Sunday, March 24, 2013

Why You Should Not Abandon an Unwanted Cat on a Farm

When I was young our family had a wonderful Calico cat, her name was “Calico”. We went to live in another country for a year and could not take her with us. We were lucky to find a home willing to take an adult cat (we didn’t dump her). It was a farm home, which seemed like a great choice. But when we returned we found out that farm homes are not the ideal life for a cat.

Calico had been beaten up by the other resident cats, and was thin, due to the fact that some farmers do not feed their cats, rather insisting they catch mice. If not wormed, farm cats are loaded with parasites from eating the mice. But at least she was alive, many farm cats have their lives cut short.

The Typical Life of Some Farm Cats

Many farm cats die within their first 6 weeks. If their mother is not well fed survival for the entire litter is poor. Many kittens are killed by coyotes, raccoons, owls, and foxes. Intact male cats will even kill kittens in an effort to bring the mother back into heat.

But a worse fate than that is when the farmer finds “another” unwanted litter, he may dispose of them himself, often by drowning, or by placing the kittens in a bag and throwing it onto the road. 

Even if the kittens survive the first few months on a farm they are always at risk.

Farmers often do not feed the cats, they think the cat will catch more mice if it is hungry. Farmers seldom spend money to vaccinate, deworm, and so forth. Some farmers feel that these cats are not going to have a long lifespan, why spend money on something that a coyote is just going to kill anyhow?

What Happens to Abandoned Cats, Dumped on Farms

When a new cat shows up on a farm, as when one is dumped in the country by its owner, the farmer is not always welcoming. Sometimes it is the current farm cats, and farm dog, who may be less welcoming; chasing the new comer off, or even killing it. 

Okay, so let us assume it got by the residents and coyotes, now the newly abandoned cat faces the farmer. Most farms are already overrun with cats (due to many farmers resisting the expense of spaying or neutering) as such one more is a burden. Abandoned cats are often shot on sight, and this is legal in some areas.

Cat Abandonment is Illegal

In most areas taking your cat out to a farm is illegal. This falls under animal cruelty and is Animal Abandonment. Few people are charged because few people are caught in the act. Regardless of this, it is a cruel, and cowardly, thing to do to a pet cat, or any animal.

What Should be Done with an Unwanted Pet Cat

If you cannot keep your cat, or do not want it any longer you should return it to the breeder, or to the animal shelter if you adopted it from. If this is not an option it should be surrendered to a local animal shelter, rehomed carefully (Free to Good Home Pets often do not find good homes), or euthanized humanely.

Some Farm Cats do have Good Lives

To say “all” farm cats have bad lives is not true. I live on a hobby farm, my cats are all spayed or neutered, and get wormed, and vaccinated. However, you must remember, I am a city kid who moved to the country and my views of cats are as pets not as “mousers”. I keep my cats in my house when it is cold, they get plenty of cat food indoors and outside.

Farms are interesting, and potentially fun, places for a well cared for cat.  If you have a cat you cannot keep and have found a farm home for it, make sure the farmer is willing to feed the cat, and does have shelter for it.  A declawed cat has no place on a farm unless it is going to be kept indoors only.

Where I live there are farmers who might keep one cat as a pet, but have others around the farm that are not treated with kindness or respect. You cannot blame the farmers for this attitude, after all their life revolves mostly around feeding you!

Other Reading:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lambs Born on St Patricks Day

March 17 was St Patrick's Day and the day Patsy sheep finally had her lambs. Patsy is an unusual looking sheep, she is part Jacob, part Barbado, she use to have 5 horns but knocked one off leaving her with 4. She is part wool sheep, part hair, so she sheds – sort of.

Three other ewes had their lambs last week, when the weather was good, but a nasty storm had blown in a few days earlier, dumping new snow and sending temperatures well below freezing. At night the moms with lambs are in a stall in the barn, the other sheep are loose in the rest of the barn, and I would let them outside for the day, while leaving the moms and new lambs in the barn. 

I knew Pasty was due any day, but in the morning she was eager to go outside.  She ate her oats and then snuck away as I was putting hay out. I noticed her standing in a shed to the back of the pasture. Sheep are herd animals, they do not go off on their own except for when they are lambing. I had to bribe her (with oats) to get her back into the barn because at -15 celsius it was much too cold to have lambs in a three sided shed.

I left the mom to be alone for a while going out to check on her a few times. At about 11:00 her amniotic sack was out (you can see it in the picture). I left her alone again, going back at noon. At noon I walked into the barn, Patsy was standing near the back of the barn was having contractions, her head was held up and she was straining. Having seen ewes give birth before I noted she looked to be having a harder time of it, so I turned to latch the barn door shut behind myself so I could get a closer look, but in the moment it took to latch the door, by the time I turned around her lamb was out!

Patsy stood up, turned around, and started cleaning off her lamb right away. I waited at the far end of t the barn for a few minutes. Her location at the back of the barn was not great, there is a gap around the back door which let in a cold draft so I wanted to move her, and her wet lamb, to a drier stall. I picked up the lamb and carried him to the stall and Patsy followed. I gave him a quick drying but mostly left the rest up to Patsy and I went back to the house.

I returned an hour later (bringing water with me as we do not have running water in the barn) and as expected she had an other lamb with her. The second lamb was larger, and white. Although Patsy has had lambs before I think this was her first solid white lamb, most have been spotted like her.  The brown lamb does have white spots on his side.  Both lambs are male, ram lambs.

After another three hours her placenta was shed, I picked it up and took it to a place away from the barn area where I know ravens will come and gobble it up, and then added new dry straw to the stall. 

All sheep are doing well and hopefully the weather will improve.  

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Other Reading

My Husband's Account of the Lambing  - with some information on lambing in general

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Four New Lambs in Two Days

Yesterday, March 5, 2013, I was home and expecting that one of our sheep would have her lambs soon.  I was on the computer helping a worried girl whose dog was showing signs of going into labor.  At one point I told her I knew what she was going through because I was waiting for a ewe to lamb.

Two Lambs

Not long after that, around my lunch time, I went out to check and sure enough there she was in the shed with two new lambs.  I went out to get her and bring her into the barn.  The weather was just around freezing and there was a breeze, no place for wet lambs to be outside.  I got them in and dried them off.

The mom is a Katahdin sheep, her sister was the ewe that gave birth only two days earlier.  I moved the sister and her lambs into a larger stall and put this new mom into the small stall.  Of course I got some new lamb pictures too!

Sadly she did have a third lamb, I found it dead in the stall later that afternoon even though I had been checking regularly.

New Lambs!

Then today, March 6, I went into the barn in the morning to find another ewe had lambed.  I was a bit surprised, we knew she was pregnant, but I still thought she had a few more days to go.  I moved the other mom into the large stall with her sister to open up the small stall for the new mother, Dark Brown Barbado, and her two lambs, one girl, one boy.

This is the ewe lamb. As you can see, she is still a bit wet, I dried them off more.

This is the sleepy ram lamb.

Well now we have just one ewe left to lamb, that being Patsy the part Jacob ewe with 4 horns.  I think she will be another few days, but she might surprise us too.  Today is a bit chilly so I do hope it warms up for all the ewes and their new baby lambs.

Join WebAnswers and get paid using Google Adsense, to ask and answer questions, as I was doing the day I found the first lambs.  Click here.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cute Lambs Born in March

We have had mild weather for several weeks so we have been keeping our sheep (and lambs that were born in October) were outside all of the time, but on this particular day (March 3, 2013) it was a blizzard, with some wind gusts and 6 inches (15 cm), so decided to move the sheep into the barn for the night.

We knew that four ewes were expecting lambs.  We had bought a ram in October, ewes are pregnant for 5 months.  We did not think he had bred the ewes right away, but apparently he had.

As I was bringing in the sheep I noted one ewe was missing. If you have sheep it is very important not to assume all are there because it is sometimes easy to miss one, and a ewe that is thinking about lambing will separate herself from the others so might not come when called.

I went looking for the missing ewe, Mrs Brown Katahdin, a Katahdin (her breed) hair sheep. I found her standing in the old shed. She stomped her foot to try to keep me away, but I had no choice, she could not lamb out there in the cold. She was clearly in the process of delivering, her placenta was already out. I got her into the barn and left her.

After about an hour my husband and I went out to the barn to check her.  Sure enough there she was in a back corner with two little, and damp, lambs.  We had to hustle to get them into a private stall away from the other sheep.  We set her up in the stall with hay and water, and made sure the lambs were dry.  I took a few quick pictures, and sexed the lambs (both ewes) and left them alone for the night.

Cute Lamb Pictures!

Above is one of the ewe lambs, she is still a bit damp and you can even see the umbilical cord hanging down.  She is probably only an hour old (at most) in this photo.

Below is her sister, although these pictures were the following day, with this lamb being about 22 hours old or so.
She is perky and alert but still a bit wobbly on her feet.  The ewe and lambs will stay in the stall another day, they we will let them run around the whole barn, but it is much too snowy for them to go outside right now.

I will let you know when the other three ewes have their lambs.