TripletsAlmost 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.

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Trio

What is this trio of eaters eating? Something delectable and delicious?

Eaters

A hearty bowl of grain? Something sweetened with molasses? A savory bowl of fresh-picked dandelions or morning glory? Concentrated alfalfa pellets?

Nope.

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EweWithTripletsThe 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.

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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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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.

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Every year I waffle on how I want to do my ear tags. Custom tags are expensive, so it’s right that I waffle. The eventual size I  prefer on my adult sheep is Premier’s size 5, because it’s readable from afar. But those tags are too huge to put on lamb ears, necessitating the use of smaller tags at birth; then replacing them with bigger tags at 60 days of age, using the healed-up hole created by the first tags. This scheme is most practical for readability; and also identifiability (if a lamb loses one tag, I still have the other to ID him until I get a replacement tag in). But it is least practical in cost, and labor; as re-tagging both ears in all the lambs is some effort. I’m about to order tags for this years’ lambs, so am revisiting the self-debate all over again.

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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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