Saturday, June 09, 2012

Time for weaning

A ewe lambed yesterday. Twin lambs. A ewe and a ram. Katahdins. I'm not sure who the sire of the lambs is.  The ewe, a 2-year old, must have aborted from an earlier breeding. This is the latest I've ever had lambs born. I will keep them in a jug for a few days then put them back on pasture. They will do fine.

A June birth

Most of the rest of the lambs are ready for weaning. I will try to do that tomorrow.  Some of the lambs are simply too big to still be nursing their mothers. They are eating a good amount of creep feed. Most of the ewes have gotten through the lactation period in pretty good shape, a result of my generous feeding.

The pasture is in good shape after being recently mowed. Now, I need to walk around the fields and spray the thistles with Roundup. I also need to pull a soil sample. Haven't done that in a few years. The pasture probably needs limed.

Ready for weaning

Soon after the lambs are weaned, I will be able to start selling them.  I'm already starting to think about which ewes to breed to which ram for next year's lamb crop. Since I sold Marcus, my Katahdin stud, I will be getting a new Katahdin ram this year. I will continue to breed with my two crossbred rams, Spooner (Lacaune x Katahdin) and B-ears (Katahdin x Blackface).

I'm still not sure which ewe lambs I will keep for breeding. I would like to keep at least one "Mule" ewe lamb and one dairy ewe lamb. I'm down to one black ewe, so I may keep the only black lamb born. The ewe that is raising quads has two ewes amongst them, so I will probably select the best one for  replacement. I also have a young ewe raising a nice set of triplets. Two are ewes.  I might select one of these. Their male sibling is a "giant."

Potential keeper:  quad ewe lamb

I may split my flock into two groups this year for breeding. I may lamb part of the flock earlier, perhaps in February. This group could utilize the early pasture growth.  It would also allow me to move two groups of ewes and lambs through the hoop house, which has limited space and not enough for the current number of ewes I have to lamb all at once.

Shedding seems to have been a bit slower this year, a result of a cool spring. I sheared the two crossbred rams. Since Spooner is more than 50 percent wooled, he was like shearing a regular sheep. B-ears was much easier to shear.  His fleece is short and a good part of his body is woolless.  The "Mule" ewes seem to be shedding out nicely. They are 3/4 Katahdin x 1/8 Suffolk x 1/8 Hampshire (3/4 hair x 1/4 wool).

Katahdin "Mule" - 3/4 Katahdin x 1/4 Blackface

My mom asked me why I have sheep that neared sheared. I told her that the hair sheep gene pool is too small. Utilizing wooled sheep offers so many more opportunities for crossbreeding and breed improvement. The Katahdin registration book is open to do just that. Of course, all crossbreeding (for breeding stock) needs to strive to maintain the traits for which the Katahdin is best known:  no shearing or docking, parasite resistance, and a higher level of reproduction. This is my goal.

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