Fall is a welcome break for sheep and goats. Cooler weather and shorter days are a relief for animals as much as people. Fall also ushers in breeding season and is a great time to perform seasonal maintenance for each animal on your farm. Delaying flock maintenance can cause a multitude of issues including careless breeding and anemia.
Take time now to follow these steps for the health of your sheep this fall.
Check each animal’s eyelids for signs of anemia (usually from parasites).
Hooves should be trimmed at least once a year. Especially muddy seasons require trimming more often. Check for hoof rot and overgrown nails.
Examine Mouth for Sores
Common viruses cause mouth sores in sheep and can spread among the flock. Make sure they don’t show any signs of blisters or infection in their mouths and in their teeth.
Check wool for any wool break, often a sign of stress or lice. Malnutrition also causes wool break. If you notice patches of wool missing, determine the cause and, if necessary, treat the problem.
Make sure and gather all the medication you might need before catching the animals and be prepared to give right away. Having all medicines within your reach will save you time and frustration if you notice any of them actually need to be administered. Consult your veterinarian for dosage.
Here are a few medications we keep on hand for fall flock maintenance.
- Covexin (broad spectrum vaccination)
- Use a wormer if they have signs of parasites.
- Antibiotics for any infection on mouth, hooves or anywhere else
- Vitamin B12 could be used if they show signs of weight loss and need a boost.
Separate the males and females. This will allow you the time and ability to flush feed the females before turning them back to the males for breeding. Flush feeding gives the females’ bodies the best chance for a viable and healthy pregnancy. Flush feeding also creates the optimal chance for multiple pregnancies.
Know Your Timeline
A sheep’s gestation period is 152 days. It is not advised to have lambs in the harshest period of winter. Keeping your males and females sorted will help inform your timeline. The end of February is the earliest we plan to start lambing season.
Once you are ready to turn your females back to the males, sort them according to breed to ensure the lambs you hope to produce.