If given the opportunity Persians tend to look after themselves provided their basic requirements are met. Providing adequate shelter, a good diet and regular worming does much towards providing long term health. Basic requirements include:- 1/ Shelter – Persians are a heat tolerate, arid zone desert sheep and as such do well in this type of environment. Persians are kept in all areas of Australia including the arid areas of South Australia and the tropical regions of Queensland and can also do well in the high rainfall southern states. They do not however cope well with protracted cold , wet periods and it is important that adequate shelter is provided during these periods. Most Persian breeders provide shed for their animals and the sheep will naturally shelter in these when necessary.
Typical sheds provided for Persians
Persian sheep at Coolibah in Melbourne in July on a frosty morning
2/ Worming – Like all sheep , Persians need to be regularly and correctly wormed. Appropriate protocols vary from area to area. Your local sheep vet is a good source of information . Worming is discussed in more detail in “ The Common Diseases “ section of this website.
3/Vaccination – Prevention is always better than cure and Persian breeders are encouraged to take advantage of the very effective vaccines that are available. a/ 5 in 1 vaccine – this protects sheep against the 5 common Clostridial ( a type of bacteria ) diseases. 2 injections are given 4 weeks apart initially. In lambs this is often best done at 4 and 8 weeks of age. Annual boosters are required. Often the annual booster is given to the ewes while they are pregnant each year as an aid in also protecting the new lamb . b/ Johne’s disease-- This vaccine is highly recommended. A single vaccination confers like time immunity in 95% of sheep. This vaccine should be given to all adults which have not been vaccinated. Lambs are vaccinated as soon as possible after 4 weeks of age. Johne’s disease is discussed more fully in “The Common Diseases of Sheep” section of this website. c/ Footrot/ Scald vaccine—Following testing a single and sometimes a second vaccination is given to all sheep. Usually a single course is adequate. More details can be found in “The Common Diseases of Sheep” section of this website
4/Feeding – Persians like all sheep need a complete and balanced diet to thrive. The difference is that Persians unlike some other breeds such as Merinos are real foragers. Many sheep breeds will just eat grass. Persians are keen to browse which means they will consume plants seldom eaten by many of the woolly breeds. Most Persians are maintained on grass pastures but will also eat, often preferentially seemingly unpalatable plants such as blackberries and pine trees. Like all sheep, Persians benefit from nutritional support during times when available pasture is reduced. Lucerne hay is high in protein and relished by the sheep. Grain hays such as wheaten or oaten hay are useful supplements and encourage rumination.
Persians relish oaten and other grains hay and feeding it encourages rumination and good digestion. Nutitional support such as this enables sheep to stay in good condition at times when pasture availability is reduced
5/ Nutritional Supplementation—Persians are particularly susceptible to White Muscle Disease. Caused by a Vitamin E/ Selenium deficiency this condition occurs in Persians most commonly when they graze lush pastures that have grown rapidly in soils that are low in these nutrient or on diets such as grain blends that are have naturally low levels . To avoid this and help to minimise other conditions associated with nutritional deficiency provision of a vitamin/ mineral supplement I s recommended. Choose a registered product from an established company. I use and recommend “Sheep Weathershield with Copper”. This is made and supplied by Propharma Pty Ltd which is based in Dandenong, Melbourne, Victoria. 6,Shearing and tail docking is not necessary in Persians. Persian sheep have the big advantage that they do not need shearing. This is particular significant at times when shearing costs to rise and wool prices fall. In addition, because they have a self-shedding short coat they do not experience any of the health problems associated with the thick woolly fleece of other breeds. They do not get flystruck and are less vulnerable to fleece rot and heat sensitive external parasites like lice. Not having a fleece also means they can tolerate hot, dry conditions more easily. They are not crutched or mulesed. Their tails are not docked
Genelink Domino’ photographed in January shedding her coat
7/ Foot trimming . Like some other breeds, Persians that are kept on soft ground for extended can develop long cleats ( the sheep equivalent of a fingernail).The condition is managed by trimming away the excess horn with paring clippers as the need dictates. 7/Breeding. Lambs have low birth weights which makes for easy lambing and most Persian ewes make good mothers Approximately every fourth lambing results in twins. Occasionally difficult births occur requiring veterinary intervention
Owners should establish a good relationship with their closest sheep veterinarian who will not only be able to help with any primary health problems that crop up but also advise on particular pasture or health issues that apply locally.
Dr Jack Nicolas of South Cranbourne Veterinary Surgery performing an emergency caesarean on Stud Sheep Genelink Champagne
Genelink Champagne in February 2015, nine months later and fully recovered after her caesarean with her new lamb, a black speckle ewe
Dr James Walker and Dr Isabel Taylor perform routine health checks on Coolibah ewes prior to mating