Monday 16 January 2012

coppering and frost

A trip over into Cumbria once again, I hadn't enquired what necessities required doing to the flock but I had presumed a fluke dose would be what was required. I had completely forgotten about the necessity to copper the sheep. It's strange the way the seasons vary so slightly from in-bye and out-bye.

Having recently being assisting to get tups off and setting ewes back to the hill it almost seemed too early to be coppering sheep. A job done half way through pregnancy, or ten weeks from lambing, I had overlooked the fact that some of the flocks I assist throughout the year have earlier seasons than others. There must have been a look of shock when the copper was brought out alongside the fluke dose for this particular flock.

I wont bore you with the reasons for and against the need to copper sheep, it ought to be catalogued on this page
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I was introduced to a new copper product, as you will see from the above link there are a variety of types, this to me is a new product but one which is undoubtedly designed for the job. The density of the liquid and the strong colour of it had me thinking back. Back many years to the original copper I used to administer to sheep in my early shepherding years. A product produced by "Youngs" which was called Swaycop. It came in individual syringes and was a thick paste which was injected under the skin of the sheep.
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The above product was also injected under the skin of the sheep (subcutaneous to the intellects out there), by means of an automatic syringe which would draw out the required dose from the attached bottle.

Life wasn't so simple way back in the Swaycop days. Each syringe had to have a needle attached to it, once used the syringe was discarded and another used on the next sheep, boy how we've moved on!

The memory that held strongest in my mind though was the viscosity of the copper used back then, 'twas thick stuff, so thick in fact that it was necessary to keep the syringes in your jeans pockets to keep them warm or the paste wouldn't run through the needle. On really cold frosty days a bucket of hot water sat in the sheep pens and the syringes found themselves chucked in it before being used to give the thick stuff a sporting chance of thinning down and running through the needle - must have been uncomfortable for the sheep having sludge administered under their skin.

Now we have one bottle capable of treating 50 sheep, an automatic syringe, no hot water necessary and not loads of disused syringes lying around at the end of the day - life really has moved on!

On the subject of cold, frosty days......
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that is exactly what the weather is gracing us with at the moment
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It is much appreciated by both man and beast
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Dry underfoot and good, healthy weather
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Hard to believe tho' that these photos were all taken in the afternoon, the sun had not managed to burn off the hoare frost or soften the ground. Much to my surprise later that afternoon I found myself in the company of two peewits. A beautiful sight and sound so early in the year. T'was so cold our bedroom fire found itself lit in an endeavour to get some heat into the house at night and hopefully prevent us from both coughing frantically (due to colds) when we hit the cold air in the bedroom, the competitiveness of the other half can get somewhat tiresome as he tries his hardest to cough the longest! I try equally as hard not to let the side down!