Skip to main content
Farm Fresh Forensics
rss feedour twitterour facebook page
site map
Latest Posts

Farm Fresh Blog

Thursday, December 17 2015

Yesterday I went to see a sheep friend and deliver some soap. When we moved up here full time and I was re-building my Dorper flock, I bought my seed stock from her Spring lambs. She now has Fall lambs on the ground and I've been "sheep-shopping" for lambs to buy next Spring. With a year's worth of her ewe lambs from different rams, that should bring my numbers back up to where I want for a commercial flock.

The Dorper sheep sell well and the money earned from the sale of sheep, goat milk soap, and Nubian kids will pay for the hay for everyone next winter. This will allow me to explore the world of spinning with my fiber sheep. I want to learn to weave saddle pads, cinches, and lead ropes using the sheep from my flock. The Dorpers afford me this luxury because they will pay for the feed for the fiber sheep who don't give as much in financial return. Dorpers are hardy sheep, which are well suited for this climate. They lamb easily and gain weight quickly. Dorpers often have twins or triplets.  And most importantly, they are recognized at the sale barn by breed and sell accordingly. I can either sell lambs by auction or private sale.

So although my visit was social, I'm always 'sheep-shopping' at Shirley's. She's had 28 lambs so far this fall. Four have disappeared. One was from a set of triplets of which I was buying two. Sigh.

Shirley doesn't have a Livestock Guardian Dog. She lives on a busy highway and her old yard dog was just killed. Although she desperately needs an LGD (or three!) she knows they get loose and understands that another dog will just be killed on the highway. Perhaps a llama would better be suited to her needs. Other Half is going to set up some game cameras at her place to see if he can find out what kind of predator traffic is out there during the day.

Aside from the emotional loss, there is a serious financial loss. Four lambs at $150 each adds up to a substantial loss, and whatever nabbed those lambs won't stop at four. Shirley needs the money, and I don't want to lose the lambs. Each ewe lamb Shirley loses is a ewe lamb I won't be able to buy at weaning time.

As if I didn't already appreciate them, seeing Shirley's situation gave me a better appreciation for my own dogs. We came home well after dark last night, but I was fairly confident that my flock would be intact because Briar was on-duty. When I wake in the morning, even though the coyotes are lurking every night by the fence, I know my flock will be fine because in order to snatch one of my sheep, a coyote must cross through Briar, Judge & Jury. I sleep easier at night knowing this. I cannot emphasize enough that these dogs PAY FOR THEMSELVES!

If you run a small farm and don't yet have a Livestock Guardian Dog, what are you waiting for? I waited for years before I got Briar, and for years I lost chickens, turkeys, and geese. I lost a full sized boer buck right behind my barn!  I didn't think I had enough livestock to justify the addition of another dog, but after a week of having something get into my chicken coop, night after night after night, even though I re-fortified it like Fort Knox every day, was enough to make me throw up my hands in defeat. A game camera revealed that my Boogey Beast was a raccoon. Every morning my chicken coop looked like the scene of a mass murder, as if chickens exploded inside the coop. I finally turned the last three birds loose because they were safer in the trees than locked in a coop waiting on the damned coon to break in again.

That made my decision, so I got a Livestock Guardian Dog when I bought sheep. The killing stopped.  The addition of Briar to the barn yard allowed me to have sheep and goats and chickens. I'm now a firm believer in the idea that where one Livestock Guardian Dog is good, two is better. With the predator load we have up here, we need at least three. As Briar ages, we may have to add some more dogs to take up the slack. The threat is real.

In other areas it may be easy to be lulled into a false sense of security, to think a Livestock Guardian Dog is just a decorative white lump in the pasture, but up here, the 'wolf' is literally at the door, and you'd better have some dogs to chase him back into the forest, or lambs will disappear. Your livestock will be dollar bills floating like feathers in the wind.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 06:45 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

Post comment
Email Address

(max 750 characters)
* Required Fields
Note: All comments are subject to approval. Your comment will not appear until it has been approved.

Red Feather Ranch, Failte Gate Farm

© 2009-2019, Farm Fresh Forenics, Forensicfarmgirl, Failte Gate Farm, Red Feather Ranch All Rights Reserved.

rss feedour twitterour facebook page