Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Strike one for the flies!

Bit of a worry this evening!  On the way home from the stables, I noticed a ewe in the field, looking rather uncomfortable.  She was laid down, but her head kept coming up sharply, then she'd lay it down again, she'd look up and look round, then get up, move away then lay down again.  Odd behaviour.  Then it dawned on me - Fly Strike.  Groans!

Now for those of you who don't know what Fly Strike is, I'll tell you.  The green bottle flies lay their eggs on sheep; they are attracted to soiled, damp fleece in which they lay their eggs.  The eggs hatch, and the grubs burrow down into the flesh to eat, literally eating the sheep from the inside out.  Disgusting, I think you'll agree and how nature can be so cruel at times, I will never understand.  As you can imagine it is extremely unpleasant and uncomfortable for the sheep, and they will eventually die, if it is left unchecked.  Management practices come into force here - not letting the sheep get soiled areas of fleece, i.e. dagging their rear ends, and the application of pour-on chemicals, which act as a deterrent to the flies.

Now Michael sheared our sheep six weeks ago, so they were due for their first application of pour at any time, but you have to act quickly if you suspect a case, as it is amazing how quickly the sheep will go down hill.  So it was all hands on deck.

One excited Collie - Cerys, our sheepdog, she loves working the sheep.


We have a set of hurdles permanently set up on the edge of one of our fields, so Michael and Cerys rounded them up and in they came; it's wondrous what happens when you also rattle a bucket!

We use different products each time so no resistance builds up.



Each animal is given three big 'squirts', one long one down its back and one either side of its bottom, this ensures even coverage, as the chemical sinks down through the wool and travels around the skin giving protection.


Although I think Michael got a bit carried away with some of them!  But that's the principle we work by.

The finished sheep.


As you can tell we run a small flock of mules here, and in the right hand corner of the above picture is our pedigree Texel Ram, you can't miss him really.

His pedigree name is Stoke Ash Onion, aka Mr Onion here.  He is the soppiest, daftest, loveliest ram we have had, and shouts to me when he hears my voice, not a nasty bone in his body.  A closer view -


And then they were off, not too much of a harrowing experience, I hope.


Happy to be back out in the field again.


Phew!  Thankfully we didn't find any fly strike on any of them, so maybe that ewe was just being 'bothered' by flies.  But we do have a fail safe, backup plan.  A tip that we learned from an 'old' shepherd, was to pour on diluted, but still strong disinfectant, over the affected area(s).  It has an amazing effect.  Instantly the maggots start to drop off, giving relief to the animal.  This usually cures the problem, then with an application of a pour-on, it saves the animal any further discomfort, and it (hopefully) recovers.  That's what the two bottles in the picture below are filled with.



Stats today -

Eggs produced = 11

Sales -
1 x Geranium plant £1.50
1 x Oregano herb plant - £0.50
1/2 dozen eggs £0.90

Expenses -
Nil

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