Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lambing Season 2013

Carl dressed to the 9's (degrees that is) and finishing morning chores in the lambing barn.  
The weather of late has been hovering around a balmy 0°F in the morning to a sweltering 15°F in the afternoon. And lambing season is starting for us (funny how cold weather and lambing seem to coincide).

This year our experiment is using a former warehouse as a lambing barn. This new "barn" offers protection from the elements as well as the option of heat (a real treat). There are some kinks that need to be worked out: feeding, watering and ventilation.

For feeding, the farm guys have been busy building single-sided feeders (using our plans and panels of course). They're arranged to form an alleyway, which allows someone to walk down the center and drop feed to the ewes w/o the need to get into the pen (which is nice since many are carrying twins or triplets.

bucket placed in a Premier single-sided feeder. The clip was replaced with a Premier bucket holder for added stability. 
Our normal lambing barn (which will still be used this year) has a PVC pipe that carries water the length of the lambing barn. The pipe has cut-outs (so the animals can drink) and flows continuously (so risk of freezing is reduced). A pipe will be installed in the "new" barn. Until then, ewes will be watered via buckets. Fortunately, there is a water hydrant and hose in the building so the guys won't have to haul individual buckets. The farm guys are experimenting with placing a water bucket (held in place with clips) in the feeder and at an angle. They're also trying different sizes and shapes (square vs round) to determine the optimal bucket for this setup.

There are some ventilation issues to work out—the building was not originally designed as a barn. Keeping livestock in the building will bring in considerable moisture. We'll have to be vigilant about clean bedding and getting clean air into the barn. We're planning on installing a vent pipe, it's just a matter of what size and where.