Sheep In the Road!

Could have played that classic Smithfield Fair song yesterday when i received the call from the highway department guys that the highway is full of sheep!  Sheep In the Road.  Thankfully, Dallas and I were already up at my farm tending to the cattle when the call came through.  Frustratingly, however, just 20 minutes earlier we had been with the sheep cutting down scrub trees and brush in the timber for them to eat.  Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.  Nevertheless, all but about 20 head were strung out about a 1/4 of a mile along Hwy Y. Usually, I’m absolutely and totally ticked that the sheep are out.  This time was way worse, because they had never been out of the perimeter fence, only before out of the confines I had set for them.  Although, I kept the sheep netting ‘hot’ (very well electrified), there was always something knocking it over, sometimes deer, sometimes the guard dogs, sometimes a lamb that decides it’s invincible gets tangled in it and through its struggles wads up and takes down a good section.  So, even though the tangled lamb didn’t get out – all the rest do. Untangling a struggling lamb from electric netting can be a challenge, but they sure are happy to get free! The sheep have just become FAR TOO burdensome.  I’ve tried for three years to make them work in my system, but they are just too much work.  They can certainly be used for pasture management, but the constant threat to their lives (predators, mud, water, heat, getting lost) is more than I’m willing to take on anymore.  Add to the fact that sheep are worth far less than cattle right now and the economics and quality of life for keeping sheep are simply not there.  So, with this escape, the sheep selling off has been fastracked to hopefully within the next 30 days, although some of the lambs may be too young to sell.  However, the vast majority of them should be gone soon.  At my age, I’m going to to cut back on work load and the sheep will go. The marketing starts next Thursday, with sorting off all fat ewes (those who have lost lambs, so aren’t suckled down) and the older winter born feeder lambs and they’ll go to Midwest Exchange Regional Stockyards in Mexico, MO.  Once those are off, then the feeder lambs’ moms will fatten quickly and then they’ll go to market.  After that, I’ll see how the nursing ewes and spring lambs look and make a decision as to when to market them. I’m really disappointed that the sheep won’t work out – I had such high hopes of them being part of my grazing management plan, but they are just too much work and worry  Perhaps if they were located closer to our home, it would be better, but driving 35 minutes to check them nearly everyday is more than what i want to spend, plus too many times i’d have to round them up and too much death loss to predation. CHeers! tauna

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