Thursday, February 18, 2016

The trouble with teasers

A teaser is a ram with a vasectomy. We turn the teaser in with the ewes 17 days before we turn the fertile ram in. The teaser will, being a ram, begin mounting ewes and the ewes will begin cycling into estrus. When we take the teaser out of the pasture and put the ram in, the ewes will get pregnant rapidly.

Teasers are just like rams except for the fertility part. They are aggressive toward people. You never walk into a pasture with a ram in it without keeping an eye on the ram. They are also aggressive toward other rams. One minute they can be sharing their morning corn and the next minute they might be trying to kill each other. And finally, teasers and rams will frequently go over or through a fence to get to a flock of ewes in estrus. We spend a lot of time repairing fences that the rams have torn down.

The final trouble with teasers is that you don't realize how important they are until it's too late. Our teaser died several years ago. We didn't replace him and didn't think anything of it. Our ewes always lambed right on time.

This year, we planned lambing early so that we could go hear our daughter Laurel sing with the St. Louis Symphony on February 28. When the week of January 15th came and went without any lambs, I redid my calculations. I'd been a week off. Our first lambs weren't due until the 22nd. By February 14, only three old ewes had lambed. Finally, on February 15, 21 days after we should have had the first rush of lambs, three more ewes lambed. This morning, we had thirteen lambs in the barn. By 2 P.M., we had 16. Lambing has actually begun.

We've learned our lesson and already selected a lamb to be our next teaser. Not having a teaser will not be one of our troubles in the future. It remains to be seen whether we finish lambing before the 28th. Twenty ewes need to lamb in the next ten days. It's possible, but not something over which we have any control. Maybe that's the real trouble with teasers, they are just one more thing over which a shepherd has very little control.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure we have ever seen Dave without facial hair. Always thought he wore it so that he didn't look like a teenager to his patients. Now I know it helps protect him from lamb french kisses. Tony & Jan