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Chris Galley

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Monday 31 August – home dagging

Last day of August. Yikes! This is a bonus day, I was supposed to be playing rugby today, but other things got in the way. Instead I got even more exhausted dealing with my rams.

Somehow I’ve got 11 rams at the moment. That’s an outrageous number, 2 is generally considered greedy. OK some of them are wethers (castrated males) but not many. Either way I have enough rams to service the whole of Northern England and a fair bit of Scotland too. Most will be off to the mart when their liver fluke medicine wears off, but in the meantime they need looking after.

The new boy (still trying to come up with a name for him) got fly strike treatment. The season for that should be over, unless we get  a warm damp autumn but I’m not taking any chances. Fly strike is when maggots nest in sheep’s fleeces and then move into the sheep’s flesh, not at all nice and can overwhelm a sheep in a few days, and the ending is appalling. I’ve only had one bad example of it, I spent two hours removing wriggling maggots from the sheep’s rump with a pair of tweezers. Luckily the ewe recovered and is still with us at the grand old age of 10 years 4 months – and still an excellent mum, what a trooper.

There’s a spray on medicine for it which works by percolating via the wool into the sheep’s system, and this is what I gave to the new ram. The other 10 rams can’t be treated with this spray since they will be on the market before the hazardous effects have worn off. So it’s old fashioned “dagging” for them – cutting away the clarty bits off around the, er, tail, and visually inspecting for signs of infection. That went well today, I suspect it’s been a dreadful summer for flies and the boys weren’t too mucky, still it’s no-one’s favourite task.

I also gave them a pedicure while I had them to hand. Not all of them needed doing but all sheep are prone to foot rot or scald unless their hooves are kept in good condition with a trim from time to time. This involves tipping them on their backs, and since some of them weigh 80 kgs it’s hard work. The only way that works for me involves lifting them clear off the ground and bringing them down on their rumps, which is necessarily quick but no-one else seems to do it to large sheep. There’s an easier way which involves twisting their heads at the neck towards the body, taking a step back, pushing them down your leg and rolling the sheep over, but I can never do it right.

After clipping the hooves some of them need a foot spray to help heal the hoof. For some reason all these medicines have marker sprays in them, which I’ve never found in the least bit useful (the theory is that you can work out which ones have been done by the coloured dye), they just end up all over me instead. 

Well that’s an excuse for a long hot bath afterwards, it’s the only way to get rid of the marker dye in one hit. Smokey the cat joined me for a chat (the second cat I’ve had that likes steamy baths) while I had tea and biscuits and a soak.

Oh well a long post, if I had more time it would have been shorter.

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