laying eggs), Dad dewormed Tansy as soon as she reached our farm. He also gave Tansy and Pasha an immunity booster product called Bovi Sera. Tansy got a shot, but because Pasha is a newborn, her gut is still absorbing antibodies from her mom’s colostrum, so receives the Bovi Sera orally. Dad used a syringe without a needle on it to squirt Bovi Sera on the back of her tongue.

Once everyone was treated, Mom and Dad took the new sheep to their stall to settle in. Mom and Dad left the airline crate in the stall so baby Pasha could go inside it if she wanted to. Goat kids and lambs love hidey holes to sleep in.

Helping Sheep Adjust to a New Farm - Photo by Sue Weaver (
Sue Weaver

Tansy is getting tamer every day. Hair sheep are meat sheep, but Mom and Dad are vegetarians, so Tansy and Pasha are safe. Katahdins, however, are fairly good milk sheep, too, so Mom thinks she’ll breed Tansy to one of our Miniature Cheviot rams this winter and milk her next year. Will Mom like milking a sheep? I guess we’ll see!They took the seller’s collar off of Tansy because they were afraid she might snag it on something and hurt herself. Tansy was really scared. Mom and Dad sat quietly and talked softly to her. Eventually she calmed down enough to timidly nibble feed from their hands.


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