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Sheep Handling at Dog Tale Ranch

At our place we keep sheep handling to a minimum. We make regular pasture moves for rotational grazing but otherwise handle the flock as little as possible. We rely on herding dogs when we do work with the flock.

Handling Ewes for Treatment

For the times that we need to administer treatment to ewes we use the yards around our shearing shed and a handling race set up in inside the building.

With the aid of stock dogs we bring the flock to a paddock located near the yard. With a large flock, I prefer to bring the flock home the evening prior and let them settle there. The next morning it is a short move to the barn paddock.

As we enter the barn paddock the ewes are funneled into a 16 foot wide, 140 foot long alleyway. If needed the gate at the far end is open for flow of animals, and extra animals can be held in the back holding paddock.

The alleyway leads into a bugle which curves around the back of the building and funnels down to a raceway. Animals can be moved into the bugle or cut out by a gate at the entrance of the bugle.

The sheep handling set up in the building is comprised of portable sheep panels. The raceway leads to a catch gate or a sort gate, depending on what is needed. The race has a stop gate at the entrance and a guillotine style gate part way along to shut off flow and hold animals in front. A sort gate can be inserted for sorting.

We secure the portable panels of the raceway with metal T-posts. Otherwise the ewes can move the raceway.

We use stock dogs to move the animals from holding pens to alleyways, etc.

We have used both solid sides on the panels and open view panels and either works although it has to be all of one style or the other. Having an open panel in a length of blind ones will stop your flow every time.

We use a similar set up on shearing day with adjustments made so the race comes up alongside the plywood shearing floor. The shearers head gate is installed at the end of the race to hold the first ewe. Panels with flip doors in the center allow shearers access to ewes standing in the race and a means to tip them out of the race, readying them for shearing.

Swinging man doors are an asset when placed at strategic points where humans will travel back and forth and can save climbing over panels, which is very tiring when you have a long day of sheep work.

Handling Young Lambs

Docking tails and castrating lambs happens on pasture during lambing. A drift lambing arrangement assists us, although is not necessary, in catching young lambs, preferably prior to 48 hrs hold. If for some reason we have to administer medical treatment to all of the lambs, we would walk the flock home and use our sheep handling area.

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