Let’s start with the happy news: I am now able to work the dogs on the sheep again and they love it – the dogs that is, I am not sure about the sheep! We have four lovely Jacob ewes, in a week we are collecting a Jacob ram to tup them and we are looking into buying another 4 Jacob ewes that were born this spring (they won’t get tupped).
We don’t have the Suffolks anymore. We called the knackerman last week and he was going to come around today and kill the remaining two. However, one of them died in the night – it was definitely time for them to go.
The knackerman came round. We had put the last Suffolk in a corral, some of the kids had petted her and fed her grass. When he came to shoot her (he uses a captive bolt type thingy) we gave her a bucket of food. I like to think she died happy although he needed two goes as her skull was so hard the first attempt glanced off.
I was planning on butchering the Suffolks myself to feed to our dogs, but honestly I had had three long days working in London and I was knackered myself. In the end we opted for the knackerman to take the sheep away – I would only have fed the one he killed to the dogs, I don’t feed animals who die of unknown causes to them. The knackerman said there wouldn’t have been much meat on them anyway.
I don’t feel bad, they had great lives. I can now concentrate on the Jacobs who are doing well and who are easier for the dogs to work. I have learnt though that animals (well sheep) shouldn’t necessarily be kept until old age. I think it would have been kinder and much more sustainable to have killed and eaten them a number of years ago, but that wasn’t our decision to make.
N.B. I haven’t worked the dogs on the sheep for a while as I have been worried about the Suffolks and didn’t want to stress them. We won’t work the dogs on the pregnant Jacobs – this is why we are getting 4 younger ones so the dogs can continue learning on them.