Saturday, April 30, 2011

How to Dock Lamb's Tails - in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

The first lambs to make their presence this year were an adorable set of twins we named Esther and Mordechai.  Can you guess their birthdate by their names?

When the lambs are about one week old, we dock their tails.  We've debated back and forth about whether or not we should leave the tails alone.  Afterall, "if God wanted them to have short tails, He would have created them that way!"  Well, maybe... if they weren't in captivity and could roam the hills to an area away from "flystrike".  Flystrike is a condition caused by the sheep's manure getting caught between the offending tail and their bottom.  Flies lay eggs in the manure and maggots can be seen crawling through the woolen area, causing open sores.  Gross, right?  This is why we dock the tails.  There are many things that are necessary to maintain for animals on a farm that wouldn't normally need to occur in the wild. Burning goat horns is another "necessity" for domesticated goats - but I'll save that discussion for another day.

Docking lamb's tails is much easier than it sounds.  We use a castrating device and castrating bands.

The bands look like green "cheerios" made of rubber.

The band is placed on the castrating tool and opened to the width of the lamb's tail.

We place the band about 3 inches from the top.  Enough to cover their "hole", but not much further. 

The lambs don't realize, at first, that the circulation is slowly being cut off from their lower tail.

However, after a few minutes, they run around trying to get away from the discomfort following behind them.  It doesn't last long.  Usually within an hour they are back to what they were doing before the ordeal.

It takes about 10 days to a couple of weeks for the tail to finally fall off painlessly.  When we notice that the lambs are sporting their new "tail-less-ness" we compete amongst ourselves to see who can find the lost tail.  Unfortunately, our dogs are usually the ones to bring home the "prize".  

And there you have it!  Easy as that!

Not quite as quick as "two shakes of a lamb's tail", but quick and easy nonetheless.
Happy docking!


  1. Thanks for posting that Joni. People like me do want to know! You make something intimidating look easy when you show step by step pictures. I'll be doing that in June Lord willing.

  2. If we can figure it out, ANYONE can figure it out. It only looks easy because it is - if it were hard, we'd figure out an easier way. Ha!

  3. great pictures Joni, I didn't know about the fly strike, learn something new everyday:)Hoping to get some lambs soon. Maybe from Dalyn...hint hint