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Meningeal worm prevention

We have a lot of deer on our property as well as a lot of snails so inevitably we see meningeal worm in the sheep. Since we started doing daily moves with our sheep for better growth in a forage only management system we have had the good side effect of being able to identify and treat animals affected by meningeal worm earlier.

We can watch all the sheep move as they pass through to the next section of pasture and see who is showing any signs of incoordination or weakness. The sooner you can start treating animals affected with meningeal worm the better their outcome will be.

We control the deer population by hunting as many as we can legally take during hunting season as building 6ft high deer exclusion fence around the property is not a viable option. Luckily we both enjoy venison and we get to enjoy eating the deer that we feed on our pastures all year long.

We see snails on the vegetation and portable fences throughout the grazing season and they seem to be in all our pastures so fencing the sheep out of areas with a lot of snails is not an option. We had a few layer hens on pasture last year and they did eat some snails but they also do a lot of damage to the pasture when they dig holes to take dust baths. We decided to try Guinea Fowl to control our snail population this year and so far they are doing a good job.

We ordered 25 one day old Guinea keets in February, unfortunately they were delayed in transit due to heavy snow and only 23 arrived alive. We kept them inside until they were old enough to move them out to pasture when the sheep started grazing at the end of April. They sleep in the portable chicken house and we move it every 2 -3 days so they do not damage the pasture where we feed them. We want them to forage for snails and bugs so we only feed them in the evening to encourage them to go out and forage during the day but also to come home so they are protected at night.

We enclosed them in an area around the chicken house with poultry electro-netting for about a week and then decided to see how they would do without the fencing. They promptly ran into the woods and did not return the first day. We tried herding them back to the chicken house at dusk but they were not co-operative and it got too dark so we had to leave them out. Of course we started hearing the coyotes howling and were sure that we will not see them again.

Miraculously they showed up at the chicken house the next day, we fed them and they have been coming home for dinner and to sleep in the safety of the house every night since then. So far they have been roaming in most of the pastures but seem to be staying on our poperty. Unfortunately our 6 strand electified high tensile fencing does nothing to keep them in.

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