Monday, June 28, 2010

Obsessed with Poop

That's right.

You read that right!

Parasites such as worms are really one of my biggest nightmares in sheep. Our cattle have not been wormed for a decade and have not had any worms to speak of since then. We've also had a closed herd for quite some time. Our cows also go to pastures away from our farmyard which helps to break the egg cycle. They also calve in a 'clean' pasture every spring and then that pasture sits empty the rest of the year.

Sheep are little more tricky. Shetlands are amazing stoic with worms. Most are quite resistant. BFLs being an improved breed, tend to be less resistant to worms and I have to work with them a bit harder.

I became so obsessed with fecal tests the past few years that I finally purhased a microscope and all the necessary mediums, supplies, slides, etc to 'do it myself' (and save a butt load of money not having to take them to the vet every week). I am now able to test EACH sheep and I'm VERY happy to report ZERO worms that I've detected in my samples. To make sure I'm on top of my game, I take every 15th or 20th sample and give half to the vet and half to myself to see if I'm just missing something. I'm happy to say I am NOT missing anything, because they aren't there!

Granted some things can NOT be seen under the microscope like tapes...but I check their stools for 'sections' of tapes....and haven't found any of those either. And yes, I am squatting in the pasture, seaching the poop pellets and holding some up to the sun and breaking them in half. LOL. I guess you can say I'm a big obsessed.

Flock/Herd health is paramount here. Besides fecal tests I also rotate the sheep through paddocks for grazing. Every 6-9 days I rotate the girls through their paddocks to a new paddock that hasn't been grazed in at least 4 weeks.

Besides fecal tests and rotational grazing...I also blood test for several contagious diseases. OPP, Johne's, CL and BTV in that order of importance. It has been a HUGE expense the past several years as I have brought in new stock and there is a need to have TWO negative tests at least 6 months apart to be considered Flock Negative. After that 20% of your flock should be selected at random to continue to make sure you are negative, and that no false positives occur.

Its an added expense that I whole heartedly believe in. I put more weight into that then I do the Scrapie Program. No offense to anyone involved in the Voluntary Program and are certified. I don't believe there is enough evidence for me to jump on that bandwagon. I joined it merely to be able to AI my sheep. Since that is not a requirement any longer, I am no longer involved in the Voluntary Program.

Water testing (for toxins), feed testing (for toxins, protein, minerals etc) and ventilation are also key to a healthy, happy herd/flock.

You cannot have a successful, productive flock/herd if you do not have their health at the forefront of your best interest.

Now saying this I still seem to find things that happen to my flock, but I am able to at least scratch parasites and contagious diseases off of the 'what caused it' list.

Tune in next time.......

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