Livestock Nutrition


I have written many times before about my affection for Pat Coleby’s book, Natural Sheep Care. This book is really just about mineral supplementation; but it has a strange mix of other topics sprinkled in. (Who knows why, they don’t really belong, but maybe a publisher thought the book needed to be rounded-out). I first read it several years ago, and my copy is worn from constant referencing.

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Lambing is almost over here, I have one late ewe left to deliver whom I think is due next weekend. Total count so far is 64 lambs, which is low, but not terrible. I have eight open ewes, six of which are yearlings. So now it’s time to pour over data and start making decisions about which sheep to keep, sell, and cull; as well as decisions about management changes for next year.

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Well, lambing season is (mostly) over, here are the results of my year thus far.

The good

The season was extremely easy. Other than the one dystocia instance, almost every other ewe lambed without intervention. The birth rate was really even, with one or two ewes lambing each day. For the most part, I didn’t have to lift a finger. I just strolled out when each ewe was done lambing, and weighed and tagged the lambs. I pulled a couple of lambs where it just happened that I was there, the labor had gone on a while, and I thought it best. But all of them pulled easily and probably would have delivered fine on their own if I hadn’t been there.

I slept through the night every night. Ahhhh.

The lambs were very vigorous, all immediately getting up on their feet and nursing on their own. I helped out two sets of triplets with some supplemental bottle feeding.

Birth weights looked good, just from my general observation. I have yet to graph them to see how they compared overall to previous years. 

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BottleLambsThis year, I had the opportunity to use raw cow’s milk for my homemade milk replacer recipe, rather than store-bought milk or powdered milk replacer. The lambs did extremely well on it. My impression was that they grew better than bottle lambs from all past years; so I wanted to graph it and see if it was true.

It was!

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First of all, apologies to our friends to the East, who have this:

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Here in the Pacific Northwest, things look a little different. About this time of year, Mother Nature says, Ding! Your grass is ready to eat!

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