“Let’s get a few sheep to graze the pasture”, she said. “How pastoral, watching them out there grazing”, he said. “Isn’t keeping sheep and goats rewarding?”, they said.
Yup – most of the time, our sheep are no trouble at all and we thoroughly enjoy watching them out mowing our pasture. But, they are not entirely maintenance-free. This being our first year with sheep, we are still in the steep learning curve phase. But, while I imagine there will always be more to learn, it is our hope that after the first year the curve will shallow out somewhat.
The guy we from whom we bought our lambs assured us they had been vaccinated. We nodded and smiled and pretended we knew what that meant. After all, we were only going to have them a few months and then take them to butcher so it didn’t matter that much, right? But then we decided to keep the ewes and raise their lambs and suddenly it became far more important to know what vaccinations they need….and when.
Google is one of my best friends. Smart. Helpful. Never whines about medical conditions. From it, I learned that both sheep and goats need to be inoculated against Enterotoxemia (otherwise known as “Over-eating Disease”). I also learned that a pregnant doe or ewe should receive the vaccination “within 30 days” of giving birth, in order to pass on immunity to her baby.
Our problem was that our ram and buck run with the flock at all times so due dates are mostly guess work. But I could see that the ewes were starting to show so one Sunday we decided to wrangle them and give them their shots, in the hopes we were “within 30 days”. Our sheep run to me when I dole out grain, but they stay an arm’s length away and have never tamed to the point of being easily handled. Not to worry – we had a small area we could corral them quite easily by graining them there, and then it would be a simple matter to grab them one at a time and give them their shots. It went just as smoothly as we predicted…..not.
My first attempt to grab a ewe and gain control of her landed me on my back with the ewe standing over me. It turns out they are bigger, heavier and stronger than they look.
But with two of us – one to hold while the other administered the shot – we were ultimately successful.
Three days later the first lamb was born (see post here). Ooops. I guess my prediction of due dates was a little off. Unfortunately, that meant the lamb was not getting protection via her mother’s milk. I consulted with a vet as to whether I should give the lamb a shot sooner rather than later but was told that their immune system is too immature in the first few weeks. Instead it was recommended that I wait until the lambs are 6 weeks to give the first shot and follow it up with the booster at 10 weeks.