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.