My name is Briana and 2014 marked the beginning of my second year raising sheep and goats. This blog is designed to help those who are just starting out with their own flocks/herds. You will quickly learn that there is no guidebook for dealing with sheep or goats. You have to learn by experience and find what works for you. Some things that work for one person might not help your herd. I found this out the hard way. I started off my herd in 2013 with two bottle-raised Suffolk ewe lambs, Mavis and Matilda. A few months later, I added two weanling goats to the herd, a silver wether named Pockets and a black doe named Princess. My first year went smoothly, with no problems. I decided that I really enjoyed my sheep and goats and wanted to make a business out of them.
When my ‘girls’ were about ten (10) months old, I made the decision to find mates for them. A good friend of mine also raised goats and she agreed to rent me one of her Pygmy/Nigerian Dwarf bucks, a fluffy, white little thing that was promptly named ‘Cotton Ball’. I introduced him to Princess and they were the perfect match.
Then I tired to find a Suffolk ram for my ewes. That is when the problems began. I rented a ram from a man who buys and sells all different breeds of sheep and goats for a living. I paid him a visit as picked out a nice looking ram. I loaded him into the trailer, paid the owner, and was told to return him in two month’s time. “No problem!” I told myself. I put him in with my ‘girls’ and left him to do his job. I checked on them every day to make sure the ram wasn’t bullying my ewes or chasing them away from the feed bunks, and found a perfectly timid ram. he stayed out of reach and never offered to charge me. I was thrilled. Then I noticed that overnight he’d acquired a bad case of the scours. I called up my friend, who also raises hair sheep, and together we deduced that he was eating too much grain and I was slowly poisoning him, as grain-if not introduced slowly to the sheep-can be toxic to them. I immediately cut out the grain ration and started dosing the ram with an off-brand of Pepto Bismal. I got him cleared up, but not before I noticed that one of my ewes was having ear problems. At first I thought it was an ear infection, but when she did not respond to the treatment I tried, decided to again call my friend. After telling her the symptoms, she said it was ear mites. After treated the ewe accordingly, her ear problems went away. And then my other ewe suddenly contracted pink eye. Another call to my friend resulted in another form of natural treatment for this new ailment.
What I learned from this experience is to quarantine all new animals before putting them in to your herd. Not only did that ram bring with him ear mites and the pink eye virus, he also had lice. So from now on if I buy-or rent-any animals, I will pen them up by themselves for a week or so and doctor them if necessary before introducing them to my other animals.
I am still learning new things about my sheep and goats. And I intend to write everything down here so that you can learn right along with me, and hopefully avoid-or at least earn to fix-some of the problems I ran into along the way. Thank you for following my on my jourey through the land of sheep and goats.