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.