Sheep, Shows and Sales

by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy

We are approaching the show season and I will try to discuss the do’s and don’ts. An old friend, Roger Snyder, unfortunately not with us any more, but for those that showed sheep over the years when he was traveling he will always be remembered. There wasn’t a trick Roger didn’t know. Some despised him because he was very competitive. He said he liked the carnival atmosphere. He had a big heart as well and appreciated a good sheep. Years back when my daughter Diane was showing the Countess ewe at the Junior Show in Des Moines, Roger walked by. We had fitted the ewe at home and Roger didn’t like the way she was being presented. He refitted her and the ewe was never defeated again and was Louisville Champion in the hands of Ben Huff. So much for the history lesson. History is important and demonstrates how showing sheep can get in your blood and how important it is to promote sheep and goats and how important it is to the breed to be represented.

The Katahdin breed struggled for years and some people within the breed still refuse to participate in shows or sales where there sheep are evaluated by a judge. We hosted the Katahdin Expo in Pipestone. At one point we were asked to hold our sheep so I started to apologize to one of the members stating if I had known we were having a show I would have made the ring larger. She countered, “Oh we don’t show the sheep we exhibit them.” Come on folks, what’s the difference?

Judging of consignment sale sheep is a necessary procedure as it helps set the sale order and makes it much easier for the auctioneers to have success in establishing a sale rhythm. It also gives buyers an additional evaluation of animals presented beyond their own. People from other breeds other than your own also have the opportunity to observe. The Mid West Sale in Sedalia in my judgement was an important show case for the Katahdin Breed, helping it attract new members and advancing the breed in other areas of the country.

Away from history and back to show business. For starters, if you are crossing a state line you need a health certificate, scrapie tags in sheep are always a requirement. All animals need some type of individual identification. Sheep need to be free of sore mouth, warts, club lamb fungus, abscesses and foot rot and healthy.

Sale sheep may require brucellosis testing of males and codon testing while not necessarily a show requirement.

If on the exhibition schedule it can become much more complicated. Animals that travel from show to show have additional problems. It is very easy to pick up sore mouth at a show. Some exhibitors will vaccinate for sore mouth well ahead of the show season if attending multiple shows. When returning from a show dipping feet in a formaldehyde solution 19/1 is a good idea to prevent picking up foot rot or scald. In shorn shows it is extremely important not to use other people’s tack including combs, shearing equipment, brushes, blankets and other equipment. A fungicide bath upon return home is indicated.

Feeding at the show, sometimes I am amazed at exhibitors offering full feed or grain. Why they don’t tip over from acidosis is beyond me. If you haven’t fed them well enough at home now is not the time to make up. Cut back on concentrates and a good quality grass hay with some alfalfa or clover is preferred. You don’t want them to gain in condition but you don’t want them to lose either. Status quo is just fine. Need to have baking soda available for acidosis and therabloat for bloat as well.

From a health status, you need to be ready. One should travel with your choice of antibiotics for respiratory disease and sulfa for diarrhea. Beware of drug withdrawal periods in terminal market shows and this may influence your treatment options.

About Ask-a-Vet Sheep

Veterinary services, procedures, biologicals, and drugs mentioned in this publication represent the personal opinions and clinical observations of the contributing author. They are in no way intended to be interpreted as recommendations without the consent of the producer’s own practicing Veterinarian. We strongly urge that producers establish a patient-client-veterinarian relationship that allows extra-label use when there are no drugs approved for treatment or if approved drugs are not effective. This procedure allows veterinarians to go beyond label directions when “prudent use” is necessary. The limited availability of drugs and biologics in this country is a major factor in restricting the growth of the sheep industry and allowing producers to compete in the world market place.
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