Today is all about the tail. Ever wonder why lambs are born with tails and as sheep they don’t have a tail? Here is the why.
When lambs are born they have tails. Tail length is a highly heritable trait and a combination length of the sire (dad) and the dam (mother). If you like genetics you would love raising livestock.
Modern sheep farmers dock or shorten the lambs tails. This is done to prevent fecal matter (poop) from accumulating on the back side of the sheep, which can result in maggots. It can be fatal as the maggots eat away at the sheep’s flesh. Tail docking also makes it easier to shear the sheep and harvest for meat.
In some markets buyers prefer small lambs and there is a premium when the tail is left on. This is typically ethnic markets who like to harvest a lamb at a much smaller weight.
We band all of our tails. There are different methods that can be used to dock the tails of lambs. The most common method is to put a rubber band (ring) around the tail, this is what we do. When this method is used, it is recommended that lambs be docked at a young age (1 to 7 days) to minimize the stress and pain experienced by the lamb.
While many animal rights activists claim that tail docking is inhumane, it simply is not true. When done properly, tail docking is not inhumane. While it causes some pain, it does not affect the health or growth of the lamb. Tail docking is done to protect the health and hygiene of sheep.
It is usually not necessary to dock the tails of hair sheep breeds, they have a shorter and slightly different type of tail.