Can't catch my sheep

Robin2020

Member
Livestock Farmer
Don't laugh!!
So I am new to this and received 20 North of England Ewe lambs last week. They are in a 6 acre field with permanent electric fencing around it. They have lots of grass and don't seem overly interested in sheep nuts yet. They don't come to a bucket.
I made a pen outside the current field using the field gate as an entrance. With a friend (just) managed to get 18 of them in it last week. I was able to do some vital work on a cut foot and back sore. Now another is lame and I obviously need a look. Trying the same method yesterday we got nowhere. They know exactly where I am taking them and two people is not enough. I live on my own so need to find a solution. I cant be dragging 3 or 4 friends over every time I need to look at a sheep...
I have had a go at grabbing them individually but they are extremely fast and aware. I am far from slow (serious runner) but really struggle. It seems wrong to be chasing lame sheep for any period of time.

I think some of my main issues are:
They never got the chance to trust me as they needed working on straight away.
They don't have mature sheep to follow.
They don't come to feed.
The electric fence is not ideal when pushing them into corners.
I cant really have a dog/dogs as I work full time.

Any ideas? Perhaps I was crazy to imagine I could do it without dogs...? A footbath around a feed trough may reduce the times I need to capture them but its not the full answer. Should I get a crook and concentrate on that...? Spend a lot on hurdles and have very long funnel.... ? Make a permanent pen in the field with all of their water/food there..? Sooooo frustrating. I have the time to work with them but they hate me :)
 

Eolas Álainn

Member
Livestock Farmer
I know that when we took on sheep for the first time it took a bit for the sheep to trust us. Sheep are creatures of habit (for better or worse!) and you can use this to your advantage. You don't really need to convince the whole herd to follow you but the leaders in the herd to. Usually herd animals follow the animal in front, if they run they will run also.

As for how to do it, I know chasing is not going to work. This is like a predator chasing them and humans are simply not fast enough to sprint after sheep. I would recommend deciding on a schedule and being calm when summoning your sheep. You will have rebels but the majority will follow the lead after a while.
 

Mixedupfarmer

Member
Location
Norfolk
Don't laugh!!
So I am new to this and received 20 North of England Ewe lambs last week. They are in a 6 acre field with permanent electric fencing around it. They have lots of grass and don't seem overly interested in sheep nuts yet. They don't come to a bucket.
I made a pen outside the current field using the field gate as an entrance. With a friend (just) managed to get 18 of them in it last week. I was able to do some vital work on a cut foot and back sore. Now another is lame and I obviously need a look. Trying the same method yesterday we got nowhere. They know exactly where I am taking them and two people is not enough. I live on my own so need to find a solution. I cant be dragging 3 or 4 friends over every time I need to look at a sheep...
I have had a go at grabbing them individually but they are extremely fast and aware. I am far from slow (serious runner) but really struggle. It seems wrong to be chasing lame sheep for any period of time.

I think some of my main issues are:
They never got the chance to trust me as they needed working on straight away.
They don't have mature sheep to follow.
They don't come to feed.
The electric fence is not ideal when pushing them into corners.
I cant really have a dog/dogs as I work full time.

Any ideas? Perhaps I was crazy to imagine I could do it without dogs...? A footbath around a feed trough may reduce the times I need to capture them but its not the full answer. Should I get a crook and concentrate on that...? Spend a lot on hurdles and have very long funnel.... ? Make a permanent pen in the field with all of their water/food there..? Sooooo frustrating. I have the time to work with them but they hate me :)
[/QUO
Borrow some one's dog and put it on a long lead, even if its not trained or interested in the sheep, it will help.
 

SteveHants

Member
Livestock Farmer
You should be able to crook a limping ewe without a dog once you get the hang of it, sometimes cornering them is useful, other times its just a question of reflexes and approaching them from the right angle.

It's quite difficult to explain without showing you.

You'll need a leg crook/cleek.
 

delilah

Member
Trough in the field, on its own no hurdles or anything, just a few nuts in it, walk away.
Go back next day, repeat., for a week.
Then put trough in a pen, and repeat, don't shut them in just walk away.
Give it a couple more days, by then they will all be trotting in, quietly shut gate. Trained for life then.
 

egbert

Member
Obviously, we're all shouting under our breath 'get a dog', but you say you can't.
Fair enough
If they're going to NEED attention before they get hungry/used to coming to the bucket...
1. is there a pal within striking distance who'll put a dog round them?
2, can you sub divide their enclose with electro netting, forming as said above a funnel?
That might keep them shorter of keep, and more inclined to look at the trough

Mebbe borrow/buy a quiet old yow who will come to the bucket...she'll teach em sooner.
(I often drop a couple of boney cull ewes in with the ewe lambs for the winter for this purpose)

Once they're used to you/the bucket, you can get by without a hound.

PS you could make fair money selling tickets to watch you running round em meantime, if you can shoulder the jocularity!
 
Location
southwest
One of the immutable laws of sheep keeping is that a percentage are always lame-treat one and the next day another one will be lame!

On a more cheerful note try making a pen out of a few big bales against a hedge. The sheep get used to it quicker than "strange looking" hurdles and also use it as a shelter.
 

Tubbylew

Member
Location
Herefordshire
One of the immutable laws of sheep keeping is that a percentage are always lame-treat one and the next day another one will be lame!

On a more cheerful note try making a pen out of a few big bales against a hedge. The sheep get used to it quicker than "strange looking" hurdles and also use it as a shelter.
I've also heard it said that "if you can't catch a sheep, it doesn't need catching, and if you can catch it, it's going to die"
 

Paddington

Member
Location
Soggy Shropshire
On my own one day I asked a neighbour, a retired headmaster, if he could spare ten minutes to help me move some new sheep. He commented on the appalling language used by surrounding farmers when moving sheep. There was absolutely no need for all the cursing of sheep, their progeny or sheepdogs, what would visitors to the area think of us ?
Took rather longer to move our sheep than planned and I had never heard a headmaster use those words before. :oops:
 

Frodo

Member
Location
Scotland (east)
I’m on this same journey. Every time you handle them it does get slightly easier. I am surprised no one has suggested a quad. I would think a dog would be bored with 20 sheep and you would just swear at it. Ideally I want niether a quad or a dog, but may have to give in or the family will rebel.
 

Wooly

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Romney Marsh
Are the sheep yours...... or just in to eat the grass down ?

If the later, just ring the farmer to sort out the lame ones.



But as already said, if you are a fast runner and these 'lame' sheep out run you, then perhaps they are not lame enough to need treating !!


The best tip is to sell them and buy yourself some Romneys ........ :LOL: ;)
 
Spend a lot on hurdles and have very long funnel....

Or spend very little on one 50m roll of sheep wire and a few posts. The secret to sheep funnel making is to make fools out of them. You can achieve this by not permanently attaching the pen end of the funnel wire to the pen. Instead roll up the end bit of wire to leave an open gap. The day you need to catch the barstewards... sheep... you can unroll the end of the wire and attach it to the pen (baler twine....... or something more respectable). The sheep then are used to the funnel so they never fear going into it, but think you're an idiot as there's a gap at the end they can run out through without going into the pen. Except you close the gap the day you want to catch them and laugh at them at your leisure.

For full on d**kh**d sheep you may purchase second hand some type of netting on posts. I have 50m of poultry electric netting which I use as a "guide" towards a pen or funnel. But, don't pressure them against that type of fence, if they knock it once at all they'll go through it every time. Another option might be some windbreak mesh cable tied to some type of post or other of your choice.
 

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