Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ram Pedicure Results

Photo: Brian McArtor demonstrating how to trim hooves without the help of a deck chair. He is also using a pair of ARS Trimmers.

Mike and I finally trimmed the hooves of the rams Friday afternoon. Of course we had to use a few Premier products (these are Premier sheep on the Premier farm after all).

Mike held the ram in the Deck Chair as I trimmed his feet (the ram's not Mike's). All the trimmers sliced through the hard and dry hooves without issue. The air powered PowerParers worked well for the less detailed work of snipping the tips and overgrowth. To put a finishing touch on each hoof, I got nose to hoof with the ExoTrim and ARS Trimmers. Mike also used a Hoof Rasp several times, but the majority of the work was done with the trimmers. The job was completed with only a few minor mishaps, but they were nothing a dusting of Blood Stop Powder and SureFlexx Bandage couldn't fix.

Photo: The PowerParers cut down on hand fatigue by running off an air compressor rather than brute strength.

I received the reward for all the backbreaking work when I went to put on my coat the next day, and was knocked out by the lingering scent of ram. Luckily ram pheromones are a substitute for smelling salts and I was rudely awakened as quickly as I was knocked unconscious.

The whole ordeal was justified when the rams seemed to admire one another's pedicures. And happily, some were walking more comfortably as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hoof Trimming Update

Well, we've had a busy week so far applying even more raddle marker to the breeding rams and taking forage samples of our silage bales, but we haven't trimmed the hooves on the rams yet. I don't think that Mike is looking forward to that project.

To collect the forage samples of the silage bales, I had to drill into the bales with a drill bit that collected the sample as I made the hole, and then I had to repair the plastic cover of the bale. After drilling into and repairing 75+ bales, I'm curious as to what we are really feeding our sheep. We'll send the samples for a nutritional analysis (most likely for protein and minerals).

Hopefully we'll wrestle with the rams and take care of their hoof issues, otherwise what kind of shepherd would I be?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Preview for Next Week: Do Rams Like Pedicures?

Photo: Mike Corderman and Brian McArtor trimming a boer goat's hooves.

While walking down the hallway this afternoon I was stopped by Mike who asked me a very serious question, "are you busy the first half of next week?" I smelled a chance to get outside so I responded, "no, not yet." It turns out that our rams need their hooves trimmed, so check in later next week and I'll have something to say about wrestling well muscled Ile De France rams and attempting to provide them with pedicures.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Love is in the Air

The pastures of Premier are dappled with blue, orange and bright green smudges. The smudges are the ewes that have been marked by the rams this breeding season. Most of the rams have been turned out, but some were held back until early last week. Last Monday morning, Mike and I applied raddle marker to the chests of our three remaining rams. The raddle will give us the means to know which ewes have been bred.

Photo: Mike adds the first coat of Raddle Marker to our breeding rams. This is only the first of many coats for the season.

Monday's color of choice was blue, but during the past several weeks we have used green and orange markers.

Once the "boys" were released with the ewes, their noses were up in the air looking for that special someone.

Photo: This Ile de France ram is demonstrating the Flehmen Response, notice the curled lip and nose tilted in the air.

On Friday the rams and ewes were sent through the handling equipment, we documented the ewes that were marked by the rams. We use this information to determine when the ewes will be ready to lamb based on their 145 gestation period (ex. a ewe bred on November 5 should be ready to lamb on March 29th).

Photo: The raddle marker provides a distinctive mark for identification of bred ewes.

While the rams were restrained in the handling equipment, we applied more raddle marker to them, they seem to use quite a bit of the raddle marker.

At the East Farm, a new lambing/feeding building is nearing completion, the waterlines were finished Thursday, the window screens need to be installed and the electrical lines have yet to be run. Otherwise, the building is up and the sheep are now able to get out of the wind on the East Farm.

After playing "Love Connection", we brought baleage (hay silage) from the Home Farm to the East Farm. This will become a more common task during the winter when the pastures are covered in snow and the sheep are unable to find fresh grass.

Photo: Mike prepares some giant marshmallows (excuse me, haylage bales) for the sheep.

We unwrapped the bales and placed bale feeders around them. Once the bales were unwrapped, the sweetly acidic smell of silage permeated both the air and our nostrils.

Photos: The sheep decided that the haylage was indeed palateable and have since gone through several other bales. The bales are served in a Round Bale Feeder, not quite a silver platter but close enough.

Once the bales were placed the sheep were shepherded into the barn and after some hesitant chomps out of the bale, the sheep accepted their new diet and dug in. We'll have to bring more bales over in the next few days. This is our first year using silage on the farm, so feeding silage to our ewes will be a learning experience. We'll let you know how it turns out!

Photo: Dennis, Tracy, Mike and Patches hard at work herding the sheep.