Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lambing Supplies

During lambing season we keep a few totes of lambing supplies in the lambing barn. This saves us several back and forth trips between the barn and the "mudroom". The following list will cover general lambing supplies. If you have any questions regarding vaccinations, treatments or procedures please consult your veterinarian.

Items we keep in the lambing barn—

Gloves—we keep both latex gloves and OB gloves on hand for when we are pulling lambs. We usually wear a latex glove over an OB glove for added dexterity.

SuperLube—an antiseptic lubricant used when pulling lambs or applying ear tags.

"O" Rings and Ring Expander—for docking and castrating. We dock and castrate within 3 days of birth.

(photo) "O" Rings and Ring Expander in use. Carl is pressing the lamb's belly in order to push the testicles into the scrotum. This ensures both testicles are removed during castration. 

Ear Tags and Premier Applicator—animal identification. This year we are using ear tags to denote the sire of the lambs.

Triodine and Navel Cup—Triodine dries navel cords to reduce the risk of infection through the navel.

Prolapse Harness—used to hold a vaginal prolapse in place long enough to get the ewe to her lambing date. Often used in conjunction with a Prolapse Retainer.

Sprayline—we write matching numbers on the ewe and lambs for identification. Also used to mark orphan lambs or lambs that need extra attention.

Clear or plastic Tube and Syringe—we tube newborn lambs with colostrum and unthrifty lambs with milk or colostrum.

Thermometer—used to check the temperature of the lamb.

Disposable Needles and Syringes—to provide various injections. Consult your veterinarian to determine your vaccination protocol.

Ear Notcher—we notch the right ear of all twin or triplet ewe lambs to mark them as potential replacement ewes.

Items we have on hand that don't fit into the totes—

Bucket Teat Units and Milk Replacer—for orphan lambs or to supplement small triplets. Will also need Rubber/Latex Nipples and Bucket(s).

Heat Lamp—we hang one of these over a creep feeder to provide light/warmth to encourage lambs into the creep area.

Orphan Head Gate—holds a ewe in place so a lamb is able to feed. Usually used when grafting lambs to ewes. (photo below)

(photo) Ewe in the Orphan Head Gate.

Creep Feeder Gate—a gate with a series of bars that let only lambs enter the creep area. (photo below)

(photo) A Creep Feeder Gate in use. Lambs have access to supplemental creep and milk replacer.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lambs on the pasture

The first few weeks of the lambing season have gone well for us. The Home Farm ewes are almost done lambing and the ewes on the East Farm look about ready to pop!

Photo: Ewes and lambs grazing alongside ElectroNet Plus

Most of the lambs on the Home Farm are from our home raised ewes that were bred to Hampshire and Suffolk terminal sires. These lambs will be raised for meat. We have a few ewes that were bred to our home raised rams (Border Leicester/Ile de France). The ewe lambs from this cross will be used as replacement ewes.

Photo: This year we are tagging lambs with the ID of their sire. We used several types of lambs last fall for tupping. The lamb ID will allow us to determine which sire produced the best lambs. The Easy Tag II size 2 is imprinted with the sire's breed, current year and Premier logo.
On the Home Farm, newborn lambs and their dams are kept in lambing jugs to aid with bonding. The family units are put on pasture after 3 days in the jugs. The ewes enjoy grazing the lush grass and the lambs enjoy bouncing throughout the field.

Last Thursday we moved the flock onto a wheat field. The field was planted last summer for grazing this spring. Due to the early spring, the field is a few weeks ahead in growth. We've had our yearling ewes grazing an adjacent wheat field (mentioned in a previous post) but this field has not been significantly grazed. The ewes and their lambs should be able to tame the "runaway" wheat. If we left the field lay until we would normally put sheep on it, the wheat would be more mature and less palatable to the sheep.

While moving the sheep, Mike noticed that one of the lambs was smaller than it should be for its age. This is typically a sign of something being wrong with the lamb or its mother. We separated the lamb, its twin and their mother from the flock and brought them back into the lambing barn for observation. We were able to match the lambs and dam by the numbers they had on their sides (we marked ewes and their lambs with Sprayline in order to match them for just this situation).

We will wean the lambs at around 60 days. There are a few variables that can affect the weaning date such as grass quality/quantity, worm load and animal condition.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Out of the woods yet?

Mike and Carl have been rearranging a few of the pastures on the Home Farm. Their goal is to graze a thicket adjacent to one of the permanent pastures, but they needed a fence.

The area in question contains a few ups and downs as well as curves. Carl set up a few rolls of our ElectroNet® Plus. It's the same net as our original ElectroNet® but with a few more posts. It adapts to curves and corners much better and can handle more up and down strain.

Prior to setting out the netting, Carl went through the thicket and pasture with the mower to determine his. If you can't mow, driving over the grass once or twice or trampling it with your feet will suffice. Be sure to clear any brush (if possible) away from the netting to reduce energy drainage. Mowing ahead of time also removes any sticks or debris that could get caught in the net while setting it up. 

Gripping the posts as a group, lift them in front of you and unfold the net by feeding out each post as you walk back wards. It you're not comfortable walking backwards, hold the posts in one hand (if you can) and feed the posts out with the other.

Plus netting is very handy to have in situation where there are a lot of twists and turns in the fence line. The shorter distance between the posts allows for quick directional changes. 

Since ElectroNet Plus is designed for curves and corners, double spikes are included to aid with the side strain. 

When connecting two rolls together, make sure to connect the metal clips together for a strong electrical connection.

After you've made the connection between rolls of fence, continue setting up the remainder of the fence.

Once your fence is installed, connect it to the energizer for optimal effectiveness. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Coming soon...more videos!

Carl, Mike and Tharren putting together a how-to video on vaccinating sheep. 
We've been busy filming and editing how-to videos. Topics covered include setting up a Premier 4000s Shearing Machine to processing lambs. Expect more videos on our homepage and YouTube Channel in the coming months.

Moving sheep down the road

Mike, Carl and I walked a flock of ewe lambs from the Home Farm to the North Farm Tuesday. The ewes were eating down a wheat field that is a few weeks ahead of schedule. By the time we would normally put the flocks on the pasture, the forage would be too mature. When the ewes completed their job they were brought back to the North Farm.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lambing season!

It's officially lambing season at Premier. Mike and Carl have been busy jug lambing our home flock and processing the lambs. Processing for us involves docking, castrating and applying ear tags. We use "O" rings and a ring expander for docking and castrating purposes.

For ear tags we use multiple colors to denote the sire. During breeding season, we used marking crayons on the various rams and documented which ram marked which ewe. This allows us to track whether or not a specific ram produced superior offspring. We used red, purple, pink and white ear tags for the various sires.

While in the barn, Mike documented which ewes had lambed and cross checked that information with which ram tupped (bred) her. The corresponding tags were then inserted into the lambs' ears.

Photo: Carl castrating a ram lamb with a ring expander and "O" ring. Carl is pressing on the animal's belly to encourage the testicles into the scrotum. 

Photo: Tail docking using a ring expander and "O" ring. Two "O" rings may be necessary for docking if a lamb's tail is too thick. If it's fly season, a dose of Catron IV or Pine Tar is recommended to ward off flies. 

Photo: Carl using Super Sprayline to match a lamb to its mother. The mother and lambs will be marked with the same numbers and color of Sprayline. We use three colors to identify singles, twins and triplets.  

You may have noticed we have a few more brockle/speckle faced lambs in comparison to last year. Last fall we used terminal sires (Hampshires, Suffolks and Siremax) to produce meat lambs with our Border Leicester/Ile de France ewes. 

Process wth newborn lambs:
Talk to your local vet to determine your own vaccination and lambing protocols. Also talk to shepherds in your area who have insight as to which diseases are common in your locale.