A most unwelcome sight waiting at the gate for his grain this morning...
Yep, Leo managed to get entirely out of his coat at some point yesterday. An equally unwelcome sight was just to his left:
Kevyn was out of hers as well. We put larger coats on two weeks ago, and usually if they stay on for a couple of days, they are good for the long haul. No such luck with these two. And on the same day!
The coats are not there to keep the sheep warm; they don't need any help with that, given their wool fleeces. The coats keep the fleeces clean and protected, especially from contamination of little bits of hay. Once those bits are in the fleeces, it's almost impossible to get them out. Even one day without their coats and the fleeces were starting to look junky. It's a never ending battle.
Luckily, we had just received an order of new sheep coats to try out. We have used the Matilda sheep coats for years, but they are no longer available in the US, at least not that I can find. A distributor told me that there are problems with the manufacturing in Australia. Whatever the story, ours were on their very last legs, mostly patches and seams at this point.
I have considered the idea of making my own, but despite having some possible fabric for two years now, the time to make them just hasn't presented itself. We decided to try some Rocky Sheep Company coats, as the reviews I have seen are quite good.
The coats arrived the end of last week, and they didn't disappoint in their quality. However, I had used the Matilda coat sizes as a guide when placing the order. When the coats arrived, it was apparent that this was not an accurate comparison. The Rocky Sheep Coats have panels in the front, instead of the simple seam of the Matilda coats, which are constructed much like the lamb coats I blogged about last week. On our broad-brisketed Coopworth, the coats tended to pull forward and bunch around their necks, significantly reducing the length of the coats.
Of course we should have measured the sheep before placing the order, as the website demonstrates so well! When I called to explain myself, Rocky, the owner, answered the phone personally and didn't once chastise me for my lack of preparation. He spent a good deal of time explaining that the panel in the front gives so much more room, you actually need to go down about 4-5" in size when making a conversion from the Matilda coats. The Rocky coats are in 2" increments, and so much easier to get an accurate fit, once the size range is correct.
Rocky offered to ship me smaller coats the next day, based upon my stated intention to return the largest of the coats. I told him that I didn't expect him to do that; I would understand if he wanted to wait to receive the return before shippping the new ones. He chuckled, explaining that if his years in the sheep business had taught him anything, it was that people who want to cheat to make money quickly don't really last long raising sheep.
Back to the sheep covers we did receive: I managed to get the two smaller sizes onto our sheep. I used the "golf ball and zip tie" method to pull up the ram's coat; I will have to take pictures of that at a later date. Hopefully it will still be on tomorrow morning.
Kevyn looked quite spiffy in her coat, though it may also be slighty too big. Jasmine, her half-sister, had to come and check her new duds out. You can see the difference between the way the two coats fit around the neck. Now to test if the coats stay on, but based on customer service and quality of product alone, the Rocky Sheep Company coats get two thumbs-up so far.