Last update: April 11, 2012 08:38:12 AM E-mail Print


Crutching of Sheep

PD Rose


EVERY sheep farmer knows what the blowfly costs him in time, labour and mortality of sheep. As the years go by, the pest becomes increasingly serious, and at the present time, in some parts of the country at all events, flocks must be attended to at least every other day. Unfortunately, there is no effective repellent on the market and the only method that gives a measure of relief is crutching. It is a costly business, but there is only one thing more costly and that is not to crutch.

All flocks should be crutched at regular intervals and the crutching must be done thoroughly, i.e., the wool must be removed from the crutch, well up over the tail and down the outsides of both hind legs. During the fly season crutching should be done about every six weeks. Crutching at regular intervals will not relieve the farmer of frequent inspections for fly strike, but it will at least minimize the trouble.

If shearing takes place in the spring, the crutchings removed at regular intervals during the summer months will necessarily be short and of approximately the same value as lox. For all practical purposes, short crutchings, ½ to ¾ inch in length should only be picked to remove the dags and baled with and sold as lox. In all cases, crutchings should be thoroughly dried before baling. During the winter months crutching is normally not necessary, so the first crutching prior to the commencement of the fly season will yield comparatively long wool. Long-wool crutchings are naturally of more value and should be treated with extra care. Piece picking should be done immediately and the respective grades should be protected from dust and dirt. The common practice of storing all the crutchings, Lox, BP and CBP together, to be piece-picked at a later date, should be avoided. If piece picking is done immediately, the operation is easier and the best grades are not contaminated by the lower ones. Further, the temptation to bale the lot together and dispose of it as crutchings is not there.

Crutching is an expensive business, but if care is taken of the crutchings, a great deal of money can be saved.



Farming in South Africa 15