Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Making Small Squares

Last week we made small square bales from a clover field on our home farm. The bales will be used this winter to feed ewes in our lambing jugs. Their size makes them easy to handle, a bale fits well in our drive-by/walk thru feeder or a flake in one of our single or double sided hay feeders. 

Danny and Adrian were on the rack while Carl drove the tractor. When the rack was full it was hauled to the hay barn. When the rack was unhooked, Carl and Danny returned to the field with an empty rack and back to baling.

Adrian went to get the tractor with the bucket to push the rack into the barn. To be productive while waiting for Adrian, I tried pulling the rack into the barn by hand. It was 1/3 of the way in when Adrian arrived to push. As it turns out, it's easier to use the tractor to push the wagon than it is to pull it by hand! We brought the wagon into the barn front end first because it allows us to unload directly into the hay mound (instead of working around the gallous on the back).

While unloading, Adrian placed bales on either side of the tongue and onto the tongue. This formed a ramp/bridge. Adrian would drop bales onto the ramp and they rolled to where I was stacking. When the rack was emptied we would haul it back to the field and trade for the rack Danny and Carl just filled.

When we finished, the barn had an additional 4 racks of hay stuffed inside and we were ready for an iced tea!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Processing Lambs 2012

The other day Carl poked his head into Graphics and asked for some help processing lambs. Since it was a beautiful June morning, I did not hesitate in offering my assistance. After a quick change into "chore clothes" plus a short drive to the North farm, I was ready to process lambs.

Processing involves running the ewes and their lambs through the handling system and pulling out the lambs. At Premier we dock tails and castrate the males. To dock and castrate we use a Ring Expander (also known as an elastrator) and O Rings. If a tail is particularly thick we may use two rings. After the rings are applied, we pour a Pine Tar and Triodine-7 mixture on the rings to prevent infection and to ward off flies. 

Ear tags were also applied and documented during processing. Ear tags allow us to immediately know sire data, age of the lamb and whether it was a single, twin or triplet. An ear tag can tell us all this by color, which ear it is placed in as well as the data included on the tag. We plan to track the weight and performance of our lambs to determine which sire produced the best lambs. After the tag is applied, we spray Catron IV onto both sides of the tag to keep the flies from bothering the wound. 

For instructional videos on tagging, docking and castrating, visit the video section of our website

There were four of us involved in processing lambs. It seemed to be the right amount. Each person had a specific job:
Carl: Castrate lambs, apply pine tar and spray with sprayline if needed. 
Mike: Dock tails and apply pine tar. If a twin born ewe, notch the ear. 
Joe: Tag and document the ear tag. Spray Catron IV on the ear. 
Adrian: Catch and hand off the lamb. 

We were able to do about a lamb per minute (112 lambs in 2 hours). This also included bringing the sheep in from the field, setting up the handling system and running the flock back through the handling system.