Spring has officially sprung! For those of us in the farm industry, this is often a super cute time of year, as many animals give birth in spring. You may also find yourself with a few extra things on your to-do list. A Westminster, MD vet lists some sheep care tips below.
T ransitioning To Pasture
Your sheep will be very much honed in on those first green shoots of grass. However, it’s best to transition them from hay to pasture slowly. Sheep can get diarrhea if they eat too much of that rich grass at once. At first, give them hay in addition to letting them graze. You may also want to gradually increase the time your woolly friends stay outside. Don’t be surprised if your sheep come back with yellow faces. Dandelions are the ultimate spring food for many animals. They’re also packed with nutrients! In the mornings, wait until the dew has dried before letting your sheep out. That moisture attracts and sustains parasites.
Another reason to gradually introduce your sheep back to pasture is that it can help prevent overgrazing. It’s generally best if the grass is about six inches long before you let the sheep really have at it. The longer the grass is when it’s eaten, the quicker it will grow back. Rotating pastures will also help keep your land healthy.
Be extra vigilant, and check your sheep for signs of sickness or parasites. This is a good time to have your vet come out and do exams. You’ll want to check your vaccination rosters, and make sure that your four-legged friends are on a proper schedule for clostridium types C and D vaccines is particularly important. Parasite control should also be on the agenda for this time of year. It may also be time for a hoof trim.
You may want to get some chores done before the weather gets hot. Check your fencing, and address any drainage issues. You may also want to give your barn or shelter a good cleaning.
Spring is traditionally shearing time. If you have ewes, it’s best to give them their haircuts before they give birth. It will be easier for the little ones to nurse, and more comfortable for mama.
Do you have questions or concerns about sheep care? Contact us, your local Westminster, MD veterinary clinic, today!