Sunday, December 11, 2011

Progress to December 11th - not?

Day 2 showed some movement of the horny little subject towards the threat (me) and some interest in the feed - he tongued up a few pieces of of feed.
Day 3 - as day 2 - plus he has lost his fear/flight reaction to when I throw the feed towards him.

But then, day 4 - well that was December 8th - feast of the Immaculate Conception for so-called Christians - but day of no more conception for my little flock. I took ram and wether out of the field to prevent any more tupping - if not tupped by now, then hard luck ewe as I don't want a drawn out lambing next spring. But of course this was not popular with the ram- had to chase him out of the lower pasture to the upper pasture. He has stood at the gate between his field and the ewes field staring in hopefully at the ewes for the past 3 days. My appearance with the "treats" are no treat for him. He does take some from the grass where I throw it after I have departed but he's no very interested especially as the ewes congregated round the gate, driving him nuts. Fortunately he has not managed to smash the gate for the  fence.
Today, I drew the ewes well away from his position before leaving a plastic bowl with feed in for the pining ram.
Despite this, I don't think my initial efforts were were in vain. The tup attraction will fade and the food memory will not - and he will associate me with it more and more.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Training Setanta - first day

Setanta ram at 6 months

The plan is to train my young EasycareXWiltshire Horn ram, Setanta, so he will walk by me with a halter on.
He was born in April this year (2011) so hopefully he's still young enough to respond to training.
A fairly laid back fellow, he gave me no grief when I collared him to give him an oral dose of medicine (his breeder in Kilkenny had given him the first dose against fluke earlier).
So PHASE ONE : get him accustomed to receiving treats.

The treats I'll use are sheep nuggets which are a mix of grains and pulps used to supplement the pregnant ewes diet. It's probably the molasses they contain that makes them a treat. Nontheless, only my oldest ewes and one younger one will come greedily for these at present and of these, only some will take from the hand. Others want some but seem to smell the hand of a carnivore and shy away. Thes egals have experience of feed before as some were handraised by children, being triplets and the owner not wanting to overburden their dames.
The other, including Setanta, stand alert and aloof though some will take it from the ground.
So my objective today is to let the flock see the greedy ones having their share, leave some on the ground and let them at it. That way, they'll get the message.

So I donned lots of woolens and went down in the cold afternoon to do lady bountiful. Setanta at first reacted with mild possessiveness of some of his ewes but he soon became intrigued by what he saw the older ones doing. I spent just 5 minutes with them and as I left, I saw him sniffing around the feed spot which is all I expected from the first forray.

Huddie, the former ASBOdog (now a milder character in his older years) lay obediently at a distance so he didn't stress them at all. He looked a bit sniffy that he didnt get a treat for good behavior as we returned home but accepted a pat on the head instead.