How to Gentle a Lamb
April 4, 2012
Well, like I said a few posts ago my 3 new ewe lambs are a bit wild. Here’s the process that I’m undergoing to get them gentled.
Sunday afternoon – put them in a 12 by 12 stall with bedding, hay and water.
Sunday evening – spend about 15 minutes with them. I come in with a container of sweet feed and put it about 3 feet in front of me. I then sit back on my heels and wait for them to stop cowering and move forward and eat it all.
Monday evening – spend about ½ hour with them. I bring in the magic bucket of sweet feed. Put it on my lap and wait for them to come to me and eat it. I make sure they have to brush up against my fingers to eat and I try and get a few strokes in on their noses in the process. When they are done I just sit there and let them nuzzle and sniff at me.
Tuesday evening – spend about 20 minutes with them. I only present sweet feed to them in my hands for them to eat out of. All the while trying to stroke their muzzles as much as possible. When the feed is done I present horse treats for them to eat from my hands.
Wednesday – I have to work from home so I get in multiple short sessions of having them eat directly from my hands with me trying to scratch their heads. I also sit in their stall for a few minutes after each feeding and let then sniff me over. At this point they still run to the back of the stall when I enter, but quickly come forward. If you approach their gate they will stand their ground for hand feeding through the fence. They still shy away from real head scratching.
Thursday – I put Zorro (llama) and Luanne (my totally trained lamb) into the new ewe lambs tiny paddock, open the stall door and *POOF* the flock is integrated! I’ll keep all of them in these close quarters through the weekend for bonding. Also (the theory) is that Luanne will set a good example for the other lambs that people and scratches are a good thing. I’ll be continuing my hand feeding throughout the weekend.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that by the end of the weekend that Mary, Snowball and Caroline will get the same blissed out, tail wagging joy from my scratching that Luanne gets.