Broken-Legged Ram Weightbearing Again

One of the pasture rams somehow acquired a broken leg. How, I dunno. I previously witnessed a sheep that was sleeping with a foreleg under the fence get startled by a sudden loud noise (neighbor’s peacock), lept to her feet regardless of the fence that her leg was still under, and snapped her leg between the shoulder and the knee. This broken-legged ram, one of the slaughter rams that I’m going to take off one of these days*, is more gracile than sturdy, and therefore I had him marked for my freezer, and soon.

When I found him in the pasture, lower leg swollen and held off the ground in obvious pain, I was going to splint it as I had done previously and successfully with the broken-legged ewe. A 3-legged ram can run surprisingly fast. I didn’t want him to injure the leg further, so I left him alone. My only concession to his injury was bringing some hay into the barn every couple days along with some supplemental corn but, with the ongoing dry spell, the pasture was in pretty poor shape anyway and everybody could use the extra food.

During the last week, he’s been venturing out to pasture to graze with his flock mates again. He’s doing some weightbearing on the injured limb, although still walking with a limp. He’s about half the width of the other rams but, if the pasture improves with some rain, should rapidly put on weight.

Here’s the problem, though. Those rams should have been shipped off a couple of years ago but, due to dog attacks on my pregnant ewes, I had hardly ANY sheep left to keep the pastures eaten. The horse will, of course, eat grass but turns her nose up at forbs (broad-leaved plants), the sheep’s favorite. The ewes that were left were either very old and not carrying lambs that year because I hadn’t put them with the rams, and some very young ewes. In the meantime, I’ve lost another ewe this spring due to grass tetany.

I don’t want to bring in new genetics/sheep because I’ll have to go up north. Every time I’ve brought sheep in from out of state, I’ve had casualties**. Blue tongue virus is endemic here. The parasite problem is incredible. This little closed flock I have has been culled repeatedly for susceptibility to Florida super parasites and the result is that, even with worm-laden pastures, I never have to worm. Not even the lambs. It may take me 10 or more years, though, to get my ewe flock back to its original size barring further dog attacks.

In the meantime, the rams are keeping the weeds down, but….the feed is getting too expensive. *sigh* They come when called. They fight each other to see which ram gets to walk on either side of me. They’ve become individuals despite my best efforts to see them as walking meat. If we start getting rainy seasons again like we’ve had in the past, I wouldn’t have enough sheep to keep the growth in check. I’ll hold off on hauling the rams to auction for slaughter, again, and perhaps it will rain.

Yeah, I know. They aren’t really livestock at this point. They’re really pets.

*It doesn’t really seem very sporting to eat a ram that is so determined to live and survived what could have been a fatal accident in another sheep.

**I’ve never had casualties/bad luck sheep from AnnaRae Hodgin’s Tunis flock, which is what convinced me that Tunis were the sheep for me!

Photograph from Tunis Sheep Organization History.

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