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David Sparks Ph.d Sheep Docking 2
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: May 22, 2018

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It’s 6 AM, cool and still dark. The faraway spotlight and the sound is the beginning of a new day. As the eastern landscape brightens up, the Western landscape becomes a sea of sheep. Where one goes, they all go. 450 ewes and their month old lambs are being patiently coaxed to a corral for a health check. They are making preparations for a summer on the range. “They are earmarking, docking tales and also castrating all of the buck lambs.” Volunteer Braden Jensen who grew up on a sheep ranch describes it as a flashback and reality check. “We did quite a bit of this growing up. This is how my springs were spent until the sheep were turned out onto the range. It’s great to get out into the field right next to the producers and to have a reality check.” For Phil and Harry Solon, today’s docking is one of 1/2 dozen that they will do this spring. Phil has been docking lambs for over 80 years and his job today is to mark each lamb. “How did this one go for you? It went good. There are two and a half bands that are marked here. In about two weeks they will mix them together. That will make 1053 head.” The docking crew will process over 250 lambs in about three hours. Each person has a specific duty which makes the whole job run like a fine tuned engine. One part of owner and crew boss Harry Solon’s job is the counting of new lambs. His method is simple. Count the tales.

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