To Dock or Not to Dock

lambtailI’m not keen about tail docking on any animal, since it is a true amputation, and I have concerns about what it does to the animal’s physiology and whether they suffer from phantom limb syndrome. In sheep, short tail docking is definitely linked to greater incidence of rectal prolapse.

A couple of my Katahdins came with docked tails, and I don’t like them- it looks less clean to me, as “tail action” helps remove manure from their back ends. The ones that do have tails use them a lot, they are very expressive. I prefer the look of the natural tails, and am happy that I don’t have to dock any of my Katahdin lambs.

But, the single Jacob ewe was a different consideration. Lore has it that if you leave tails on wooled sheep, there is great danger of manure collection at the back end, which attracts fly eggs, then maggots, which will eventually eat flesh. So, when considering that, tail docking doesn’t seem so awful.

So, I docked this girl’s tail, using the banding method. I left the dock fairly long, maybe five joints, so hopefully she doesn’t have prolapse danger. I’m disappointed with the look though, as this thing atrophies and gets ready to fall off, I can see she’s not going to be nearly as cute as her long tail was! But it won’t show once she’s an adult and all wooley (like her filthy mama is in the background!).

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