Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Big few days, the sheep and cattle set off on their journey to Tassie. The first wave of the Great Migration.

On Saturday Steve Vickers (of Vickers Animal Health) came and helped with the vaccinations and other husbandry because my knee is still iffy and there's nothing like wrestling sheep to abuse a knee. He did the ear tags and vax for the cattle and then helped with the drenching, tagging and feet trims for the sheep.

Here are DH and Steve trimming Turtle's feet ( he's too small for the tipper).

And here are DH, Steve and DH's youngest son doing Medea's feet in the tipper.

Steve does travel a bit so if any of you Aussie livestock wranglers need a hand let me know and I'll pass on his contact details.

On the Sunday the decision was made to euthanaise Max, the oldest ewe. She was losing condition despite being on free feed hay, and was struggling to get up because of arthritis. It was decided that she wasn't likely to survive the trip and wasn't likely to last long with her condition falling.

At around the same time Max passed, Molly gave birth to twins. One boy and one girl. We sent the boy with Steve to hand raise because Molly only has one side left on her udder and it wasn't going to be possible for us to hand raise a lamb this time around during the move.

Both the sheep and cattle were given a good dose of Tranz, electrolytes, minerals and vitamins that allegedly help with the stress of moving.

Today Dave from Dick Smith Transport came for the flock and herd. The truck was bigger than I expected !


The portable yards did the job again, great investment. I can't imagine working sheep without at least a decent set of yards. The tipper and the ramp are the icing on the cake.

The sheep all loaded in good order, despite the steep climb up the ramp. The driver put Molly and the ewe lamb in a separate compartment so the little one wouldn't get stepped on. They'll be held at the local depot for a week or two until the lamb is big enough to go on the long trip to Port of Melbourne.

We loaded the cattle from next door's yards as our loading ramp isn't heavy duty enough for cattle. They were pretty relaxed, taking their time up the race.

While we did need some pushing and poking to get the last couple into the truck as the compartment was becoming a little more crowded, at no time did the driver suggest getting a cattle prod or act in any way besides calm and patient. More than happy to recommend the company.

It was pretty tough watching them drive away, a bit like sending your kids to boarding school I guess. I look forward to seeing them at the other end !

Page Transport will take over at Port of Melbourne and get them across the Bass Strait, and then delivered from Devonport to Scottsdale. Travel safely little ones !

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

There are very strict rules on the import of animals into Tasmania, to keep the quarantine of weeds and diseases. One of the rules is that sheep must have either less than one inch of wool or be certified not to have any vegetable matter in their wool. With the speargrass here, there was no way that certification would happen. So ... everyone got shorn !

Including the lambs, as they had more than an inch of fluff. This is Ticky, he's so small the shearer really struggled to hold him as he couldn't tuck a leg under his arm or behind his knee.

Willy was included. Despite his conviction that he is a dog and not a sheep, the quarantine guys weren't having any of it and he went for his haircut along with the rest. I would have liked to keep his first fleece, but I couldn't import it off the sheep for the same reason I could take in on the sheep. The shearer assured me his second fleece would be his best.

He looks very different shorn ! More like a little white deer. The dorpers are so short and stocky, and look much the same with a coat as without, but Willy's change was fairly dramatic. You'll note his tail is docked, something we don't do to the dorpers and wouldn't have done to Willy, but the lower half of his tail didn't have nerves connected and was so long he was catching it on stuff. So we took it off above the dead point and left him a fair bit more than most sheep keep so he could swish flies.

And because he's lost all that wool and the weather has turned so nasty and cold (sheep graziers alerts) Willy (being special) has his own coat for the nights. The other sheep are not sure about this coat, especially as he shares the night quarters with them. The carport is a cold weather stall for all the flock and is knee deep in hay and he looks and smells funny, but need makes strange bedfellows and they are all getting a lesson in tolerance.