Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lambing Jugs

With lambing season already here for many, a few of the questions we've answered have pertained to lambing jugs. Our lambing system tends to shift from year to year but one of the constants is our use of lambing jugs for indoor lambing.

Q. How big should they be for different breeds? 
A. Usually the following:
  • Small breeds—4'x4'
  • Medium breeds—5'x5'
  • Large breeds—5'x6' or 6'x6' 

Q. How tall should they be?
A. Use your own judgement. Ewes that are flighty or are jumpers, taller panels are recommended. For calmer ewes, shorter sides are acceptable. 

Q. Should they be open or solid?
A. Solid sides have merit in older drafty barns—they block drafts. 
For barns that are not as drafty or if lambing in warmer weather, open sides allow the ewe to see other sheep (in our experience, this helps to calm them). 

Q. How long should the ewes stay in them?
A. Standard for most flocks is 1-3 days. 
  • Big healthy single lambs—1 day in the jug 
  • Twins—2 days
  • Triplets—2-3 days

Q. What is the best bedding to use?
A. A variety of bedding types can be used. We have more or less used them all. 
  • Straw is probably the best/easiest to get (Around $3.25-$5 bale). 
  • Wood shavings are soft and work well but cost a little more ($6-$10 per bale locally).
  • Corn stalks, though rough, are cheap and plentiful in our area. 
  • Corn cobs work well if available. 

Q. What is the best way to water ewes in the jug?
A. We have a few different systems in place for watering our ewes. 
  • The first is a PVC pipe that runs the length of the barn. Holes are cut into the pipe every 4'-5' to allow ewes access to the water. Water constantly flows through the pipe which keeps it from freezing. 
  • For pens not next to the water pipe we use individual buckets
  1. Buckets are filled via a hose. The shepherd walks along the jugs and tops off the buckets. 
  2. A large stock tank is filled and buckets are taken out of the pens, filled by dipping into the tank and returned to the jug. (In talks for being put into practice this year, not official yet.)
Q. How do we feed them in the jug?
A. Welded wire bale feeders, square buckets, BYO feeders and even tile drainage tube have been used in recent years.