Sarto Sheep Farms
Sheep Sense
Manitoba Sheep Association Quarterly Newsletter
April 2017
It's spring time and for some of you that means busy lambing season is in full swing. With large amounts of rain last fall and lots of snow this winter, some of us are also dealing with a lot of water and mud! Whatever your situation, we hope you can take some time to read through this newsletter and get updated on everything that is happening within MSA. I hope you will find this newsletter both educational and helpful!
Leah Bouchard
MSA Communications Representative

MSA News and Updates
By Leah Bouchard

There has been a lot happening within Manitoba Sheep Association in the last several months.
In February, MSA hired a new Office Manager. Lee Hurton will be responsible for all administrative and book-keeping duties. She will also be the new contact person when you phone or email MSA.
Several new board members have been appointed. Guy Bouchard is the new Eastern director. Angela Adamson-Viola is the new director for Western Region. And Colin Hunter has been appointed director at large. The Interlake Director position is still open. Please let us know if you have someone to nominate for the position.
In other news, Mamoon Rashid, who has been the Sheep and Goat Specialist for Manitoba Agriculture the last 11 years has left the position as of early April. We appreciate all he has done for our industry and we wish him all the best as he pursues a new venture with Florida State.
Lastly, I have been hired as Communications Representative for MSA. I will be taking responsibility for the Sheep Sense newsletter and keeping you informed with facebook and website updates. My husband and I, (and our two boys) farm in southeast Manitoba. We run a small flock of Rideau and Rideau cross ewes and I do a lot of work with our wool, quilting duvets.  I am looking forward to staying connected with everything that is happening within the sheep industry and communicating it with all of you. Please let me know if there is anything in particular you would like to see in the newsletter. I am always open to suggestions!
Upcoming Events--Annual Show & Sale
This year Manitoba Sheep Association is once again hosting our annual Show and Sale. This year we are returning to Carberry Agri. Grounds August 18th and 19th. New to this year, will be the ability to sell animals without showing them, as well, we are looking to include more commercial ewe prospects with either pens of 3 or pens of 5 ewe lambs or yearling ewes. All animals will still be required to pass the Culling Committee. Entry forms for this year's Show and Sale will be available shortly online or by contacting our office at 204-421-9434. If you are interested in volunteering to help at the Show and Sale please contact Colin Hunter at 204-724-3797.

Canadian Sheep Breeders Association Update
By Sarah Lewis
Firstly I would like to thank Neil for his years on the board and all the work hosting the Classic in Winnipeg. 
Being the Canadian Sheep Breeders Association Representative is a new chapter for me after many years on the MSA board. Our family runs Cross Creek Farm where we raised purebred North Country Cheviot, Dorset and Suffolk along-side our commercial flock.
This year's AGM was held in Victoria BC March 16th-19th. The meeting prior to AGM gave me a good chance to get up to date on what the board has been involved in. Bulk registration discounts and free one year membership to first time purebred buyers are just a couple of the projects. Lorea Tomsin was a great host who gave a great tour of a few flocks in the area. Farming is very different in the Victoria area with small parcels of pasture located amongst housing areas. The weather was quite good but with the cool temperatures, trees and flowers were about three weeks behind.
I look forward to seeing the industry grow in the province and helping our provincial organization with events involving the purebred sector.
Website Updates
We are updating the MSA website. If you are a Manitoba Breeder and would like to be added to the Breeders list or change your information on the website, please contact us with your new information. Thank you!
 Grain and Pregnant Ewes
 By Rob Berry
The ewes' nutritional requirements dramatically increase in the last 2 months of pregnancy due to fetus growth and udder development. 6-8 weeks before lambing the plane of nutrition should be increased. Introducing or increasing the level of grain fed to pregnant ewes should be done cautiously. The aim is to increase the level of energy intake without compromising the ability of the rumen to digest forage.  Ewes eating over a 1lb of grain at a feeding will risk acidosis in the rumen leading to a reduction of intake in subsequent days forcing the ewe to utilize body reserves of fat and especially protein that she needs during lactation. Acidosis can also damages the ability of the rumen wall to absorb nutrients leading to further problems with nutrient supply. The protein required by the fetal lambs usually exceeds dietary supply in late pregnancy. Feeding  protein supplement  which does not degrade easily in the rumen is advised as it directly addresses the late pregnancy protein shortfall. Depending on availability consider distillers dry grains or canola meal as both are reasonably priced.
  • Introduce grain slowly starting of 0.25 lb  per day and working up to the full grain level over 10 days
  • Feed no more than 0.75 lbs of grain per feeding.  This may mean feeding grain more than 3 times per day for flocks with large breed ewes with multiple lambs
  • Total amounts of grain should not exceed 2.5 lbs. If rations require higher amounts of energy and protein supplementation, source higher feed value forages. It is vital that enough bulk in the form of forage  is going into the rumen to maintain the intake capacity she will need during early lactation
  • Don't over process grain as it increases the risk of acidosis. Corn can be fed whole as it digests slower than other grains
  • Do provide enough feed space per ewe. Larger and more ewes will shove smaller sheep away from feed to monopolise their access to the grain and greatly increase the risk of acidosis. Provide at least 3 feet of feed space for every 6 ewes
  • Depending on the level of protein in the forage, feed a protein supplement such as distillers dry grains at a level of 0.25-0.5 lb per head /day in with the grain
Code of Practice
This is a section out of the Canadian Sheep Code of Practice that all producers must comply with. To see the Code in its entirety visit
or contact your district's Director to receive a paper copy of the Code of Practice

5.4 Shearing and Crutching
  Shearing has been shown to be stressful for sheep; however, a bulky fleece can interfere with the mobility of sheep and predisposes them to casting.  It also helps to minimize external parasites, wool blindness and fly-strike (43). Having too much wool increases the susceptibility of the sheep for overheating.
Shearing must be done at least annually.  Crutching is commonly done prior to lambing.  In some situations additional trimming at  other times of the year to prevent fly-strike or wool blindness may be desirable.  Shearing may be done using hand operated shears or powered devices (e.g. electrical).
Taking animals off feed and water for six to 12 hour prior to shearing will reduce rumen and bladder fill thus reducing the animal's discomfort and soiling of the shearing area which can be a safety concern. This will also reduce the restraint time because the sheep are less likely to struggle.
Shearing must be performed by, or under the direct supervision of a competent shearer, using techniques designed to minimize animal stress (44). (See Section 5.1 Handling, Grouping and Moving Animals).   It is important to be aware of the risk of spreading disease between flocks or between animals within a flock during shearing.   All shearing equipment and clothing that moves between farms with the shearer must be cleaned and disinfected between flocks at a minimum            and disinfected between animals within a flock if there is known disease transfer risk.
Shearing removes the most of the insulation used for protection from bad weather, wind and solar radiation.   Wool also protects sheep from biting insects.   Therefore, it is important to consider the time of year, expected weather, local insect seasons and available shelter when planning shearing.
In Canada, accessing professional shearers can be challenging in some areas, so it is important to plan ahead (45).
All wool sheep must be shorn at least annually and as frequently as necessary, to mitigate animal health and welfare concerns. Shearing must be performed by, or under the direct supervision of a competent shearer using techniques designed to minimize animal stress and injury. Shearing of pregnant ewes in the last month of gestation must only be done by an experienced shearer. All shearing related injuries must be attended to promptly and according to the flock health and welfare plan. Farms must have a suitable area that can be set up for shearing that is adequate in size, clean and well-lit to ensure the well-being of both the sheep and the shearer. All shearing equipment and clothing that moves between farms with the shearer must be cleaned and disinfected between flocks at a minimum and disinfected between animals within a flock if there is known disease transfer risk. When planning shearing, producers must take the time of year, expected weather, local insect season and available shelter into consideration and take steps to prevent the potential negative outcomes associated with shearing (e.g. hypothermia, sunburn, biting insects, health problems).
a. consider using a cover comb or comb lifter to leave an insulating layer of wool, if shearing must take place during poor weather conditions or shelter is limited
b. provide extra feed, shelter and shade for sheep after shearing
  c. take steps to reduce rumen and bladder fill prior to shearing
d. crutch full-fleece ewes if they cannot be shorn prior to lambing.

Using Hay Nets to Feed Sheep
By Leah Bouchard
Finding the perfect feeder and implementing efficient feeding processes continually challenge the small sheep farmer. Budget, time spent feeding and hay wastage are factors constantly in tight balance
We decided to try hay nets for our sheep this winter. Mesh hay nets are designed to reduce hay wastage by providing small holes (1-1.5 inches) for animals to feed from. They are made of knotted nylon and designed to be quite durable. Our round bale hay nets ranged in price from $200-$300.
We experimented with a large round bale net and also a small square bale net, both with 1.5 inch holes. Here is a report of our experience:
Round Bale Net
  The sheep easily could feed from this net. We fed hay in a net alongside our regular metal sheep feeders and  we noticed no difference in their preference. In fact, they even seemed to prefer the net.
We also noticed significantly less hay wastage. The sheep cleaned up the hay in several days, and there was next to none left over in the net when they were done. Because the hay was contained, they were also not able to trample any  into their bedding.
It took slightly longer to feed. Putting a bale in the net and tying it up securely takes about five to 10 minutes extra. However, we noticed that we did not have to spend time every day forking hay so the sheep could reach. In dry conditions, the process of putting the bale in the net went smoothly. However in muddy spring conditions, working with the net can be very unpleasant.
Small Square Net
We used the small square bale net for one of our smaller breeding groups. After we filled the net with hay, we hung it up on the fence and the sheep could eat from it as long as possible. When the longer tougher stalks were all that remained, we were able to reuse those by dumping them over the fence to the cows. So there was no wastage at all from this net.
The net needed to be hung off the ground so sheep couldn't trample on the hay. This required extra time during feeding.
Hay bags with large openings, shouldn't be confused with hay nets that have smaller holes. Although the bags are significantly cheaper, large openings can be very dangerous and pose strangulation risk. During the two months in use, we did not have any safety issues with the nets. When I spoke with a representative from 'Nag Bags,' she cautioned against the use of hay nets with sheep that have horns. It is also important to make sure the nets are tied up properly and safely, to pose no danger to sheep or lambs.
Putting hay in nets does take extra time in the feeding process, but if done correctly, they can be an effective, and economical option for feeding sheep.
For now, we have decided to put the nets aside for the muddy spring, and will use them selectively throughout the year when we need an extra feeder. We are considering buying a couple more for breeding season next winter.
 There are no easy options when it comes to the perfect feeding solution, but we have realized that hay nets are definitely a viable option.

Recipe: Grilled Lamb Chops
Barbeque season is around the corner. Make sure your first grill of the year is Lamb!

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (Or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 lamb chops (about 1 1/4 inches thick)
Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub mixture evenly over both sides of lamb chops. Cover and allow to marinate in refrigerator an hour or so.
Prepare grill to medium high heat.
Place chops on heated grill and grill 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

New Mailing Address
  Please note that MSA has a new mailing address:
Manitoba Sheep Association
5203 Clarence Rd
Narol, MB
R1C 0B8

In This Issue
Quick Links

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Manitoba Sheep Association | (204) 421-9434 | |
5203 Clarence Road
Narol, MB
R1C 0B8