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The occupation of the migrant shepherd seems to come from a long ago time. But he is still up to date: Gabi and Frank Klein have made him their life's task and move with their herd throughout the year in all weathers through the Westerwald.
Migrant shepherd Frank Klein is with his flock every day in search of good grazing grounds. As a result, the individual areas are not overgrazed and the herd contributes quite casually to the propagation of seeds of various wild plants
The migrant shepherds Gabi and Frank Klein are early in the morning, when many working people are still in bed already on their way to their flock. The spouses have opted for the same career choice: migrant shepherd. Now in summer they are traveling with their animals at about 500 to 600 meters above sea level in a large nature reserve in the Westerwald. In contrast to the coupling, the sheep of the migratory shepherds do not stay in a permanent place, but move from pasture to pasture day after day throughout the year. Only at night, the sheep come in a fenced and guarded by herding dogs area.
Migratory shepherds are out in the open 365 days a year
Migrant shepherd Gabi Klein loves dealing with the animals and the tranquility far away from the hustle and bustle of the cityHowever, the migrant shepherd life is not quite as depriving as it was in earlier generations because they do not travel across the country on a cart, but have a permanent home near the summer pastures. Nevertheless, there is a lot of passion for her job as a migrant shepherd, as she is always there for the animals and forgo any holiday. The weather is as exposed to the couple as his sheep. "Rain and cold with good clothing are usually better bearable than the summer heat on open pastures," admits the migrant shepherd. "In bad winter weather, we can ever retire to our vehicle, but in the heat that helps nothing."
The lambs are born in the spring. They move in the first months with the herd and are nursed by the mothers
An office job would never have come into question for the migrant shepherd. He enjoys living outside in nature with the animals and being his own master. He can only be annoyed by government regulations that regularly force him into annoying paperwork. In the everyday work of the migrant shepherd, he was allowed to sniff as a schoolboy, when he accompanied his father to his herd. "During school holidays, I often spent whole days with cattle and therefore knew what I was getting into." The herd of the little ones consists of 500 female sheep and only six rams. The mating season is in winter and while the mothers are pregnant, the rams are allowed to stay with the herd. Only at the beginning of July, when the animals would be ready to mate again, the migratory shepherd separates the sexes until the beginning of December. Thus, the females get a close season and become pregnant again in the winter, so get only once a year offspring.
Sheep's wool as a by-productThe main source of income for the Westerwald hay sheep is the sale of grown lambs at slaughterhouses. New wool revenue is low due to strong international competition. Therefore, it is consistent that the little ones cross in their breeding from the woolly Merino Landschaf and the German Black-headed Meat Sheep more and more genetic material of the latter. "For mating, we use only Aries of the Black-headed," explains Frank Klein. "It has a good meat approach and fits in my opinion best anyway to the local climate." However, shorn is still once a year in late April, early May, so that the animals lose their warm winter fur. By the beginning of autumn, when the sheep are on very wide, lower meadows between 300 and 400 meters above sea level, their fur is tight enough to protect themselves from the cold in winter anyway.
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Everyday life at the Migratory Shepherd (6)
Claw care is one of the most important everyday tasks of the migrant shepherd. In doing so, it prevents bacterial diseases that can be transmitted to other sheep via the soil and can also affect the claw joints.
The green color on the fingers of the migrant shepherd comes from a disinfectant spray that he sprays on injured hooves.
The label with two ear tags has been mandatory for all sheep farmers for seven years. The aim is to trace the origin of each animal to the producer and to reduce possible diseases more quickly.
In summer heat sheep have an enormous water requirement of up to 15 liters per day. This can not be covered by the moisture in the feed.Therefore, the migrant shepherd provides his charges with fresh water from a water tank, which he transports by trailer to the pasture.
In the evening, the migratory shepherd locks the sheep in a pen, secured overnight by an electric fence and at least two herding dogs.
Every year, migrant shepherd Frank Klein leaves the shears to a group of professional clippers from Poland, New Zealand and Australia, who usually only need a single day to cut 500 sheep.