So here is a little ditty I found in this book called The complete herbal handbook for farm and stable, written by Juiliette de Bairacli Levy. This was first published in 1952 and has such valuable gems inside it's very plain yellowed cover, that i tell you to buy this now!
Ok, so onto the ditty... My good friend and I were racking our brains one year about the worminess of our sheep. We wanted to avoid the chemical wormers and figured that an imbalance of some nutrient was key in this issue. Now I had this book well in advance of our worm dilemma, and had read the section on sheep remedies, but as is often the case of things, i forgot. My wonderful and oh so intelligent friend (from Meduseld Farm) called me one day to tell me about the use of iodine supplementation to keep the sheep "worm balanced". Of course Then i remembered reading something about this and when I went back to the book found a telling of island farmers that relegated the sheep to the shoreline to save the good grass for the cows. Well the sheep would eat the seaweeds and other sea plants as well as swim in the ocean to get to sea weeds just out of their reach. So the seaweed did several things. It gave the sheep the iodine they needed to help with the worms, My friend had found something that suggested that with enough iodine sheep could tolerate more copper in their diet which helps with wormload. In goats you supplement them with copper for worms, with sheep it will kill them. But it seems that the copper problem in sheep is with the lack of iodine in our iodine poor soils! Ironically enough thyroid problems in people abound in areas of iodine poor soils. Now The both of us were still afraid to add more copper to the sheep diet, the mineral block is usually how you supplement this but since the amounts are soo miniscule we were afraid to kill our sheep even with this information. The seaweed also gave the sheep extra A and vitamin D, 1000 times as much as cod liver oil. The salt from the sea on their coats also helped to keep parasites from the wool. So we decided a seaweed supplement was needed. There were many ways we found to do this, the simplest and most expensive was to buy Countryside Organics feed that had seaweed as well as a host of other great things for sheep. Option number 2 was buying Countryside Organics seaweed in 50# bags, and option number 3 buying something called source micronutrient for horses.
I went with the Source just cause I could find this at any feed store. Upon the application of this to their feed every morning I found that by the next day they had expelled a significant amount of worms. This pic to the left is somewhat gross but I took it to email my success to my friend at Meduseld. Only we could get excited over poo. Since you can never get all the worms out of your sheep, and I suspect they provide some service we have yet to uncover, I gave Source every day for as many months as it took 4 sheep to go through 3/4 of the large container, then only when I would see their poo clumping up. Poo Watch, coming to a sheepherder near you...
So a bear ate my sheep, its november and I just bought hay for the winter, what should I do with the Hay? Couldn't think of it right away, just lost my sheep man, Laverne and Shirley. The beginning of my triplet bearing wool queen sheep herd. Both girls had come from triplet bearing sheep, both had great, long, shimmering silky wool. The tears I cried formed rivulets of despair ruining my wool crocheted scarf. Even the bear stew i made couldn't wash away the bummed out-ness I felt. After weeks of shoe scuffing and slumping around, the looming stack of hay began to weigh on my brain. $3.75 a bail, $4 delivered x 50 bails, arghhh! The pain of waste layered onto my remorse. So along comes a good farmer friend in need of hay and I jump at the chance to recoup some of the money while helping out a friend. They come and get it, hauling it to a new home WITH sheep. I feel good again I have saved the hay at the very least! Then I read the pig book and how hay is so useful for layering into the hog pen....Lesson 2334-You can always use more hay.
So here it is the first book you should get when you are thinking of getting sheep. Living with Sheep by Chuck Wooster. Not scary and filled with practical advice to allow you to make a more informed decision. I love this guys writing and wonderful pictures. He writes from the heart, and from his own experience, allowing that you will have an experience all your own. Out of all the books I got on sheep this is the one that made the panic and anxiety go away and the joy of having sheep shine through!
Born in New Hampshire and raised in Maine, Eva's passion for living self sustainably began with Helen and Scott Nearing. Both were homesteaders who carved their lives from the land. Eva now lives in Eastern West Virginia, with her husband Dain and daughter Shayna, carving out her own life.