A couple of weeks ago one of our Suffolk sheep was not well – in fact it was pretty poorly. We check our sheep in the morning and afternoon and it hadn’t got up all day. It was obviously not going to get better. We don’t want any of our animals to suffer so James called out the knackerman. We haven’t called out the knackerman before so this was a new experience. He came out straightaway even though it was very late afternoon. He checked the sheep over, said it was time and killed it where it lay with a captive bolt. He then took the carcass away. We were both pleased and grateful that he was able to come out so quickly. I wouldn’t have wanted the sheep to have to linger on for another night and day. It did cost £100, but it was worth it to sort the problem out, I guess
I was working in London so didn’t get to talk to him, but James said he was a very interesting man who was full of lots of useful information and advice. He reckoned our Suffolks were very old. He guessed at 16, but even allowing for a tendency of people to exaggerate it looks like our Suffolk sheep are very very old. They have also had a very good life. Apparently they can no longer properly digest the grass and hay and are losing weight and condition. The Jacob sheep who are kept with the Suffolks are in contrast positively thriving. One is so well that she has started to produce milk even though she is not pregnant (yet!).
We have a hard decision to make. When we took the Suffolks on we promised not to kill them. However, I don’t want to let any animal suffer. I think it is kinder to kill them now in a soft autumn than to let them live into what might be a harsh winter. I don’t want to get up one morning and find that they have frozen to death. We could try and give them extra feed, but this all costs money which we would prefer not to spend on sheep that we took on as a favour.
So we have decided to kill them. We have another hard decision to make. I don’t want any animal to go to waste. If the knackerman comes and kills them he will take the carcass away and they will be wasted. We could instead take them to the abattoir and then either eat the meat or feed it to the dogs. The abattoir is also cheaper than the knackerman. Maybe I will ask the knackerman if he can kill them here and then we can butcher them ourselves to feed to the dogs. He is the DEFRA person round here so will know all about the relevant regulations. We just have to decide on a date…..