Monday, August 30, 2010

Work Smarter, Not Harder

I think last week we achieved a new level of working smarter, not harder. A couple of times each summer we sort the lambs from their mothers and check all the sheep for parasites. We run them up the chute into the shearing area, which helps us handle them quickly and easily. This is a positive thing for them--who wants to stand in line for hours? They want to get back out to pasture as soon as they can.

Anyway, the chute and shearing area have always been a part of our sorting and handling. But this time The Farmer and his assistants set up a chute system to help sort the Suffolk sheep from the Polypay sheep after they've been checked for worms.

You see, it's almost time for breeding, and so we sorted the dark faced sheep from the white faced sheep. The Suffolks (dark-faced) are bred earlier, so that their lambs can be ready for kids to show in the July fairs.

So the Suffolks went left, through the long barn and out to a back pasture.

And the Polypays, due to be bred later, went right, out to a side pasture.

What we learned last January from Temple Grandin, who spoke at our Michigan Shepherd's Weekend Symposium, we saw first-hand as the sheep exited the barn through the chute to the right. Sheep are very sensitive to shadows, and almost every sheep stopped at the beginning of the sunlight on the floor to inspect what that line of dark and light was.

As we sorted, we also separated the last of the lambs from their mothers. The lambs will stay in the barn and be fed a bit of grain and hay. The ewe lambs will be bred later this fall, and the castrated ram lambs (called wethers) will become food for someone.

It was completely satisfying work--no leaping or lunging or tackling or chasing. Just moving the center section of the chute back and forth, depending on the type of sheep. Working smarter, not harder--just the way I like it.


  1. Very interesting. Looks like a lot of work. Glad you enjoy it though. Thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog too!

  2. Very clever - and so much more pleasant and less stressful for both you and the sheep involved.

  3. I read one of her books - fascinating.


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