I am a week into lambing. It’s going just fine, the weather has (mostly) cooperated so far, and the crisis load has been manageable, though still a lot of work. I’ve learned not to plan to get a lot done during my lambing “vacation” besides lambing, because there are just so many interrupts and things to do.

As of this morning, I have had 52 lambs born lambs out of 25 ewes. Two were stillborn, two aborted early. Seven sets of triplets. So, my conception rate is really good this year, I think I did well on flushing and the teaser ram affect last fall. Birth weights are low, so this means I did not do so well in the last month of pregnancy feeding. It’s funny, earlier in the winter, a lot of my ewes were fat, and I was concerned about that causing too-big fetuses. I opted to only grain them in the last 30 days because of this; but now I can see that was in error.

I didn’t have lab tests on my hay this year, and I could tell there were bales in the load from at least two different fields. The stuff I’d been feeding towards the end I thought was the prettier hay, fine-bladed and green.  But, looks can be deceiving with hay; so perhaps the browner, mature-looking Timothy bales were indeed better nutrition, judging by how well the sheep did on them earlier in the season. Oh well, the lambs have almost all been vigorous and strong; so as long as we don’t get any long spells of really cold downpours, I won’t worry about the smaller-framed ones.

And, the nice thing about small birth weights is delivery is super easy. This ewe pictured had trips unassisted. I strolled out to see the first one born, cleaned and rising to nurse. I went to do some other chores, and came back out to see the other two delivered, dry and fed. I really like this ewe. She has the perfect balance of maternal instinct without paranoia or hysteria. She keeps her lambs close, she knows she’s got three, and makes sure all are accounted for. These scenarios are my favorite “one touch” lambs- I touch them once to tag and weigh them when they are born, and then I won’t likely have to touch them again until I weigh them at sixty days. The mother does all the work, all on pasture, no fiddling required from me.

I expect 35 more ewes to lamb. Thirteen of those are yearlings, so I don’t think I’ll quite maintain the 200% conception, but I may be close. Earlier in the winter I worried that over 100 lambs might be too many to sell. But darn if I don’t already have a lot of deposits for breeding stock coming in, plus butcher lamb reservations, to where I’m actually worried about having enough! Every year I try to increase production, but every year, so does demand increase! It’s a good problem to have, I guess!

Advertisements