Animal Keeping for Smallholders Course at Balfron Good Start

UK - Ten budding smallholders spent the afternoon practicing catching, turning and weighing sheep in Balfron recently.
calendar icon 8 November 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

They were at the first of a series of sheep husbandry and welfare events organised by experts from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). Three more are planned for this month, two in Aberdeen and one at Dunlop in Ayrshire. They will deal with pigs, sheep and goats.

At the Balfron event a mix of theory and practical work saw the smallholders armed with the information and confidence to start keeping sheep. They discussed the merits and otherwise of the different and sometimes confusing breeds. There was also an opportunity to demistify the equally confusing terms used by sheep keepers and learn the difference between a gimmer and a hogg.

With health and welfare an equally important issue considerable time was spent on veterinary matters, with up-to-date information provided by vet Caroline Robinson, who works for the College's SAC Consulting Division in Perth. Sheep can suffer from an often bewildering array of diseases and parasites and Caroline discussed many of them. She described the signs of ill health and demonstrated treatments, finding the proper injection sites, dosing correctly and the proper way to trim a sheep’s hooves against foot rot.

In any breeding flock the males are as important as the females so the Tups or Rams were given the once over to ensure all the working parts were in good fettle. With Senior Consultant Siobhan MacDonald based in Portree and Consultant Jennifer Brown, from St Boswells, they went on to discuss tupping time and the practical considerations of feeding ewes during tupping and pregnancy. These can vary depending on breed and circumstances.

The Balfron event and similar training courses, which are funded by the Scottish Government as part of the Veterinary and Advisory Service, are being held on the subjects of sheep, pigs and goat husbandry and welfare. Limited space is available on the next courses which are:

  • Friday 15 November – Doonies Farm, Aberdeen – Pig husbandry and welfare for beginners
  • Friday 22 November – Doonies Farm – Sheep husbandry and welfare for beginners
  • Friday November – Dunlop Dairy, Dunlop, East Ayrshire – Goat husbandry and welfare for beginners
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