Sheep Vegetation Management Guidelines
3.0 On-site management and standards
Training and experience requirements
The proponent, contractor and
project staff should have appropriate experience and skills, and should have a general
understanding of sheep production, vegetation management and the potential effects of
sheep grazing on wildlife and their habitat. Experience in these areas is crucial for
The majority of shepherds on
sites should have at least one working season of experience in the field of sheep
It is imperative that at least
one shepherd per project have extensive experience in sheep health and husbandry, as well
as the ability to evaluate sheep body condition and symptoms of stress.
Inspecting veterinarians must be
authorized by MAF. Proponents should contact MAF for a list of authorized veterinarians.
One legible copy of the valid
health certificates, individual sheep identification record, livestock manifest and other
documents required by contract agreement must accompany all sheep upon arrival at the
project areas and be kept on the site.
All pertinent activities and
observations must be recorded on the operation forms. The operation forms must be up to
date and present on the camp site at all times and made available to monitoring staff,
authorized veterinarians and other designated officials upon request.
Operation forms (Appendix 5) include the:
At the end of the contract, the
proponent must supply a copy of the operation forms to the designated MELP official and
the MAF Health Management Veterinarian. Proponents should also retain a copy of the
operation forms for their own records.
interactions All contractor staff must be familiar with the
large carnivores (possible sheep predators) in the grazing area, predator avoidance
techniques and predator deterrent methods (such as noise makers and pepper spray).
Proponents and contractors should be familiar with current MELP publications concerning
these topics (Appendix 6).
All carnivore sightings and interactions must be
recorded on the Carnivore Interaction
All project staff must use diligence in
shepherding, frequent sheep counts, and especially evening checks to ensure no sheep are
left on site. These techniques are all vital to avoiding carnivore interactions.
To effectively monitor for carnivores it is
recommended that a block survey for carnivore sightings, scats and tracks be conducted on
the site approximately 48 hours prior to sheep arrival, every 5 to 10 days for the
duration of the project, and following departure of the flock. The final carnivore
inspection should determine if any sheep, dogs or belongings have been left behind. Daily
inspections for carnivores should also be completed while inspecting the flock. If
contractors have insufficient experience in monitoring for signs of carnivores then it is
recommended that appropriate training be taken or personnel with this experience be hired.
If carnivore presence or behaviour
suggests an increased risk of predation then it is recommended that the number of on-site
personnel, sheep counts, guardian dogs and efforts to prevent sheep wandering should also
Every reasonable effort must be made to
avoid conflicts with carnivores. However, if contractor staff consider a wild carnivore to
be a serious threat, they must report incidents as soon as possible to the Conservation
Officer and the designated MELP official.
If a wild carnivore kills or injures a
domestic animal (suspected or confirmed):
- the incident should be promptly reported to the
Conservation Officer Service and/or the designated MELP official, and recorded on the Carnivore Interaction Form. It is
recommended, for human safety, that the carcass be left undisturbed until the Conservation
Officer has been contacted. The Conservation Officer may give specific instructions for
handling of the carcass and the surrounding area. Otherwise, disposal of carcasses should
be consistent with Section 3.8 of the guidelines (carcass
- carnivores must not be destroyed unless human life is
in direct danger. The Wildlife Act requires that any wildlife killed on site must be
promptly reported to a Conservation Officer;
- carnivore carcasses are the property of the Crown and
disposal must, therefore, be at the direction of MELP as per the Wildlife Act; and
- MELP, in consultation with the proponent, may require
that the sheep flock be moved, as soon as possible to a pre-selected alternative site that
is deemed suitable by ministry staff (such sites should be at least one watershed distance
away, and should be identified before the project starts).
Moving sheep unexpectedly
Should the contractor have an
unplanned need to move sheep within the contract period, the flock should be moved to a
pre-approved site. The proponent, the designated MELP official and Conservation Officer
Service must be notified by the contractor as soon as possible
3.6 Camp standards
Proponents should include the
Camp Standards in their contract package. Proponents and contractors must conform to
the Health Act and W.C.B. Regulations.
In addition, the following guidelines apply
in sheep grazing operations:
Camps should be near the sheep for adequate
monitoring of disturbances.
Foodstuffs and garbage should be stored
properly in bear and vermin-proof containers.
All burnable garbage must be burned or
removed from the site. Appropriate approval must be obtained from MELP and MOF prior to
It is recommended that all camps
have reliable telecommunications equipment, such as a cellular phone, VHF or radio.
Proponents should also provide all camps with correct radio frequencies and channels for
all logging roads that exist within the project area.
The names and telephone numbers
for the following people or organizations should be available on the project site:
Because some grazing sites have
poor, or no, radio reception, provision should be made for personnel at these sites to
have frequent off-site contact.
Walkie-talkie radios are
recommended to assist shepherds with on-site communication.
Officer (acting on behalf of the proponent),
Designated MELP official (Wildlife/Habitat
Biologist or Technician),
MAF Health Management Veterinarian,
local hospital or first aid station, and
off-site contacts (for messages).
Sheep health and welfare
Proponents and sheep contractors
are expected to ensure that sheep used on vegetation management sites meet the current
Sheep Health Protocol (Appendix 3)
Any sheep that do not continue
to meet the Sheep Health Protocol must be removed from the site.
Contractors should meet sheep
care standards as outlined in the Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and
Handling of Sheep, provided by the MAF upon request.
- Pregnant ewes will not be certified or permitted to enter
the site. If lambing should inadvertently occur on site, ewes and their lambs should be
isolated, and removed from project sites within two days of lambing, or as soon as
physically possible, in keeping with the Sheep Health Protocol.
Lambing sites must be limed, and the placentas immediately contained, removed and disposed
- Lambing must be noted and the ewes identified by ear-tag
on the Sheep Health and Welfare Form (Appendix 5).
- Unless required for further examination, carcasses must be
completely disposed of immediately following an animals death.
- Carcasses must be disposed of by incineration or by
complete removal from the site. Off-site disposal must be in accordance with all
applicable federal and provincial acts and regulations.
- Sheep carcasses must not be buried on site under any
circumstances. Even faint odours of blood or decomposing carcasses will attract carnivores
that will dig up any buried remains. This is a hazard to both humans and animals involved
with the project.
- The preferred disposal method is one that leaves no
evidence of odour or carcass remains on or near the site. Examples of acceptable disposal
- Off-site portable burners, subject to MELP approval, may
also be used to dispose of carcasses. The burner's ability to burn carcasses must be
proven to any inspectors. Complete burning should result in only a small amount of ash and
charcoal and no residual odours. Immediately after burning, any remains must be buried
deeply. To prevent carnivores from associating the odour with the site, the burner should
not be located on the project site.
- Sheep should not be on sites with insufficient vegetation
- Trace mineralized salt suitable for sheep should be
provided at or near the corral sites.
- Sheep should be permitted to graze daily, for an adequate
period of time, so that their feed intake is sufficient. Sheep grazing patterns may vary
with the site topography and other factors, but a minimum of 8 hours of grazing daily may
- In most cases, sheep weight loss is due to insufficient
feed intake and/or poor quality vegetation. Deficient intake may be caused by insufficient
volume (perhaps as a result of brief grazing periods), high moisture content in the feed,
or increased energy requirements that often accompany severe weather and terrain
- Contractors and staff should observe body condition as per
the Sheep Health Protocol.
3.9 Sheep management techniques
Following their arrival on-site,
sheep should be off-loaded in a previously designated area for:
It is imperative that sheep be
fed and watered as soon as possible after arrival on-site. If site vegetation is suitable
and the sheep are familiar with the conditions being presented, the animals should be
given immediate access to good quality forage. If good quality forage is not available,
then supplemental feed must be provided during the stabilization period.
Arrangements must be made for
supplemental feed to be provided to the sheep on site as required. Ideally, such
supplements should not be necessary.
- To ensure that the site is free of carnivores, a shepherd
should inspect the area to be grazed before the sheep are released, or walk ahead of the
flock. After the daily grazing period, a final check should be made to ensure that all
sheep have returned. This check, and consequently the removal of any stray sheep, will
help prevent attracting carnivores.
- Sheep should be counted frequently. Weekly or even daily
counts may be appropriate, in some situations.
- Sheep must be permitted to graze daily for an adequate
period of time in order to allow sufficient feed intake. Sheep grazing patterns may vary
with site topography and other factors, but a minimum of 8 hours daily may be required.
Sheep body condition should be monitored on a regular basis by weighing or scoring the
condition of a representative sample.
- High intensity grazing of small areas for short periods of
time, has proven to be an effective vegetation management practice.
- Once the competing vegetation has been adequately removed
by the sheep, they should removed from the site.
- The flock should be moved between project sites in close
proximity along routes with traffic control. In general, a maximum of about 15 km can be
traveled per day on average terrain, with adequate rest stops and water provided.
- Until the sheep establish grazing patterns, it is
recommended that three shepherds per flock should be on site from morning release until
the end of each day. A minimum of two shepherds should remain on site at all times.
- It is unacceptable to leave the sheep unattended.
- It is unacceptable to leave personnel alone for long
periods of time.
- Each shepherd requires at least two experienced herding
dogs with proven working ability on site. Additional dogs may be required as back-up in
case primary herding dogs are injured or become ill.
- Each flock of up to 1500 sheep requires at least two
experienced livestock guardian dogs of recognized breeds and demonstrated effective
working ability. Dogs in training are not considered to be working guardian dogs.
- Dogs used on sheep vegetation management sites must be
controlled by the contractor and should not be left unattended (refer to the Wildlife
Act, Sections 80 and 81).
- The presence of dogs does not relieve shepherds from the
responsibility of monitoring for the presence of on-site carnivores and ensuring good
husbandry through close flock supervision.
3.10 Dog health and welfare
The Sheep Health Protocol
recommends that all dogs on site receive:
vaccination against canine
Rabies, Distemper, Adenovirus type II and Parvovirus, before site entry or as advised by
the shepherds regular veterinarian;
anthelmintic treatment, 2 weeks
before entering the site and on leaving the site, for roundworms and tapeworms, or as
advised by the shepherds regular veterinarian;
heartworm tests and prophylactic
heartworm medications that are considered appropriate by the shepherd's regular
good quality food, clean
drinking water and suitable facilities and care for injuries and illness.
Sheep must be supplied with
supplementary water sources and facilities on or near the project site, particularly in
dry weather conditions. An individual sheep can drink up to one gallon per day, depending
on feed type and weather conditions.
Contractors should provide
troughs and hauled water for sheep at or near the corral sites to encourage sheep to drink
from these supplemental sites rather than from natural water sources.
Contractors may be permitted to
haul or pipe water to tanks and troughs from natural sources, however diversion of water
for stock watering purposes in some watercourses may require a permit from the
Water Management Branch of
Ministry of Environment
Direct access to lakes, streams
and wetlands should be avoided. Every reasonable effort should be made to protect riparian
areas as per the Riparian Management Area Guidebook.
Night corrals should be located
outside riparian management areas (RMA).
Drainage from the night corral
site must not flow into watercourses.
Excessive animal and vehicle
traffic through watercourses must be avoided to prevent contamination of the watercourse.
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