Taking Care of Old Sheep in Winter

Cocoa. Foxfire Fiber
This is Cocoa. She turns 16 this month which is ancient in sheep years. Cocoa has a special place in our hearts as she happens to be one of our first-ever sheep which makes her our flock matriarch. After a decade of lambing (including sets of triplets and quadruplets) she is still going strong, except for her teeth. Years of grass-grazing and ha -munching have worn her incisors (the front teeth) crookedlly, some of them right down to the nub givng her the gap-toothed smile of a jack-o-lantern.Last fall Andy performed some dentistry on her, to even out her bite. It helped some with grazing. Her grinding molars in the way back of her mouth seem to be operating well. I can't see them, but I can tell by the way she crunches and munches on grain.

This winters's proven hard on her – she's had trouble pulling hay from the manger. When she grabs a mouthful from the feeder, you can hear the blades of grass slide through her gums. When we noticed a delcine in her condition we started supplementing her with high protein alfalfa cubes from the feed store. They are compressed alfalfa hay in nugget form. We dump a handful into a pan, soak them in hot water to soften them up, like a bowl of shredded wheat cereal. Cocoa can't wait for us to place the bowl on the floor inside her pen. She stands on her hind legs, with her forelegs perched on the rungs of the blue panel.

Who doesn't like a hot breakfast on a cold morning?

Alfalfa cubes for Cocoa's Breakfast. Foxfire Fiber

Later this week we begin shearing, starting with our rams and wethers. They'll be kept indoors after their haircuts, until they've grown a bit of fleece. Hopefully by then, the season will take a turn for the warmer. I'll post some pics to share with you.

Cocoa and our other "grannies" will wait until milder days in April for their spring haircuts.

Happy Monday to all.