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Shipping bred ewes?


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I'm looking to purchase some quiet, dog-broke ewes and have located some, but they're in an adjacent state. (I'm used to that, living in WV.) The problem I see is that they are bred and will lamb at the end of March / beginning of April. How far along in a ewe's gestation would you be comfortable shipping her 4-5 hrs to a new home? These ewes are very fit and healthy, and are used by working sheepdogs on a daily basis.




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Hi Debbie,

Since no one else has responded to your question, I'll give it a stab. Personally I would not ship bred ewes if they are late in gestation. You're right on the edge if the ewes are due to lamb in March, unless it's late March. That said, sometimes it can't be helped and sheep need to be shipped. In that case, I would make sure that the shipping process is as stress-free as possible, that the sheep have plenty of room on the trailer, and that they are shipped from point A to point B as quickly as possible. I would also make sure that I fed them the equivalent of whatever they were being fed at home. Late in gestation is not a time to be making drastic nutritional changes. (For example, I bought a flock of sheep with two other people, one of whom lived several hours away. I had the sheep for maybe a month before she came to get them and was feeding them a custom feed mix from a local mill. She took her group home and started feeding them corn and ended up with every single ewe with ketosis. I think it was the result of the stress of moving them and especially the change in feed to something a little lower in quality (and protein). None of the ewes who stayed here had any problems, and we pretty much randomly selected the ewes she would take, so it's not as if she took only high-risk sheep or anything.)


Anyway, if you need to move them, just do it carefully.


And now that I've posted a response, perhaps some other folks will notice this thread and hop in with their opinions. Bill?



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Hi Julie,


Just as you predicted, I did notice this thread and I do have an opinion. Big surprise on the second part, eh? ;>)


If you can get the shipping done right quick, you're probably good as far as their welfare during the trip. But you need to be aware of the amount o stress that travel, change of diet, and change of surroundings can have on sheep. If the ewes are used to rides on trailers, the trip itself will probably not be a big stress on them. If not, it could be huge. A five hour trip also probably means a change of climate as well, which would be a stress even if the climate is "better."


The main things you want to watch for are signs of pneumonia and metabolic disorders. Find out what they've been getting for feed and change it as little as possible as gradually as possible.


We bought a group of 150 ewe exposed lambs and shipped them 12 hours including an international border crossing vet check in the third month of their pregnancy without difficulty. 90 of them lambed, which is about what the source flock predicted. I have trucked ewes within a couple of weeks of lambing without ill effects. In my opinion, the most risky time to the pregnancy is in the first month or so.

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