Saturday, June 26, 2010

Speed Worming

If you have two neighbors, a daughter, and a visiting couple, how long does it take to worm, trim hooves, and give shots to 64 sheep? Sounds like a light bulb joke, but it isn't. The good news is, not that long once the system is established and the sheep get with the plan.

With a pre-vet in the family and a keen focus on reducing worm-load for health and weight gain this year, we have set ourselves a rigorous schedule of worming both ewes and their babies. Catching up 64 ewes and lambs is the easy part. Catching the individuals is harder. But we have a program that is beginning to work like a well-oiled machine.

Karen was a quick study for trimming hooves and she and I take opposite ends of a ewe for the best results. Allen took a little longer to learn how to flip a sheep on its back because, like most guys, he tried the muscle route first. Sheep don't fall for that and with 4 legs can hold on pretty dear to an upright position. It's a balance thing that you need to do. Pull the head back and press down on the flank and plop! The ewe is on her back in no time.

Our friends from Tennessee were given the jobs of filling the syringes with vaccine and wormer and keeping track of the sheep and lamb ear tags. They also had the job of opening the gate for escaping victims. Annie gave the shots. I administered the worming drench by mouth. Greg caught and dropped the ewes for a tag team of large sheep.

The barn was dark and cool for our session, but we soon worked up a sweat that also reeked of sheep pee mixed with lanolin and mud. I think it's the measure of true kinship when your neighbors, and old friends from another life, will stand along side you for a worming and hoof trimming session. Get's you all excited to come and help doesn't it?!

If only it were this quick and easy to get into vet school!

Photo: top, wormer and shots all at the same time; bottom, sheep worming x 2 (except the legs shooting straight up in the air make them look dead!)

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