I’m done with lambing. Mostly. Sort-of. I think. Except for maybe one or two, or three. or more. This has been a most peculiar lambing season from a numerical standpoint, to say the least.

I have 34 ewes, so was expecting a good sixty lambs out of them. Likely not quite 200%, since fourteen of those are yearlings. Some of those would surely single, and I don’t have an equivalent number of mature ewes which I could expect to triplet to keep the average up. My lambing window was concentrated around the first two weeks of April, with a couple of re-bred stragglers due the following week. Yet, I have seven ewes which have not lambed during the expected time frame.

One three-year-old ewe looks very pregnant, but yet to develop a full udder, meaning she’s a ways out (or extremely fat and not pregnant at all). She bred on the first day in with the ram, must have missed her window, and then re-bred fifteen days later. But now she’s missed that due date. So I’m guessing maybe she re-bred a third time and could be due late next week. Hopefully her udder catches up, since I would expect her to twin as she has the past two years.

I saw a two-year-old re-breed in both January and February, and she does not currently look obviously pregnant. So we’ll see if she managed to hold onto that later conception and turns up with a lamb or two in July.

There is one yearling ewe developing an udder, so I’m keeping an eye on her, she must have some belated thing in the cooker. My yearling Jacob-cross looks sway-bellied, like she’s carrying a lamb, but no udder development yet. But then, those Jacobs aren’t very well endowed in that department, so maybe I’m fooled. Then there are three yearling ewes that look entirely like they could be open. Sheez.

I did use two inexperienced rams, so paired with inexperienced ewes, it’s possible that conception didn’t happen until after the mob was put back together, and more senior rams took over the cleanup job.

On top of it, my overall conception rate was down. Of the ones that have lambed thus far, 45 lambs born to 27 ewes, only 167%. That’s a bit weak. I did not flush last fall, and bred fairly late- starting November 5th and ending just before Thanksgiving. We still had grass, but it was diminishing in quantity and I was starting to supplement with hay. So, perhaps not the best nutrition picture for maximum fertility. And, I suspect my selenium issues and other weird mineral imbalances may have played a role in this whole thing. So I probably cannot judge for sure whether my no-flushing experiment had any affect or not.

I did not see any strange fetuses this year (though a few  placentas were gulped down by the dog before I had a chance to look). So I’m guessing I had a one-time event last year, or my new vaccination protocol has cleaned up that issue, as well as the postpartum losses I saw in 2011.

On the flip side, other than the one early-abort, I have not lost a single lamb (knock on wood). Zero losses in pasture lambing with more than a dozen ewes to oversee is not typical. 

I did very few delivery assists, just pulled a couple of lambs that were slow to progress, but probably would have delivered fine on their own if I’d been more patient. I had one breach that delivered anyway, before I could reposition it. No complicated deliveries (again, save the drama of the early-abort) or serious mal-presentations.

I have no true orphan-rears, and that is also odd. I have two hefty guys, each from a set of triplets, who are enjoying supplementation from a bucket due to inadequate milk supply. But they are also nursing a little on their dams and hanging out with them, so they are not quite full-time bottle babies.

For sex ratio of the live lambs, it’s  even-Steven, precisely 22 rams, 22 ewes. That doesn’t happen very often either!

So, that’s it for a strange year in numbers, we’ll see what surprises are in store with those seven mystery ewes!

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