In this blog, EAPK member Becky Shultz of Prairie Lane Farm shares some tips and suggestions for preparing sheep for marketing and transport to sales.
Sale season is quickly approaching and we all begin to think about how to market and present our Katahdins. NSIP data has been submitted and we have selected our top individuals that will be the best prospects for other breeders. We like to choose animals with good EBVs and we also like them to prove themselves with their phenotypic performance.
Sheep consigned to summer sales will benefit from some advance preparation. We first check all animals for correct structure, correct mouths, and reproductive soundness. We like to halter the sheep and get them used to standing tied. Ideally, it would be helpful if they were all broke to lead. This really helps if you have to do a lot of moving at the sale site.
We prefer to wash all our sheep sale consignments. A clean, washed sheep gives a better first impression and this can reward you on the auction block. Our favorite cleaning soap is Dawn dish soap. Rinse thoroughly and brush all the tufts away. This can really help their appearance and will show their true color pattern. Color has nothing to do with production, but we often get requests for sheep with color. We blanket our sheep when wet. This cover just keeps them clean when traveling and eliminates the need to rewash when we get to the event. Make sure you have trimmed feet one to two weeks prior to the sale. Sometimes we have trimmed too close and this gives them time to recover.
If you are an established breeder that has attended many KHSI events, please be sure to welcome new consignors. Consigning and attending your first sheep sale can be compared to going to a new church the first time. If no one talks to you then you hesitate to go back. Attending sheep sales and finding out what breeders need for their flocks is a learning experience. When prospective buyers come to your pens, try to answer their questions. Offer to help them take the sheep out of the pens for inspection. It is very hard to evaluate foot structure in a bedded pen.
Feeding some grass hay while traveling can be beneficial. We have used a transporter for long distance (over 48 hours of travel). They often have extra requirements, so check in advance. They recommend starting electrolyte water two days before transport, then offer that same water during the trip. Consult your local veterinarian to see if any other treatments are recommended. Traveling in a variety of temperatures really can stress animals.
Finally, be sure and bring all the required documents for the sale. They will be listed by sale management in the sale rules. Find out if bedding is provided at the sale or if you are required to bring your own bedding.
We look forward to seeing established breeders and friends this summer at the sale, and meeting new people who also have a passion for our breed.
By: Becky Shultz, Prairie Lane Farm