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.


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.


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.



I bred my ewes starting November 7th. After three weeks, I re-grouped all the ewes, and left them with one ram, with a new crayon color. He serves as a clean-up ram and hopefully the blue crayon will clue me in on any ewes which cycled, or re-cycled, in that second round (three, so far). And, I can register those lambs, since I’ll know who the sire is.

After the second three weeks, I’ll put my other two rams in with the ewe group for the winter, for easier management. If any ewe breed later in the season, I just won’t know when or by whom. This is generally ok, I usually get one or two of thee “mystery” lambs in late spring or early summer. If they’re boys, they’ll go into the slaughter channel. If they are girls, I sell them at a slight discount as 50% recorded ewes. I like managing one group of sheep over the winter, and I have an ample market for butcher lambs and recorded ewes, so this management tradeoff works out for me.


I spotted an interesting bit of data on two sibling rams that made me pause for a moment. Usually, when rams are born, they simply inherit an average of the NSIP maternal traits coming from their parents. So their scores will be identical here, and won’t typically change until those rams have female progeny, which are subsequently bred, feeding data back up the pedigree to their sires. Where the rams will differ distinctly is on weight data, once it’s collected on them, and averaged with the scores coming out of their pedigree history. But a quick glance at these twins highlights something notable in their data at four months of age: