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Restraining a sheep is the process of humanely putting the sheep into a position where it cannot move.

There can be many situations in sheep husbandry when different methods of restraint come useful. For instance you might want to physically examine it, cut its toes to prevent foot injuries or you might just want to separate it from the rest of the herd.

The two main methods of restraining a sheep are tipping it or tying it with various means.


Tipping a sheep: One person methodEdit

  1. One person sheep handling

    One person sheep handling

    Catch sheep (by choosing one sheep and pushing it into corner etc..)
  2. place one hand under the chin, pulling it up slightly to stop the sheep running away. Do not pull on the wool as this can damage the fleece and cause significant bruising.
  3. Place one hand on the sheep’s rump and push down gently but firmly. At the same time, pull the nose around towards the back legs on the other side of the sheep from yourself, still holding under the chin.
  4. The sheep should fall to the ground. Grasp the forelegs and pull upright into a sitting position so it is resting on its hip. This is the most secure position to ensure the sheep cannot run away in the middle of a procedure. Examinations such as physical examinations and foot paring may now be done.

Tipping a sheep: Two person methodEdit

2 people handling

2 people handling

This method is preferably used when tipping larger sheep such as rams, which can weigh over 100kg. Because...

  1. As before, catch sheep (how to catch it? eg. choose one etc)
  2. and place one hand under the chin, pulling it up slightly to stop the sheep running away. Do not pull on the wool as this can damage the fleece and cause significant bruising.
  3. The person holding the sheep maintains hold on chin, pulling around as before. Meanwhile, a second person grasps the rear leg closest to the person holding the sheep and pulls gently.
  4. The sheep should fall to the ground. Grasp the forelegs and pull upright into a sitting position so it is resting on its hip. Procedures such as physical examinations or foot paring may now be done.
    Gambrel

    Source: Sheep 201, http://www.sheep101.info/201/handling.html A Gambrel restrainer

Using a Gambrel restrainer: Edit

A gambrel restrainer is a plastic device designed to fit over the neck behind the head with places for the front legs to fit in next to the ears. This is a very useful device during lambing because it prevents the ewe from running away as soon as the lamb is born while still allowing the farmer access to her rear end if should help be required for lambing.

Gambrel restrainers are quick and easy to use, and are good when mustering. A sheep can be securely restrained, however because the back legs are free, the animal ia able to move short distances to shade and to kick away predators.

Tying a sheep:Edit

It is common for farmers to use a length of rope to tie sheep up. This is an acceptable method, however, bailing twine should never be used as it contaminates the fleece and cannot easily be removed.

A common method is to tie the two back legs and one front leg, leaving the other foreleg free. However, the animal has very restricted movement and is very vulnerable when tied like this. They can also free one leg and may travel a surprising distance on two legs!

Another method involves using a loop of string. Tip the sheep and pull the loop above the hocks of the back legs. Pull the section under the legs up and over the sheep's head, going between the front legs. This leaves the forelegs free and the animal lies in a position so it appears to be resting rather than dead, leaving it less vulnerable to predators.

General Things to consider when Restraining a SheepEdit

Remember: Never leave a sheep exposed when you have restrained it by tying.

If an animal falls behind when mustering, many farmers will choose to tie the animal up so that they can collect it later. While tying animal by three legs may be a secure method, it also makes the animal appear dead to potential predators such as crows, and unable to defend itself. For this reason, a gambrel restrainer or tying the back legs is a better option. 

Sheep which have been tied up should be left under a tree so that they are protected from the sun and hence reduce the risk of dehydration and exposure, while also protecting them from birds of prey.   

Do you feel ready to take the quiz on restraining a sheep? Click Here! 

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