Caring for Sheep Over Summer
Running sheep on your small farm? Your goal for summer is for your ewes to be ready for Autumn mating season. Let your ewes maintain a healthy weight by keeping flystrike, worms, and foot rot and lameness (and other inflictions) at bay. Here's our quick checklist on what to do:
- Shear your sheep in early summer or when their wool is longer than 10mm. This will reduce the occurrence of flystrike and worms, and prevent stress and discomfort from the summer heat.
- Drench your sheep over summer as directed by your vet.
- Check your sheep's feet regularly and clip hooves where needed. Flystrike can occur in infected hooves, so maintaining good hoof health is worth the effort.
- Use a footbath or foot mat 2-3 times during summer to keep the hooves as healthy as possible.
Flystrike is a nasty affliction, caused by blowflies laying eggs on the skin of your sheep. Blowflies are predominant in warm, humid conditions - areas with rain in summer are typically the most severely affected. Sheep with dirty wool are most affected as dirt and mud attracts blowflies. When the maggots hatch, they burrow into and eat the flesh of sheep causing havoc, sores and discomfort. If left untreated the condition of your animal may become so severe that it may die or need to be euthanised.
Early prevention/intervention is the key to controlling flystrike.
- Your sheep's wool should be 10mm long or less. We recommend the use of good-quality hand shears and/or shearing handpiece.
- Use an effective flystrike powder, one that is easy to apply to make the job as efficient as possible.
- Keep hooves and claws free from infection with hoof cutters and footbaths.
- Drench for worms, when needed, under the guidance of your vet.
- Carefully monitor any cuts or injuries on your sheep until the wounds have healed.
For more guidance on flystrike check out WA's Dept of Primary Industries webpage on flystrike.
When sheep have worms they will typically present with diarrhoea, weight loss and death. Diarrhoea will cause wool around the rear of your sheep to become full of excrement leading to dirty, wet and smelly wool. Blowflies thrive in this type of environment, so it is essential your sheep are drenched to prevent worms. Wormboss provide a useful guide to worms.
Early prevention/intervention is the key to controlling worms in sheep.
- Adopt a good drenching programme, as advised by your vet.
- Use a good-quality drenching system including an effective worm drencher, easy-to-carry drench container with an ergonomically comfortable-to-use drench gun.
- Help your sheep maintain a healthy dag-free rear-end area by using good-quality hand shears.
Keep blowflies away from your sheep's hooves by maintaining disease-free hooves. Your animals with thank you for it. Keep in mind that hoof diseases can spread from infected animal to non-infected animal. Learn more about sheep hoof problems.
Maintaining an early intervention/prevention programme is worthwhile.
- Use a footbath or sheep mat to help your sheep's hooves keep clean and disinfected. Passing your sheep over our Sheepmat, for example, once or twice a week for several weeks before critical periods should help reduce hoof disorders.
- Trim hooves regularly to help reduce occurrences of sores due to excessive hoof growth. We recommend the use of good-quality hoof cutters.
RELATED GEOFF ANDREWS DIRECT PRODUCTS
- Flystrike powder: we recommend the use of WSD Flystrike Powder (available for purchase from our website) to control flystrike and to dress wounds on all animals.
- Hand shear: we offer a wide-range different sized hand shears. Remember to maintain a well-sharpened shear.
- Shearing handpiece: we offer a range of Heiniger shearing handpeices, useful for maintaing an all-round well-shorn sheep.
- Worm Control
- Worm drencher: we recommend the use of WSD worm drenchers (available for purchase from our website) which target a wide-range of worms.
- Drench container: our easy-to-carry drench containers and backpacks hold a good volume of drench liquid helping you be more efficient.
- Drench gun: we have a wide-range of ergonomically-designed drench guns for use whilst worming sheep.
- Hoof cutter: our range of hoof cutters are easy-to-use and effective. Check out the wide range available on our website.
- Footbath: a footbath is a great way to help clean and disinfect your sheep's hooves. They can be used daily or as required.
- Sheepmat: a great alternative to a footbath, our Sheepmat actively pushes the liquid up into the crevices of your sheep's hooves. Well-worth a look.
All-in-all it looks to be an exciting summer ahead of all of us, with many celebrations to keep us all busy and out of trouble. Keep an eye on your sheep and keep moving towards your goal of having your ewes ready for Autumn mating season.
From the team at Geoff Andrews Direct.