Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tuning the Flock…

For those interested in adding a little pizzazz to their pasture, consider bells. Their attractive tones add a sense of musicality to a pastoral scene while also having a practical use (or two).

Longtime Premier consultant Gordon uses bells with his own flock of Ile de France ewes and lambs. On using bells, if the ewes are in his thick timber pasture, he can go to the front of the pasture, sit and listen for a minute. The bell tones will tell him exactly where his flock is located in the timber paddock.  

An added benefit is the angst it causes in coyotes. "Anything (that maintenance free) to disrupt or make a predator nervous is worth doing,"

Pete Arambel, co-owner of The Shepherd Magazine runs a flock of 6,000 head in Wyoming. He too uses bells—about 1 per every 25 ewes.

  • When grazing forested areas—it's easier to find sheep with bells than binoculars. 
  • The guardian dogs become accustomed to normal bell tones, but when a different sound is heard (such as a ewe being bothered by a predator) the dogs charge forth to investigate. 

Premier's 3 bell options. Ram, steel and brass. 

Per Pete—bells go on ewes in the Spring after shearing. Ewes new to bells dance around a little bit but eventually become accustomed to the bells.

How tight should the bell's collar be? You should be able to slide your hand under the collar. Too loose and the collar may come off.

A final benefit—your family and friends will think they look cool on the sheep (at least that's what Gordon says).