Saturday, July 7, 2007

Meds and Pedicures

Yesterday we spent a majority of the day working with the sheep. We've lost a few lambs to worms, and so it was time to worm them. While we were handling them, we decided to give some of them a pedicure (hoof trimming).

We've been trying to do things in a more natural fashion, moving in the direction of organic farming. Here's a perfect example of the struggle between organic and conventional farming. We have our ewes and lambs out on pasture as soon as the grass will support them in the spring. It's a WONDERFUL thing. They feed themselves. They are designed to eat grass. They just THRIVE on the lush spring pastures. But there are parasites, and the sheep (especially the little lambs) will die from them. We've even lost a couple of ewes this year.

In theory, it sounds nice to be able say we raise our lambs naturally, without chemicals. But when "naturally" leads to death, how is that humane? Or profitable?

On the other hand, dosing every single sheep with meds for worms, whether or not they have a problem, leads to drug-resistant parasites. So we choose the middle road--dosing those who look unwell, and leaving the rest untreated. It may mean we'll have to handle them more often during the summer/fall, but it's the best that we can do.



Here The Farmer is checking an eartag so we can record who is being dosed and who is not. The ewe is in a chute with a door that goes up and down. When we are ready to work on the next sheep, The Farmer pushes down on the spring-loaded door with his foot.

We trim the hooves of those who need it with hoof trimmers that look like pruning shears. When a sheep is all done, we release it and this is its reaction:

1 comment:

  1. We've been chatting about this issue a little at the Lamp Post -- Cheryl's been there sometimes as well so there are no ax murderers or anything.

    www.lamp-post.net/forum

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