Saturday, December 31, 2011


At this time of the year, our ewes eat and sleep, eat and gestate, and eat. Their growing fetuses are taking up more and more space, to the point where the sheep can’t eat enough hay to fulfill their nutritional requirements. That’s why, about six weeks before the first lamb is due, we begin feeding corn.

The first week of corn, we feed one half bucket divided into sixteen feeders. It doesn’t look like much extra food for 50 animals. Every Sunday after that, well into lambing, we increase the corn by half a bucket until we are feeding six to eight buckets of corn daily.

The sheep love the corn. When they hear the first patter of corn kernels hit the surface of their plastic feeders, they maaa and rush around the barn to gather at the gate into the feed area. When we open the gate, they swarm in, claim a feeder (which they must share with three other sheep), and eat as fast as they can (because of the three other sheep).

Within minutes, the corn is gone and the sheep wander back to the hay feeders which we filled while they were eating corn. This morning, all but three animals stuck their heads into the hay feeders to continue eating – Kaylie the alpaca, the cashmere/ angora cross goat who wasn’t bred, and a single brown ewe who I suspect isn’t pregnant. I’ll watch that ewe during lambing, perhaps in the future we could use hunger as a pregnancy test.
Of course Cedar, my niece Leah’s pet goat, is the most ravenous eater of all, and although he looks it, he’ll never be pregnant; he just keeps eating.

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