Let me start with a disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian and I am not an expert shepherdess. However, I have been keeping sheep for a little while and will gladly share what I do to help keep them healthy. I find it interesting to see what others do. Keep in mind that management techniques may also vary based on the type of sheep you keep and the climate in which they live. Here is what I currently use as my plan of care.
Let me say right off that I am not an expert on sheep and my experience is limited to dairy sheep at this point in time. If you are thinking about getting livestock and considering sheep, especially if your thinking of dairy sheep, hopefully this is a good simple introduction.
If I had to pick one specie of livestock to keep, I would be torn between dairy cows and sheep. Goats are great and kids are the best babies. However, there's something about sheep I really like. However, it's about finding the right fit for you.
Yes, Tess is holding a chicken upside down. And, she's answering the judge's questions about the chicken's vent (butt). This nice buff Orpington lays nice creamy eggs. When she gets old, she'd be destined for the pot to make amazing broth. I don't remember what happened to this particular girl, but she was a pretty nice hen as most Orpingtons are.
We like to order a variety of heirloom and exotic laying chickens. Some of them we can't get sexed (one gender or the other), but only come straight run, which is both males and females. We don't want to keep the roosters as long as the hens as they don't lay, end up fighting, and aren't as good to eat when they get older. My husband usually takes the kids to do the deed. One of the times my husband and children went to dispatch the roosters, they encountered one now known as the spaghetti western chicken. Don't read on if you're faint of heart as this is about killing chickens and I don't sugar coat anything.
I understand wanting, craving to live in the country surrounded by the part of the world you "create." I get loving animals and like having them around you. The thought of walking in from the garden and chicken coops with produce still warm from the sun and eggs that make store-bought taste like flavorless imitations. I really get it. I also know many people go make a go at it and are surprised - in a bad way - by the amount of work this life demands. It gives real meaning to the need to work smart, not just hard. Here are some of my thoughts of making the change and the good and bad to anticipate. Keep in mind, it's not the same for everyone.
What are those little metal tags my sheep and goats wear from the time they are a few days old? Those are identification tags that are part of the USDA Scrapie Eradication Program. When I first learned about it, my veterinarian required I have my animals tagged prior to drawing labs that allowed me to sell milk. If this disease has drawn that much interest in monitoring, I was curious to learn more. I am in no way a scrapie expert, but there is a little of what I learned.
We've lived in crowded cities (Bay Area, New York City), semi-rural, and completely rural areas. There are definitely differences. I remember visiting country relatives and things were quite different and I didn't know why. Here is my attempt at answering some of those sorts of questions ... hopefully I answer right, but other people may have different answers.
Feta is a traditional Greek cheese know for its tangy flavor and crumbly texture. In Greece, it is made from sheep milk or sheep and up to 30% goat milk. It is an ancient custom dating back to at least the Byzantine Empire when it was first recorded, and it's also mentioned in Homer's Odyssey. In Greek cuisine, it is a staple on the table and served all of the time, like salt or pepper. The best feta is very tangy and crumbly - aged up to one year!
So Greeks love feta and eat it on practically everything, but how about Americans? And, how does ours compare?
Wife to Brandon, mother to Tess and Liam, farmer, entrepreneur, cook & baker, nurse, and accountant who loves to try new things, travel, and work toward greater self-reliance.