A Sheepdog's Duties - 1steemCreated with Sketch.

in homesteads •  last year

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Not all "farm dogs" herd sheep for work, and herding sheep is not the only work farm dogs do.

Bella is a German Shepherd, built to work steadily and comparatively slowly, her preferred job is to guard rather than herd.

Indeed, the truth is that despite her size and strength, my sheep know her well as friend and protector, but have very little regard for her authority over them. The lambs will follow her, their mothers will trustingly allow them, and turn their backs to graze in peace. Lambs can be exhausting charges.

The lamb in the photo, a Wensleydale whose mother makes an annual gift to me of a day-old lamb. She gives birth easily and washes the lamb with great gusto. Then she nudges it firmly and continually at both Bella and I. I'd prefer lambs to stay with their mother, but this lady is determined. She will let me milk her so the lamb gets the early supply of cholostrum, essential to pass on mum's immunity, but she will not feed it directly or even care for it. Why, I do not know. In earlier days she was a perfect mother, shown on my avatar and below.
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Bella gives in to her demands first. Quietly she lies down and nuzzles the lamb against herself, as it is on the hearth rug above. Oddly, the lamb never looks for milk from her foster mother, but will sleep against her warmth and skip by her side for a month or so. Quickly it learns to seek milk in a bottle from me, then head for comfort from Bella.

Happy with this arrangement, its real mother heads off to rejoin the flock. She'll see her baby daily and half-heartedly bleat a welcome without lifting head from grass. But when the lamb is weaned, she willingly takes it back and encourages it to sleep and graze at her side.

Hmmm.... Have I made a few mothers envious out there?

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I've never thought of sheep dogs doing anything other than herding sheep before. I can see how they offer protection to a flock and especially orphan lambs, but I can also see how the dog could be labelled a softie for trouble and have the sheep not show her respect when she later tries to herd them. She's a beautiful dog and obviously doing a grand job!

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Yes. Thats very true, she's a soft touch and they know it. Lying down with something to keep warm is far more her style running around a field! Thanks for your comments.

All personal (not copy-pasted etc) comments upvoted

Hmmm.... Methinks I would have been handed over with a dog to look after me if mum had had the opportunity. "Smart sheep" she would say. Apparently I cried more and slept less than any other baby in the world. :-( Bella is a beautiful dog. I suppose to the lamb she is roughly the right size and colour to be accepted as a surragate mother. Does she become very protective?

thanks for sharing keep it up

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👕👍Great!
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Thanks faissalchahid

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You welcome

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Thanks shihabieee

What a great dog to Mother the baby on a part time basis. Have never heard of a creature willingly giving up her young then taking it back when weaning time comes around. 🐓🐓