If you plan on showing your sheep or would like to be able to move your sheep around the farm easily, then
teaching your sheep to lead will be helpful. It always helps to have a friendly sheep but sometimes that is not the
case. A good way to friendly up any sheep is to call it with a grain bucket. Some learn to come running pretty
quickly. Get them used to being touched and scratched all over while giving them a little treat and then slip on a
halter. However, some just need to be caught and a halter slipped on.
Once you get a halter on them, tie them to the wall and walk away to let them figure out about pressure, giving to
it, etc. on their own. Most sheep will catch on quicker, and learn faster,just being tied up and left alone to figure out
the rope. 20 -30 minutes sessions are a good start. Of course never get out of sight of them just in case they get
into trouble, get a leg hung in the rope, or flip upside down and need assistance. Just find something else to do in
the barn while they are learning that way they also get used to the activity around them.
When left tied they will pull for a while, then when they get tired they take a step up and they get relief from the
pressure. If you walkup close tothem, they pull back again. Step away, they relax and step up. They soon learn
that giving to the pressure of the rope gives them relief.
Once they have been tied forseveral hours over acouple of days, and you feel they are ready, start leading them.
Get a long rope as to not be really close to them to panic them and pull just to have a steady pressure. As soon as
they walk forward, or even jump,give extra slack in the rope. Give them a few seconds then apply pressure on the
rope again.They soon learn when you pull they should walk forward.
After a little time, depending on the sheep you should be able to get closer and closer to them until they will walk
by your side. Then teach them to walk beside you when you walk, and stop when you stop. Aftera few lessons of
this start touching them some and handling them. By this time they should be more comfortable around you and
accept this pretty well. You can do more with them as they can accept it.
Eventually, lambs are lead away from the pen of other lambs and become accustomed to being alone. It can be
helpful to lead the lambs on some gravel or rocky area as well as concrete. Many fairs do have concrete isles and
show rings. If an animal has not walked on concrete, they tend to put on the brakes and not walk in a natural
Your goal should be a 20-minute walk with its head held high. This is about the amount of time you would spend in
a show ring.With time you can practice setting up the lamb with head in a natural position with the neck held
straight up from the shoulders and legs placed under each corner of the body. Lambs may not like to have their
legs moved by hand, but with practice, they will accept having legs moved into proper position. Exercising your
lamb will help you build a bond as well as condition your lamb.Always end on a good note and stay in control until
the halter is removed and the lamb is returned to its pen.A lamb that is allowed to get away, may try it again next
A note about halters:
There are several different types of halters to use when training. The most common type are Braided Nylon rope
type halters that are fully adjustable and will fit any size sheep by simply adjusting the rope to fit the head size. Only
thing with these types of halters when using them to halter train, when you pull on them, or the sheep pulls back,
they do tighten up and can panic an already frightened sheep. The pressure does not release off of the face very
well, unless you use your hands to loosen it. This type of halter is better for sheep already trained to lead that wonï
be pulling back like an untrained or wild sheep. Other choices for training are the flat nylon halters similar to other
livestock halters only small sized for sheep, with a figure 8 under the jaw, or just the flat nylon halters for miniature
horses or alpacas work well. They give relief to an animal and loosen when slack is in the lead rope when teaching
an animal to lead.
If you plan on entering your sheep in a Breed Class you may choose to invest in a leather show halter. If you plan
on entering a Fitting and Showmanship class, a halter should not be used unless you are younger in age. This is
because in breed classes they judge your sheep and in fitting and showmanship classes they judge how you have
prepared your sheep (fitting) and how well you handle it (showmanship).
Sheep in the show ring
First lets start by saying, YES! YOU CAN SHOW A BABYDOLL SOUTHDOWN. Old world style
Southdowns were the rage of the 1960's show and market classes before they were selectively bred to become
the taller leaner modernized American Southdown you see today. Old world Southdowns have since been
re-named Babydoll Southdowns to distinguish the difference. We refer to this unchanged heritage breed as North
American Babydoll Southdowns since they have become an established North American breed once again.
Although they may not meet the weight requirements of today's market classes they are still a good choice to show
in fitting and showing classes, wool classes, and especially with young showmen that are not old enough to sell a
market animal or who do not want to say goodbye to their project at the sale. Their naturally small size and docility
make them a good choice for showman of all ages.
Selecting your show sheep
A sheep whose structure (conformation) is better then average should be selected. Pluses in the show ring include:
A sheep who best conforms to the breed standard and breed type (good thick muscling, good square leg set, good
bone, nice level head with blended ear set, nice breed muzzle, wide and not snippy or roman nose, flat top line with
a high tail head, wool of Southdown quality, last rib to rump slightly longer then last rib to shoulder, laid in shoulder,
thick, wide and long loin length, well muscled rear (twist and legs) etc. A traditional off white sheep with good
muzzle and leg hair pigment is exceptionally showy although solid blacks are allowed. Blacks with even color are
preferred to Grey-black (all blacks fade to gray in wool) with darker legs or spotted sheep. Please refer to
NABSSAR breed standard pages for additional help in selecting the ideal show sheep.
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