Pasture lambing and processing

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Pasture lambing and processing

Postby Patrick H. » Mon May 07, 2007 9:21 am

Lambing has begun in Eaton Rapid Michigan! Our girls are right on schedule; we have had 45 lambs in the past 6 days and are running right around 180 percent. My plan was to process lambs at birth including tagging docking casterating and painting numbers to match the ewe's paint brand. However I am taking a much more passive approach and not touching lambs unless I think there is a problem. It just seems to upset the ewes and some of them threaten to take off if I mess with the lambs.

So now my dilemma is how to get the processing done. I am thinking of waiting until I am done lambing and then worming ewes again and processing lambs. Perhaps in the second week of June. My concern is flys. What method might be the best for docking and casterating? I have bands and also a emasculator already. Does Pine tar work? What about Catron spray? Suggestions?
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Postby trailrider » Mon May 07, 2007 6:02 pm

I`ve used pine tar or hooflex for many years on the tails when I band them. Never had a problem with flies, even though there are lots of them. No experience with the tail removal systems. Yesterdays lamb will be banded tomorrow. I keep them in small groups when they are born, and it is easier to handle the lambs and moms in the confined areas. If the weather is OK then they go to pasture after they know their mom well. One reason I like winter lambing, is ... no flies.
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Postby Janet McNally » Mon May 07, 2007 10:15 pm

If you wait, then it is best to take tales off with the emasculator or a knife rather than using bands. Use a fly repellent and treat each tail, I like to treat all the way up to the rump.

I would still band for castrating, just my preference.

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Postby Bill Fosher » Tue May 08, 2007 4:26 am

Depending on how many sheep are involved, I might consider trying to do it in a couple of batches, rather than waiting until all the ewes are done lambing. However, if it's hundreds of ewes and hundreds of lambs, you're probably better off waiting.

I don't think bands should be used on anything (tails or scroti) more than about 10 days old, particularly in warm weather.

Catron IV is a wonderful product, but it is a treatment, not a preventative.
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Postby Patrick H. » Tue May 08, 2007 9:02 am

Thanks for your advice. I have also started thinking about a set of pliars that cauterizes as it cuts for tails. Does anyone have a strong opinion on these? Janet what is your opinion on maximum banding age. Should they have a tetnus shot? Also for Janet I think that there will soon be 4 Spanish Ranch Dogs in our neighborhood. Thanks for the referal.
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Postby Patrick H. » Tue May 08, 2007 9:05 am

Bill, I have 100 ewes. If they get beyond 10 days how would you proceed to casterate?
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Postby Peg Haese » Tue May 08, 2007 9:47 am

We have 90 ewes which are commercial woolies, Katahdins, and crossbreds. We use the elastrator to dock everything and castrate the boys, except the Katahdin ram lambs being sold as breeding stock. That's how we know which ones to keep separate plus some buyers prefer long tails on hair sheep. Our ethnic buyers have never cared how long the tail is. I personally prefer short tails, meaning a couple inches long, docked at the end of the caudal fold.

We do most of the banding at a day or two old at the same time they get ear tagged. Have never had a problem this way.

Our neighbors just had a registered Holstein dairy cow with a tail injury that wouldn't heal. The vet suggested banding it above the bad part. They used our sheep elastrator and band. It worked fine.

We have also banded tailenders born in June with no problems. YMMV.
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Postby Janet McNally » Tue May 08, 2007 10:50 am

Re: the pliers that cauterize, are you talking about the electric docker? I have disliked these for several reasons. One is that I think the wound takes longer to heal, although others have pointed out that this has to do with the speed at which the tool cuts through the tail. too slow = more burned flesh = more time required to heal. I have witnessed greater trouble with fly strike in tails docked this way. The other two reasons I do not like this tool is because they are too large for my hands, and because I cannot plug them into a tree.

I use the emasculator, it is a tool that crushes and cuts at the same time. The tool handle is also too large for my hands, so I brace it against my leg. with this tool, there is no danger of burning myself or others if it slips from my grip.

Bill is better at answering the age to band question I think he can recall the research. Myself I band at birth. Some lambs I miss get caught up by one week old. The rest are left until 60 days old where I take the tail off with the emasculator but I do not castrate.

I use the Zonk it fly spray to prevent strike on those late lambs, I will look up the product and report back.

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Postby Bill Fosher » Tue May 08, 2007 1:44 pm

Like Janet, I prefer to band within 24 hours. I know there are plenty of people who do it much later than that without apparent ill effects, and I have even castrated one lamb at approximately 30 days old at the request of a friend. It was based on that experience that I decided not to do it again. The lamb was grinding its teeth for nearly 24 hours, and kicked at its belly for several days. By comparison, a newborn lamb shows no signs of trauma after about five minutes.

I have used hot iron dockers before and didn't like them. For one thing, they pretty much require a second person, and it seemed like the risk of burning things that should never be burned that are right there near the tail was pretty high. By the way, Janet, they do make a propane powered one that wouldn't even require a tree outlet. But those seemed even scarier to me than the electric ones.

As far as castrating older ram lambs, I just don't do it. The double crush emasculator is supposed to be good, and there are those who use a sharp knife. But remember there's an artery in there -- again, scary.

I believe that there was some research done that showed that lambs that were banded at some later age (I want to say it was three weeks) had their growth slowed significantly compared with those that were castrated by other means. Some interpreted this as a condemnation of banding; I considered it confirmation of the proposition that they should be banded young or not at all.
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Postby Muleflock » Tue May 08, 2007 9:42 pm

"Janet what is your opinion on maximum banding age. Should they have a tetnus shot?"

Hi Patrick.

I'm not Janet but to answer this I need to know what your vaccination protocol is for the flock.
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Postby Janet McNally » Tue May 08, 2007 11:41 pm

Sorry, I forgot about the tetanus question.

I vaccinate the ewe for enterotoxemia type C, D, and for Tetanus 3-6 weeks before lambing. this gives the lamb protection via the colostrum.

I guess the vast majority of my lambs are banded by 1 week of age. Anything that was not done at that time, is left to be docked by emasculator at approx 5-6 weeks of age, not so much due to any maximum age, but simply because they are too hard to catch!

so I guess my answer is that I do not have a great deal of experience banding lambs >1 week.

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Postby cynthia Palmer » Wed May 09, 2007 8:26 am

We use the heated cauterizing "plyer types"; they are umbilical cord piglet cutters. This year for the first year we had a significant joint ill problem, Our lambs are generally born outside in April (sometimes can be sloppy), brought in for a day to bond, hardening pen for 1 or 2 days and back outside.

The tails are done between 12 and 48 hours old depending on the business of life...We rarely have any bleeding, have never had fly strike, the babies are up and drinking immediately after docking.

Downsides, definately 2 person job, cut too fast, bleeding, cut too slow, lamb bbq smell (maybe not a downside :D )

But this year, we probably had about 25 out of 175 RideauXDorset or RideauXIll d'france lambs with joint ill; Not a single hair sheep out of about 50 (DorpX Croix) has had a problem. all ewes were vacinated 2-4 weeks before with Tasvax 8

My scottish neighbour with about 400 ewes uses both the bradizzo (sp?) or banding. None are castrated. They had had joint ill issues using the bradizzo/knife in muddy lambing times. Our vet thinks it was a combination of the wet weather these lambs were born in and potentially the use of the heated cutter. My experience...any comments??

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Postby Muleflock » Wed May 09, 2007 10:15 pm

Hi list.

In my opinion. on the tail banding issue; the older the lamb. the more important the placement of the band. In older lambs, (> than one week), it becomes much more important to place the band between the tail bones and not in the middle of one. If the band has to cause necrosis through the bone, it requires considerably more time and results in an increase in secondary problems.

With the lamb on your lap and it's back against your abdomen. you should be able to flex the tail back and forth to find the intervertebral space. where the band should be placed.
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Postby Patrick H. » Thu May 10, 2007 9:40 am

My original intention was to get all of this done at birth, and then I became nervous about mis-mothering. Most of my ewes are 2 year olds and many did not lamb as yearlings so there are a lot of new moms. I am going to start banding at birth. (We are not half done yet) and try to catch up on those that I can catch. I am out there at first light, and I think I can get some that are a few days old while still on beds in the tall grass.
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Postby Janet McNally » Thu May 10, 2007 2:00 pm

Do you have a good dog? you can catch almost anything with a good dog.

If not, a good (large) fishing net is useful.

I have the best luck catching spry lambs during the heat of the day.

re: mismothering, there are some sheep that are tempermentally too wild to process newborns at birth. the moms will take off and it can create quite a bit of chaos. But don't be afraid that a little bit of chaos won't repair itself. I've been amazed how I can blow a first time mom off her birthing bed and it will look like she is gone for good, only to sit back and watch from a distance, she will come right back. If her lambs get scattered, give her 30-40 min and she will have them back together. So you might be worrying about it too much.

I cannot say enough for a good dog though. The dog will keep the mother and sibblings together, so when you leave the spot, no one is scattered about.

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