Florida Champion Shepherd Competition Sheep Handling and Evaluation Test
Sheep Handling and Evaluation Test:
We just purchased these ewes and we need to evaluate their condition and get them into our records. It is a very hot day, and the ewes are supposed to be pregnant. We need to process these sheep as quietly and stress free as possible.
This is not a timed event.
3 ewes in the pen.
Your approach should be non threatening. Do not stare (target like a predator), but be casual. Speak to the sheep with a calm voice. If the sheep are terrified, running, or trying to jump out, step back. Give them a little space and time to calm down.
First Evaluation In The Pen:
You can see a lot of things in the pen that are hidden in the chute. Look for problems here that you will not find when you get the sheep in the chute.
ALERT – Are all the sheep standing and looking at you or for a way out?
HEALTHY – Ears carried normally, eyes clear, nose not runny, no diarrhea,
pasterns upright, no lameness, hooves good.
Moving Sheep Into Chute:
Use the guillotine and swinging gate to persuade the sheep to enter the chute. Have the gates in the chute arranged the way you want them. Talk to the sheep. You want them to move around in the pen. If they notice the escape to the chute, good. If they are so focused on you that they can’t look away to see the chute, reduce the pressure by stepping back. Then maybe move the gate in one step. By gradually moving the gate in and giving them a chance to notice the escape, eventually one ewe will glance at the escape hole. Stand still and just look at her. She will choose to escape, and the others probably go with her. If not, just lower (do not drop) the guillotine and move her past the next gate and go back for the others.
Sheep In The Chute:
Sheep have a tendency to back up when handled. If you have many sheep in a line, the first ewe will back up, and the second sheep will back up, and
by the time you work to the end of the line, you may find sheep smothered or injured, especially if lambs are mixed in with the mothers. Ideally you will have gates to break the line into compartments.
Be aware that sheep are down low in the chute and much hotter than humans or animals outside the chute. Keep checking the whole line
frequently for animals caught, squished, and over heated. Put your hand down to their heart level to judge heat.
Evaluation in the chute:
EAR TAG – If you can’t read it, clean it with a rag. Is the tag hole clean, or infected?
AGE – Check teeth. Check for correct bite (overbite/underbite).
FAMACHA – Deworm? What medications are the least dangerous if pregnant?
Safe: Prohibit (Levamasole), Cydectin for Sheep
NOT SAFE: Valbazen should not be given in the first trimester of pregnancy.
BCS (Body Condition Score) – Mark on forehead any that are really thin. These ewes may be separated to give extra nutrition.
FEET – Check hooves and pasterns. Look below the panel.
UDDERS – Check for even size, feel for lumps, look for injuries.
TESTICLES – Check for even size on breeding and potential breeding rams. Split testicles are functional in tropical breeds, as heat dispersing
DIARRHEA – Many causes: Change of diet, over eating grain or fresh new
grass, stress, parasites – especially coccidiosis
RESPIRATORY – Runny nose, pneumonia, labored breathing. Take temperature if suspicious. Normal temperature is 101-103
VACCINATE CDT – History? If pregnant? Assume they have not been vaccinated. Seek advice.
TRIM FEET – Maintenance only. NO BLOOD. Do the feet look healthy? Is there a nasty odor? Check hoof gland for redness or swelling.
WOOL – Part the wool down on the side. If you part the wool on top, rain will penetrate to the skin causing wool rot. Look for good crimp, freedom from hair fibers, fineness. Wool needs to be 3 inches long at time of shearing to be used for spinning.
HORNS – Handle horned sheep just like you would polled. Put your hand under the jaw. If you grab young rams by the horns it may break off. If you put your hand on the inside of the horn near the base. If you put you hand on the outside of the horn, they will crush your hand on the wall of the
chute. Once you have control of the head, you can take hold of the horn on the inside.
Your goals for this portion of the competition.
You will have help holding the animal:
1) Trim hooves without drawing blood.
2) Check teeth for age and proper bite.
3) Check for parasites using FAMACHA. You will demonstrate how to expose the flesh inside and under the lower lid, and then compare the flesh color to a color card provided to you.
4) Administer a sub q shot using proper technique
5) Show where the prime cuts of lamb — leg, loin, and rack, are located on the live animal, and feel leg and loin area for meat quantity.
6) Locate the caudal fold, and show where to dock the tail, to avoid a dock that is too short. Longer docks avoid gnat and fly irritation, sunburn, and
sun related cancers.