Tuesday, July 9, 2013


We have finished the spring lamb roundup. They are all weaned, vaccinated against over eating and internal parasites and “branded” with a dot of orange spray paint. The paint is a “just in case” measure. We lift each lamb over the fence after we give it its shots, but sometimes a lamb gets excited and jumps over the fence, or a big group of lambs run right through the fence and knock it down. Without the brands we wouldn’t know who had been done.

This year we also weighed each lamb to see if lambs born in April gain weight faster than lambs born in the cold of February. So far, it doesn’t look like we’ve learned anything useful. Single lambs gain weight faster than twins; twins gain faster than triplets and everybody gains faster than quadruplets. We already knew that. When the quads were born, we knew they’d still be tiny and too small to sell until well into 2014. But they are so much fun we don’t mind. I’ll have to sit down with my salesreceipts from last year to see how early we had 70 pound lambs and how fast the rest reached 70 pounds. As of last Friday, we had one 80# lamb, four 64 – 68 # lambs and a lot of 50# lambs.
We worm the moms first, giving each animal an orange bindi on their forehead after the shot. Then Dave picks up a lamb and hands it over the fence to me. We weigh it, give it two shots and spray a dot of orange on its tail. The lambs practically jump out of our arms to get away. When all the lambs have been marked, we enclose them in a corner of the barn and open the ewe’s pen. We chase the ewes out of the barn and through six pastures, hoping to keep them moving until they reach the farthest pasture from the barn without having any turn around and run back for their lambs. This year things went very well. The ewes all ended up in the far pasture and the lambs settled noisily into the home pasture. It will be several days before they stop calling for each other.

Weaning is hard on everybody. Dave and I each lift every lamb at least once. After they’ve been separated from their moms (by even a few feet) some of the lambs start to cry. Then their moms cry. Then of course, other lambs get upset because of all the crying and they start to cry, and their moms join the chorus. By the time we finish, our arms are weak, our ears are ringing, and our throats are sore from shouting to each other.

We will keep the moms and babies in separate pastures from now on. Even weeks later, if they get together, the babies start nursing again. Moms who are still producing milk very seldom get pregnant. So if we want to breed our sheep in October, we need to have a roundup and wean them in June.

No comments:

Post a Comment