January 3, 2009

Sheep Farm Husbandry - crutching

Sheep, farming, husbandry, management, crutching.

By Dr Clive Dalton

In New Zealand sheep are 'crutched' by removing various amounts of wool from their belly and rear end.

Kinds of crutching
There are basically three kinds of crutching:
  1. The 'ring crutch'. Here only the wool around the anus and vulva is removed, while the sheep is held in a sitting position tilted to it's side. This is done to prevent soft faeces sticking to the wool and causing dags, and to make it easier for the ram to locate the ewe's vagina for mating.
  2. The 'full crutch'. Here the wool is removed from inside both back legs, below the teats and udder of a female, and the rudimentary teats of the male. Then a 'ring crutch' is added as in 1. When crutching rams, excess wool may be removed from around the pizzle to stop infection of the prepuce (pizzle rot).
  3. The 'full belly crutch'. Here half the belly wool of the sheep is taken off, as well as adding the full crutch as in 2. This is done before lambing to allow new-born lambs to find the udder of their dam. It may also be done before sheep go on to a crop to stop the belly wool being contaminated with mud.
Ring crutch
To start- aim a blow across and down below the anus/vulva

Wool removed from first blow

Start the second blow - across the tail dock and carefully around the anus/vulva

Take off more wool above the tail, and start taking off wool on the far side of the sheep

You may need to pull the sheep up towards you to get at this wool.
Use short blows on the far side
to cut & flick it off.

Full crutch

First locate any small teats to avoid cutting them. It's a good idea to cover them with your fingers on your free hand.

Make the first blow along down the right leg. Remove the sock if the legs are woolly

Make the first blow along down the left leg. Remove the sock if the legs are woolly

Take a blow or two if needed right around the crutch. Pull up on the lower belly wool/skin to expose the vulva and anus to see what you are doing

Then finish the job by completing a ring crutch

This material is provided in good faith for information purposes only, and the author does not accept any liability to any person for actions taken as a result of the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) provided in these pages.

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