Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A successful lambing season

Lambing season's over, although there's two more ewes that could lamb late. There were more single births and fewer triplets this year, which I attribute to the poor nutrition last summer and fall. We had the worse drought ever, and on top of that, I hurt my back, restricting my ability to feed. I had round bales put out for the ewes and they were of very poor quality.

Despite the lower lambing percentage, lambing was good. I only lost one lamb, until yesterday when my favorite lamb, Isabella, got crushed by a metal gate. I was heartbroken. I must have arrived shortly after the accident. Her body was still warm. Out of 60 lambs, why did it have to be her? I had planned to keep her for breeding. She was RR. Her mom is a quad.

All of the yearlings have done well. The first three to lamb have nice single lambs on them. Miss Piggy is raising a nice set of red ram lambs. 24's latest daughter also has twins on her, two ewe lambs. They were the smallest litter (weight-wise), but are growing just fine. This year's lambs were definitely on the heavier side, a result of fewer multiples and good nutrition during late gestation.

I use to worry about yearlings lambing. I breed my ewe lambs when they are seven months of age, so that they are mothers by the time they are 12 to 13 months of age. But now, they seldom have problems. I keep them separate until they wean their first lamb(s).

To my surprise, 24, the best producing ewe in the flock for the past several years, only had a single lamb. After all those years of triplets, she's only got one -- a very nice ewe -- to look after and feed. I attribute it to a combination of her age (now 9) and the poor nutrition. I'll probably keep her around for another year.

92, now 12, kept coming back into heat, and I last saw her mated (by the crossbred ram) in January. That would mean June babies. Stranger things have happened. A ewe that I call "Patch" because of the color splotch over her eye was observed being bred on December 10. It looks like she may be bagging up. If so, she'll lamb around May 5. It may be wishful thinking on my part to think that either of these ewes will lamb.

I have two bottle lambs: Lillie and Legs. Lillie is a triplet lamb out of an old black ewe, whose udder has seen its better days. It took Lillie's litter mates several days to figure out how to nurse from mom's low-hanging udder. I decided to keep Lillie on the bottle.

I call the other bottle lamb, Legs, because until recently you practically had to pin her down to get the nipple in her mouth. Her mother injured her udder last year and got mastitis. She didn't come back to milk on the affected side. She's raising a ram lamb, and I'm sure Legs gets a bit of milk as well. Both lambs have the genetics to grow.


Mormotabárány said...

Dear Susan, I found your blog since a few days. I live far away from you, In Hungary, Europe. I live in the big city and have a very busy life juest now, but my life's dream is about one day having a sheep and goat farm. I began for some time ago to study sheep farming in an online course which may sound ridiculous, but it is just about making me feel like I am getting closer to my dream. I was reading your blog because I have to write about different ways of breeding now, but I have to say you I found your blog absolutely beautiful and lovely. I can learn a lot about everything related to sheep farming. I just wanted to thank you. Your farm is beautiful, your animals are gorgeous and well kept and look very happy. Your photos are marvelous. I was very happy to read your blog. Congrats and I will read it every time I can. I hope you will continue with your nice blog. Have a great day! Monika from Hungary

Susan said...

Thank you for your comments. I visited Hungary in 1990, a long time ago. It was a wonderful visit. I worked on a project in which we were evaluating the economic feasibility of raising dairy sheep as part of a larger coop farm. It was with a university in Kaposvar.