Wednesday, 13 January 2016

How Long Is a Piece of String - The Art of Rearing Animals

Our animals are always at the forefront of our minds. As beginners, we are constantly asking our more experienced mentors for advice on how to best take care of our animals. The bigger the animal, the more complex the questions and the more contradictory and confusing the answers.

Our heirloom sheep that are kept outside all year long, for example. When should we shear their wool?
  • Various bloggers and enthusiasts: "Shear them right before they give birth, otherwise their lambs won't be able to nurse."
    • Mentor 1 with hundreds of primarily meat-producing animals: "Make sure to shear them twice a year to avoid the wool getting too long and weighing them down when they get wet."
    • Mentor 2 with hundreds of heirloom sheep: "Shear them around midsummer, that's when they naturally start molting. That a lamb won't be able to nurse unless the mother is shorn is complete nonsense!"
    Conclusion: Oh well, let's just go with mentor 3. And it will be a cheaper and easier option rather than trying to shear (a non-molting) sheep twice a year.

    My sister summed up our woes and worries with rearing animals: How long is a piece of string? You hear one thing, read another, then just have to work it out yourself... Cross your fingers and hope for the best.

    7 out of 8 sheep, all glorious wool and curly horns

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