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Tail Docking Controversy

The docking of sheep tails has been "in the news" so to speak lately. Although the practice is thousands of years old the docking of sheep tails is now controversial. There are always people wanting to force others to do things the way they see them. This is especially true when it comes to the animal welfare crowd. That said I do believe we should evaluate from time to time how we raise our sheep. I for one do not mind docking tails and if done correctly it is not detrimental to the sheep's health. Our Dorper sheep do look particluarly nice with a properly docked tail. The issue that I believe is at hand concerns the extreme or club lamb docks that are surgically done. These ultra short docks over time actually look really unnatural and I personally detest them. Many of these sheep will prolapse if they get a cough or are fed to long.

I have stopped docking all my commercial ewes. I have found that they are healthier, breed more regularly, and especially maintain body condition much better than docked ewes. I began this a few years ago on the advice of my good friend Pieter van Schalkwyk from Africa. He had years of records to prove that undocked ewes outperformed docked ewes in most every way possible. Less work and more money who can be against that? I'm not quite ready to stop docking my registered sheep but who knows there may come a day!

So what should we do about it? Should we seek legislation to stop tail docking? Should our sheep shows begin an enforcement mechanism? I for one would like to see extreme docks thrown out of all of our show and sales. This would send a message that we are not against docking but we will not tolerate club lamb, surgical docks in the Dorper world!


Philip Glass