1/ Mackinnon Project, based at the University of Melbourne offers an excellent sheep consultancy service. An annual fee enables you to receive their regular “ Mackinnon Newsletter” and access to sheep veterinarians for advice and if necessary farm visits. The Newsletter includes a useful section titled “Management Reminders” which outlines what you should be doing with your sheep on a month by month basis. Their number is 03 9731 2225
2/Agriculture Victoria also produces a quarterly newsletter titled “Sheep Notes” that is particularly useful. Go to the Agriculture Victoria website, click on Agriculture, look to the left, click on “Sheep” and then “Sheep Notes Newsletter”. You can subscribe on line for no charge. Agriculture Victoria maintains a number of offices throughout the state. These are attended by veterinarians who are able to help you. To find the closest office to you follow the same series of links to “Sheep” but then click on “ Animal Health and Sheep Industry Control”. If you get lost on the website the number to ring is 136 186
3/ An extremely useful summary of sheep health issues written for the farmer can be found on line titled “ Sheep Diseases, The Farmers Guide”. Originally produced by PIRSA in South Australia, it is written by Dr Tony Brightling, a sheep veterinarian and author of the book “Sheep Diseases” . It is an extremely useful and practical reference written in straightforward language and gives practical advice.
4/ The days of the “ James Herriot “ type vet are essentially over. The knowledge available to veterinarians these days is vast and it is not practical for a veterinarian to be able to treat all animals. Rather than wait until a problem develops and have to find a sheep veterinarian in an emergency situation it is far better to make routine enquiries with the vets in your area to identify the closest who is proficient and familiar with sheep. Keep this number handy. Some veterinarians are also able to advice on issues such as pasture management as well as preventative health issues quite apart from just dealing with unwell animals.
5/ Vitamin / mineral supplement. In particular supplements containing Vi E and selenium are important. The supplement I use and recommend is called Weathershield Sheep with copper. This is presented as a dry white powder that is made available to the sheep in troughs . It is made by Propharma Pty Ltd. In Melbourne. Their number is 1800 337 955
6/ Ear Tags . Your sheep will need to be tagged, not only for your own identification purposes but it is a legal requirement if they are to be sold or transported. Ear tags are supplied through the NLIS ( National Livestock Identification Scheme). Google ear tag suppliers . A well known supplier is Shearwells. Their number is 1800 998 934. Tags can be posted to you.
7/ Hay Supplier. At some time you will probably need to buy hay. This may be Lucerne hay, a grain hay like oaten or wheaten hay or just plain pasture hay. Hay is at its cheapest and most plentiful in late Spring and steadily increases in price as stocks dwindle through Summer and Autumn. In some areas prices can double. If you have shedding, hay stores indefinitely. Consider how much you might need and buy your hay in during late Spring. Buying direct from the farm is always the most economical. The “Weekly Times” and local rural newspapers are good places to look for providers.