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Bottle lambs as kneeknockers?

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I know that the general opinion is that bottle lams are not good as trainingsheep because they don't really behave as "normal" sheep.

 

But just the other day I decided to take our 3 bottlelambs (strictly speaking no more, they are recently weaned of milk) from their smaller enclosure to a larger field. Expected them to follow me (and my bucket of feed), but getting into good fresh grass was more interesting. So I got Glàma to help me drive them to said field.

 

This went very well;they behaved as rather overdogged sheep (never worked them with a dog before). They move of the dog, and flee toward the nearest human. So I could wear them easily to where I wanted them.

 

This made me wonder if it would be a good idea to try and work them with Peli, the dog I am starting at the moment. My training group of yearlings is still pretty fast and flighty, and though it is possible to work them with Peli, I see the advantages of kneeknockers at this stage. Maybe those lambs could fit the bill.

Worth a try don't you think?

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Worth a try :). Since you have them anyhow. I'm sure you'll be able to tell if things start going in the wrong directions :0

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Although I avoid bottle lambs, at-the-time-novice David Henry bought a dozen of them to train his first sheepdog (Bess? Tess? sorry, her name flew out of my head) and went on to win big trials with her. They became a formidable team

 

Donald

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The problem with really dogged sheep and bottle lambs is that their behavior does not Show the dog when they make a mistake.THey do not have flight zones and FEEL like 'real' livestock so the dogs don't learn how their movement and pressure effect sheep. They can slice flanks, work close ect with no ill effect.

 

I see no problem using them some if only to show them different sheep are different but I believe FEEL is Huge and want my dog to develop that asap.

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My present problem is that the flight zone of my available sheep is, ahum, rather big ;).

I have to concentrate a lot on not having things degrade into chaos. So my idea was that using the bottle lambs I might have more chance to concentrate on the dog. But I do see your point Denice, and think it is a valid one.

 

I do have a third option, that is pack him in the car and drive to a friend of mine who has a group of more dogged sheep on his farm. Just a 45 min drive or so, so very manageable. His very first session was done there, and went rather well. So it is probably more prudent to take that route, at least for the next few sessions. I did a couple of sessions on my own training group, and it is doable, although difficult. He covers the sheep more or less, balances, and clearly wants to keep them to me. Maybe there is something to say for a steep learning curve....

 

By the way, got some sad news of this friend, he phoned me up today and told me one of his dogs was run over by a car last Saturday. Of course his most promising dog. I saw him work and was very impressed. A big loss.

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Yeah, what made it even worse was that the person who did it drove on, somebody else found the dog.

Recently insurance companies here are acknowledging that the worth of a trained stockdog is substancially more than the puppy price. But as the driver is unknown this doesn't help him. His livestock insurance apparently does not cover this.

At least he has more dogs, so he doesn't have to do without in de coming roundup season, this would have been the first of this young dog.

He spoke to the breeder of my Peli, a mutual friend of ours, and got a full brother of Peli as a replacement. Future replacement that is, both Peli and he won't be ready for the big work this autumn.

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You might try a couple bottle lambs with other lambs and see how the group reacts then. Might meet in the middle - calm the flighty sheep, add more feel to the group of bottle lambs. I am not saying not use them but I would not use them exclusively.

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Okay, well using them excusively was never the plan anyway. I was thinking more of a very temporary fix. It was so easy to wear them with Gláma that it made me wonder if they could be of use.

The bottlelambs have been in the same field as the training group the last couple of days, as I expected they have not been mingling.

To be honest I don't think that a mixed group would work in this case. I suspect such a group would split up immediately, lambs rushing me, yearlings fleeing at topspeed.

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We use our pet lambs as training sheep. We have about 20 of them now, yearlings up to 12 year olds- most of the ewes are out with mobs having lambs, and just come back to the house paddock later in the year, and the wethers hang out with our training sheep (cripples and random leftovers). So we have 30-50 sheep in the training paddock, and up to half of them can be ex-pets. Pet lambs go out with that mob as soon as they are off milk/milk replacement pellets, and we work them around with experienced dogs until they learn to stick with the other sheep.

 

They make reasonable training sheep for young dogs- the only issue is their tendency to lean on legs, and lack of brakes when being pushed too hard.

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Thanks for your reply mjk05. Sounds like you are running a slightly bigger operation than ours ;).

But there are similarities, our production ewes are in the hills now with their lambs over the summer, free range. Don't come back before the autumn roundup.

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Neither of your three option are exclusive. I'd use them all (flighty sheep, knee-knockers, friend's sheep) in proportions that give the puppy the most benefit.

 

So sad about the dog.

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Tried it succesfully today. Worked out okay. They respond well to the dog, moving off him (poor things, don't get much of a choice with this little landshark....) and flee to me for safety. Which I can provide, they are just 3 so I can reach over the group to discourage violence...

Easier to get to short stretches of wearing. But I have to be very vigilant, too close = gripping.

I also discovered that his away side is better than his come by.

 

NB, where is this strange idea coming from I would use one of my possible groups of training sheep exclusively during Peli's career? ;)

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Okay, well using them excusively was never the plan anyway. I was thinking more of a very temporary fix. It was so easy to wear them with Gláma that it made me wonder if they could be of use.

The bottlelambs have been in the same field as the training group the last couple of days, as I expected they have not been mingling.

To be honest I don't think that a mixed group would work in this case. I suspect such a group would split up immediately, lambs rushing me, yearlings fleeing at topspeed.

I had a couple of bottle heifers and three natural-raised heifers to work with one year when Celt and Megan were young (and I was much younger). As you noticed with the lambs, these girls did not tend to mingle. They might appear to do so when grazing but once I was out there with dogs, it was very apparent that they were two different groups of heifers.

 

What was very interesting was how Celt, who has a really good ability to read cattle and respond sensibly, used his ability to read these animals and then work them. He knew that the bottle heifers weren't "going anywhere" but that the non-bottle heifers would split for the barn at any opportunity. I might have him working all five but his eyes were on the one that he knew was the "team leader" of the three, and he would quite ignore the two bottle girls who never, ever, tried to leave the field.

 

The bottle-raised heifers worked really nicely off the dogs but had no problem coming up real close and personal to me, and wore beautifully, but did not pose much of a challenge in some ways. The naturally-raised heifers were flightly off the dogs, didn't want to come anywhere near me, and were constantly looking for a way to break to the strong draw of the barn.

 

So, while we weren't able to practice certain things very well, Celt's ability to read individuals increased as he became more and more discerning about what he had to watch out for with this diverse group - a strong, willful, and non-cooperative leader with two followers in the naturally-raised trio; and two, laid-back, casual, not-going-anywhere-on-their-own in the bottle raised duo.

 

I've known people who want calm and quiet stock for starting a youngster, and others who prefer faster, more reactive stock - I am sure each has something to teach a dog, and different handlers, as well as different dogs and different situations, can benefit from what suits them best.

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Exclusively was the wrong word maybe, I meant that using bottle lambs for a period may influence her feel, cast ect since they tend to be less reactive. I would mix it up - bottle lambs one day, different sheep another. Yes mixing the group will create a 'new different group' that may indeed split but at the correct stage of training this experience is good as well. My sheep are do not tend to be flighty being NCC, but mixing dog broke lambs and non broke lambs and some bottle lambs can make the group more stable or more reactive depending on the mix. I keep katahdins around simply for another experience for the dogs.

 

Mixing different breeds/ dispositions in a small space that a young dog can succeed I feel is a good thing. So the group of sheep worked is not exclusively one type/ disposition. I find a few lighter sheep in the group lighten up the whole group, more heavy sheep slow the group down. Obviously it will not teach your young dog good lessons if she / he can not be successful. Only you know your dog, your sheep, your situation so you have to do what works best.

 

With my young dogs I know what areas they excel and where there are more challenges so I try to work on the things that are challenging early. Exposing them to ways to deal with challenges then they more accept them and do not worry. For example the grandfather to the pups is uncomfortable in tight places with sheep. I expose all the pups early to working in a small space with appropriate stock then later it becomes easier for them. They say "OH I remember this, we did it before, no problem"

 

My criteria for the sheep and space we work in is that the pup is able to be successful if they are thinking and working appropriately. If not I need to adjust. I want a continual increase in confidence. Doesn't mean they don't do things inappropriate or that I don't correct I do. That is how they learn but I want them to be successful

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NB, where is this strange idea coming from I would use one of my possible groups of training sheep exclusively during Peli's career? ;)

 

From nowhere in your particular case. The thing is that nobody says "you must neva' use use bottle lambs at all for training." The key thing is you should not use them a lot or exclusively, so by asking the question, the exclusiveness or the 'alotness' was in the question by default. If you came here and asked "Should I buy bottle lambs for my puppy since I have no sheep", most people would have said absolutely no, and you'd walk off with the idea that one should never use them at all :).

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