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Sheep/Shepherding/introducing abandoned sheep


QUESTION: My question is kinda two-fold.

1. We purchased 6 Desert Hair sheep a little over a week and a half ago. In the first week a lamb was killed. We weren't sure what got it at first, as we believed our fence was adequate, but it wasn't - as we discovered. :( The mom to this poor dead guy still has heavy teats. Do I need to do anything for her?

2. We just got a call, and in the morning I will be getting 2 abandoned Khatadin hair sheep. Do you think it possible for me to integrate them into the small flock, is it too late to try to get her to adopt them?

We have never owned sheep before, so this is a new experience all around. The sheep we do have are not overly friendly, and don't allow us to come close (and who could blame them with being attacked so soon after coming)   :(  - and I really want these 2 little sheep to belong to the flock, not just be people friendly.

Any advice would be welcome. I have read up on what to do about feeding these little ones if I can't bond them. I don't know if it is too late for the mom to want any new ones, or if her milk would be drying up and no good even if she wants them. Just completely clueless.

ANSWER: Robin:
Here is what I have done in the past. My success rate is about 75%.
1) Milk the mom of the killed lamb ( lets call her Lucy)twice a day. keep feeding her well - hay, grain, fresh water and if you have it alfalfa.  Keep the captured milk in a mason jar or bottle.   Keep refrigerated unless you are using it immediately.
2) Give Lucy's milk to the new Khatadin lambs.  Keep Lucy and the two lambs close to each other ( if you have lamb jugs, that would be perfect.#  Left over milk, fed either by stomach tube or bottle can be wiped on the lambs' back and butt.  The whole idea here is for Lucy to recognize her own smell on these lambs and their poop.  Spend time with Lucy and the lambs in a controlled small environment.   Preferably, if you have a stanchion or can hold Lucy's head, direct the lambs to nurse from her.  If you are lucky, over the course of a few days to a week, Lucy will smell her milk on these two lambs and allow them to nurse on their own.  Be patient.  If it does not work use her milk for the two until weaning time.

New sheep in a flock are regarded largely by the flock as unwanted new neighbors.  Keep the newer sheep and lambs within sight but with no direct contact with the flock members.  Strange little lambs will be buffeted about by the ewes, only because the lambs are looking for their moms or a quick snack #milk#.  When you have an hour or two to be in an area with all them, once the new ones get their bearings, then monitor the additions to the flock.  Within a day or two, they should be fine.

If the two abandoned lambs become bottle babies, be sure to call for them on a strict schedule and always the same.  Ours came to "sucky"... not great, but that is what they were accustomed to.  
Speaking of bottle feeding... one lesson... do NOT over feed them. Better to leave them a bit hungry then dead and bloated.

Let me know how it goes!!

Good luck


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QUESTION: Hey there. Unfortunately, the older sheep won't let me near her to milk her, so that option isn't working. I did keep the new babies separated for the first few days because they were butting them. It looks like they are keeping separate now. I have to keep them penned at night for safety, but as they get older, we will let them free. :) I wish the older ones were friendlier, but since they are new too, there just hasn't been time to get them all adjusted yet.

I hope things are going well with the little ones. So far it seems ok. I did have to trim yucky dried poo off one's bottom that was like cement. Yuck. But I did get that cleared. She did lay on her knees a couple times yesterday during feeding - is that normal? It was her first "all day" out, so I am hoping it is just her being tired, and nothing wrong. She seems fine otherwise.

If you can think of anything I should do differently I will try.

ANSWER: Robin,
Sounds like you are on the road to success!  It will get better I promise!  Do keep an eye on the lambs tails and behinds. Because they are not being mothered by anyone else by you, they will have a tendency to get "cement  butt".  Moms will clean them and because these type of sheep you do not doc their tails, this is something you will have to keep an eye on. An old hand towel and some mild detergent does the trick!

I admire the effort and dedication you are showing your flock. You will most certainly will be rewarded for your efforts!

All the best!


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: The detergent - should we just use dish soap (mild)? Or like powdered detergent? I had to go out with scissors and clip the hair - I couldn't get it off any other way. LOL

I was warned against bottle feeding babies as they would be the "less viable" of the flock, but their moms died in a brutal ice storm, so I don't know if that works against these girls or not in regard to their genes. So far they seem healthy.

Again - thanks!!

Clipping wool is a great idea, but adding the detergent will also help.  A mild liquid dish soap like Ivory works great. Warm water and a terry cloth wash rag does wonders.  Once they begin producing a harder stool, then they should be fine.

While we wish it always is a perfect world, it is not.  Human babies do just great on formula if the mother cannot breast feed, same holds true for bottle babies.  They sometimes are a bit smaller but once they become adult, then they are just fine.

Some of my bottle babies have produced outstanding off-spring.  And, they remember me, so are gentle and loving!!

Have a sunny day!



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Kari Wempe


I can answer most questions about raising, breeding, feeding, showing,typical illnesses, pregnancy, birthing, bottle feeding,showing and sheering sheep. I have raised sheep for show and production for 20 years. The breeds of sheep I am most familier with are Crossbred, Suffolk, Hampshire- basically black face sheep. I deal with the classification of meat sheep over bred for wool sheep.


I have raised a flock of sheep for 20 years on our farm. Very involved in 4H, FFA aspects and their rules, jackpot shows, state, regional, county and local shows.

Experience is my best creditial however, I have a college education and have taught many classes ( in other catagories), so I am familiar in the ways of teaching others.

Awards and Honors
Many breed awards- champion and grand champion awards in Kansas for the past 20 years, showmanship awards at local and state level in Kansas.

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