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Questions for full time shepherds

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Sam has managed to find the right balance, I think. I have always had either too few sheep to train dogs or too many.

 

I did my best dog training when I had 12 ewes -- but I constantly had to go places to keep my sheep from getting to sour. Not enough sheep.

 

So I let the pendulum swing too far the other way. Now with 800 ewes grazing in two states, it's pretty hard to find the time to get dogs out for polishing.

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People have told me that Bill(that I wouldnt have the time for the dogs if I uped the number of sheep)...Steve and I were talking about scaling up the operation and moving...but it is true, more land, more sheep, more work. I am jealous though, I would kill for that kind of work for my dogs and myself. I love working the dogs and it makes me enough to eat (ok so my hubby has something to do with the eating thing to! ) But I think I could easily adapt to the other side of the coin too...ah well guess the grass is always greener on the other side eh?

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I'm not a full time shepherd so I can't comment on their schedule. I have about 60 head of commercial white-face wool sheep. In this part of the country, and maybe everywhere, wool sheep are more maintenance than the hair sheep that are so popular in this area. To me, the more like a deer a sheep looks like, the less maintenance (if your don't count fixing fences) and the more like a cow a sheep looks like, the higher maintenance. I wish I had more land for more sheep but I enjoy the sheep I have and spend a lot of time with them, as do the dogs.

 

Even for my small flock, there's good work for a dog in spurts. Like right now, I'm weaning the lambs and there's moving about of both groups to be done at least a couple of times a day due to my set-up. For other things, such as feeding, worming, vaccinating, foot trimming and shearing, and just general checking, the amount of dog work depends on your set-up, how much they need and the quality of care you want to provide. Also, since my operation is small, it's not cost effective for me to put a lot of money into expensive handling equipment. More dog work, effort, and time make up the difference.

 

The mental vs physical effort on the dogs' part varies depending on the time of year and situation. For example, the type of work during a drought year is different than during a rainy year. The dogs come to understand the jobs at hand and seem to feel a sense of responsibility. I think the positive effects the dogs get from the work can be thought of more in terms of overall job satisfaction rather than the number of hours of mental or physical stimulation it takes to keep them happy.

 

I know this doesn't really answer your question. Just a comment from my small operation perspective.

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Thanks all for your replys and starting a new thread within :rolleyes: it was actually very interesting to hear farm/ranch people talk!

 

Now I think about it, the two times I saw her completely worn out were when i did take her to stock. We didn't stay there too long but she was probably exhausted mentally. Physically, she could keep on going and going and...going

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