Is how long it takes for four rams to find five fertile ewes in a group of 120 ewes all circling in chaos. This happened last September, I was doing some chores in the field and driving back and forth between pastures. At one point, I only shut one of a double-gated passage, thinking I was going to go back through there in a few minutes. The mature rams are vigilant and watch my every move when I’m going through gates, and they don’t miss an opportunity. I must not have latched the gate securely, and they pushed it open while I was distracted doing something in the field. I figure they were in there for about twenty minutes before I was able to get a dog and wrangle them all back to where they belonged. Twenty minutes resulting in nine early-bird lambs born at the end of February. (more…)
March 7, 2017
February 5, 2017
Almost every year I have a ewe or two that delivers an unplanned breeding. Either due to a ram breakout too early in the fall, or perhaps she lost a pregnancy early-on, and re-bred once all the rams were all together with the we group. Often I don’t care who the sire is, I just mark it down as “UNK” (unknown). Then, the lamb either goes to the slaughter channel, or I sell at a discount the mystery ewelambs as 50% recorded ewes.
This time, with those January triplets, I was interested in the parentage. The mother is a good ewe and I’d like to register them. So, I DNA tested them. I already had DNA banked on all my adult rams, and the cost is $18 per lamb to match them up with the appropriate sire. Er, sires.
January 10, 2017
The standard rules of thumb for sheep husbandry are these: a) keep rams in a separate location except for breeding season b) wean lambs at 60 days (or even earlier) c) ensure that ram lambs are removed from ewe groups by 90 days of age and d) use somewhat barbaric methods to get ewes to “dry off” post-weaning, such as withholding water and feeding them straw. I break all of these rules.
January 1, 2017
I’m finally getting around to analyzing my lamb yield from last spring, driven by my need to plan vaccine purchases for 2017 lambing, which is driven by my need to analyze what went wrong from last season!
April 18, 2016
Old #33 is thirteen this year. I really intended to cull her after last season, but… I didn’t. For various reasons of procrastination, guilt, a summer schedule turned on its head by drought and hay feeding, and because I wanted to retain enough mature ewes to have an increasing crop size. She had single lambs the last two years, which was ideal for her, not too big of a load. Wouldn’t you know it, she conceived twins this time, and it nearly killed her.
March 28, 2016
We are off and running on spring things. It’s been a warm Feb-March, so I was able to get the sheep on our new south property pasture for grazing at the beginning of this month. I was nervous about it, since we’re pushing into territory that’s been occupied by coyotes for a long time. But, so far so good. I set up the trail cam on the far edges of the graze strips, to see if any coyotes were lingering there, eyeballing sheep. Not a single one spotted. There are plenty out there, heard singing in that far woods at night. So, the presence of the protection dogs must be doing the trick. It sure is nice to have all that extra grass, tho a lot of labor to string portable fencing there too. I was also hauling water, since that’s many hose-lengths away from the nearest faucet. Fortunately, the sheep don’t drink a whole lot when they are eating wet, green grass. I captured only a few in the picture, but I have 79 adults and yearlings in that grazing group.
December 20, 2015
I’m cleaning off some things on my desk, and one is the slide deck & notes from a presentation by Dr. Robert Van Saun at the KHSI Expo last August. This was a fantastic presentation titled “Meeting the Nutritional Needs of Sheep to Promote Health and Performance.” He focused on pregnancy feeding. Those of you who know me well will recognize that this topic was right up my alley, especially on the subject of macro and micro element supplementation; and its health consequences.