Last week I attended a talk on the new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). This continues to be a topic that “everyone is freaking out about” when I don’t think most need be. On hand to present were Amber Itle, a WSDA Field Veterinarian and Cat Marrier, a WSDA Feed Specialist. I was already pretty familiar with the law change, having read up on it when it was proposed in the Federal Register, and following it as it became law. But I did pick up a few tidbits of interesting info I didn’t know!

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The grass is looking fantastic this spring, we’ve had a great mix of warm weather and rain. The abundant feed is a gift, but it comes with the overhead of moving fencing every few days. I was able to start grass rotation on the south property March 5th, and the sheep just returned to that area two weeks ago. It is reed canarygrass (RCG) so though they grazed it down to nubbins in March, it is already taller than me and forming seed heads! It is both a very productive, and vexing grass.

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LineupI attended the KHSI Expo last weekend, in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Since it took me all day to fly there (I lose three hours traveling in that direction) I second-guessed myself whether it’s worth the time and expense to go all that way. But, it was, I had a great  time. Part of it is visiting with friends and making new ones, who are all sheep and Katahdin fanatics. I shared a room with two other women, so that was cheap; we were fed as part of the registration fee, so my biggest expense was just the flight. There were several really good speakers that I enjoyed- people I would likely never hear on this coast. I hardly got any sleep. And, I do enjoy the chance to evangelize NSIP when I can, and that venue is a prime opportunity. I’ll probably write a couple of posts about seminars I attended. But today I want to comment on the sale.

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Molasses faceTwo cases this week! The one bit of fallout from my farm sitter debacle was a ewe that stopped eating the Thursday following the weekend of missed feedings. She is one of my purchased ewes from Missouri, so I will be extra bummed if anything happens to her or her lambs. She looks bigger than most of the ewelambs, so I suspect she is carrying twins or triplets. She is also carrying a lot of condition, with a BCS of about 4.5. Fat ewes are at greater risk of pregnancy toxemia than ideally-conditioned ewes, ironically; as they are more likely to start mobilizing fat reserves to feed the lambs, and kick themselves into ketosis.

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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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