At Shikmim Sheep farm the Agrostudies interns are experiencing a thorough training in caring for lambs and sheep, from birth and onwards.
Psyrah Terrod shared some of the experiences of her time at the farm.
“Every morning I have to make sure that all the lambs are alright, that’s the first thing”. Young lambs are very prone to different kinds of illnesses and sadly, losing one of these cuties is not wholly uncommon. The interns learn to recognize different types of diseases and treat them. For example, Psyrah has become an expert on the type of antibiotics that the lamb needs to received depending on the symptoms it is exhibiting. “You have to see if they have weak legs. There are a couple of ways to tell. First of all they get inflamed and swollen joints in their legs sometimes, and that is easy to see as it looks different. But also, if they stand and we tap them and they fall, that would be considered weak legs”. So she is trained in giving them the antibiotics they need.
Also, identifying pneumonia is lambs is important, as this can be a real killer. Good sign to notice: rough breathing. Diarrhea? There’s another type of antibiotic for that as well as preventative measures, and by this time in the conversation I’m ready to certify Psyrah as a veterinarian.
“Recently some lambs have looked like they’re bloating. Their stomach, when you touch it, it’s really hard and big. It simply doesn’t look normal. Dan, whom I work with, uses a feeding tube and water to release the gas in their stomach and relieve their pain. We also use a feeding tube to help the weakest lambs that are not able to eat by themselves. This way we make sure they have some milk in their stomach”.
Newborn lambs are put in special boxes with a unique type of feed that is tailored for the newborns. After a while, when they are old they are moved to the other side to another box with a regular feed and once they are strong enough to manage in a group – and this means that they are able to demand food for themselves from the other sheep, they are put in the group pen.
Every time a lamb is moved it is the responsibility of the interns to clean the box and sanitize. They make sure it is cleaned with chlorine to kill all the bacteria and the box remains empty to dry in the sun for a few days.
In addition to caring for the lambs Psyrah has also learned to milk the sheep. “Sometimes it’s tough because I have to empty the sheep’s udder and some are really huge. But it’s enjoyable too, it’s really fun. Every time we open the milking room, we have to coax the sheep inside. If we forget to put food in their trough in the milking room, some of the sheep won’t want to go in. They can really sense it.
“It’s interesting, every day, because there are challenges. We had a few lambs die over the last couple of weeks so we were under pressure to really ensure all the lambs are healthy and doing well. Thankfully they all are now. They are also very cute, so it’s nice to work with them.”