Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Why do they do the things they do?

This is Wolf Moon Findabar, a.k.a. Shebaa. She's one of my
favorites as well as my oldest Classic Cheviot ewe. Her lamb
is Wolf Moon Fosco, who is now a grownup ram

“It profiteth the lord to have discreet shepherds, watchful and kindly, so that sheep not be tormented by their wrath but crop their pastures in peace and joy-fulness; for it is a token of the shepherd’s kindness if the sheep not be scattered abroad but browse around him in company. Let him provide himself with a good barkable dog and lie nightly with his sheep.”
- from a 13th century Corpus Christi mystery play

I recently posted a collection of goat behavior resource links to my goat blog and readers seemed to like it. I have a request for next week's sheep blog but no time or assistance to take the necessary photos, so I'm adding this sheep behavior links entry in the meanwhile. You can never know too much about what inspires sheep to do the things they do. Check out these free resources. I think you'll be glad you did.
I can't recommend Dr. Clive Dalton's Woolshed1 blog highly enough. Dr. Dalton studied agriculture in the United Kingdom before teaching animal production at Leeds University. He then immigrated to New Zealand to do hill country animal research and work at the Ruakura Research Centre in Hamilton, New Zealand, before accepting an agricultural teaching position at Waikato Polytechnic, also in Hamilton. Now retired, Dr. Dalton is technical editor at Lifestyle Block New Zealand, a great source of information about sheep, goats, and many other species and small farm issues. He also writes the Woolshed1 blog. Sheep behavior-specific entries include Origins: Senses: Social behaviour: Feeding; Reproduction: Lambing: Lamb survival: Fostering; and Handling: Sheep-human problems: Welfare issues. While you're there, investigate his entries about goat, cattle, pig, horse, donkey, and chicken behavior; you may have to scroll down the page to read them.

As a younger ewe, Shebaa grew most wonderful fleece
and always produced outstanding lambs

Susan Schoenian's Sheep 101 and Sheep 201 pages are chock-full of useful information for beginning and intermediate shepherds. Read her behavior entries here and here.
The Saskatchewan Sheep Development Board's well-written and concise, two-page download, Sheep Behaviour, would make an excellent handout for new shepherds.
The University of Tennessee's 24-page download, Applied Sheep Behavior, is another above-average resource.

Now, nearing 10 years of age, Shebaa is
retired to a life of ease

Sheep – Chapter 3 of Judith K. Blackshaw's book, Notes on Some Topics of Animal Behaviour is downloadable as a five-page bulletin. Don't miss this; it's good one!

Finally, don't miss my personal favorite. CABI is an international, not-for-profit science-based development and information organization that improve people’s lives by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. Their 16-page download The Behaviour of Sheep and Goats is outstanding.
If you would like to request a sheep-related topic for this blog, please email me at

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