Graining Griselle

Griselle eating grain inside the main barn

All summer long I had been feeding Zelda and Griselle, our two oldest sheep grain to help fatten them up.  Both sheep had lost too much weight over the winter and we could only see how skinny they were when we had them shorn in the spring.

But after we euthanized Zelda, I stopped giving Griselle grain every day and only gave it to her sporadically.  Mostly because Griselle looked really fat and healthy, but partly because with Zelda gone it disrupted the routine we had.

But with the first frost, I was reminded that winter would be here soon and especially if there was snow, the sheep would be spending all their time in the pole barn.

All summer  I’ve easily moved the other sheep out of the pole barn, even on the hottest of days.  Zelda and Girselle would hang back, while I closed the gates to the barn, keeping them in and eveyone else out.  Then I’d feed them grain.

But that wouldn’t work in the winter when the snow is so deep the sheep wouldn’t want to leave the pole barn.  I knew I’d have to get Griselle to come into the stall inside the main barn which the pole barn is attached to.

I began the training a few days ago.

Getting Griselle into the pole barn wasn’t a problem.  Once she was in I opened the gate to the main barn and stepped inside.  At first, she was reluctant to come inside, but I walked to the bin where I keep the gran and when she saw what I was doing she came into the barn.

She ran out again when I tried to close the door, so I moved more slowly and eventually got the door closed behind her and fed her grain.

The next day she came right into the main barn without any problem.

Today all the sheep and donkeys were in the pole barn when I opened the door for her.  She came in quickly, but this time the other animals showed more interest, understanding that she was getting grain inside the barn.

They stood at the gate while she ate, and when she was done and I let her out, they tried to rush into the barn.  I was able to hold them off, but they could easily have knocked me over.  (Ah Red, it’s times like this I really miss you.)

But I think once Griselle gets into the habit of getting her grain inside the main barn, the other sheep will also get into the habit of staying out of it.  And once we start feeding the hay, that will help distract them too.

Until then, I’ll just keep up the routine every day.  In my experience, being consistent does seem the best way to train most animals.

The rest of the sheep and donkeys at the barn gate while Griselle ate her grain this afternoon.




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