Experiment - Seems to have worked!

Fur & Sheep


Experiment - Seems to have worked!

Oct 7, 2014 | 10:37 1 Been a while since I was on here. Just home from some travel and might be on the road to Africa if a new thing comes along - more work in "unusual places".

Last Spring we ran into a bit of trouble with "storage" space for animals. Wife was tired of feeding rams - so we kept one of the best and tossed the rest. Then we ran out of pen space because we were in expansion mode - yet again!

So with a bunch of sheep (about 39 Arcot ewes and 79 lambs) getting ready to go out on pasture with lambs at side we needed a place to put one solitary Dorset ram.

She looked at me and said - "If we can run a bull with calves at side why can't we do the same with sheep?"

Me, being the dummy said - "If you want to try it, go right ahead."

So - out on grass they all went including the ram we had no space for.

Just pasture - no extra fancy drugs for fertility and some mineral and salt in the feeding station.

Date in: 01 April

Date out: 20 May

We managed to pull him out when we found a bit of pen space or he would have been still in the group - he is a grumpy SOB and wife does not like to go out in the field unless she has the border collie and a 4 foot long cattle prod to keep him off if he gets uppity - so I did my husbandly duty and locked him up. (IMO Border Collie works best with the ram now that the pup is coming two – he takes no crap from any ram)

Well, we started lambing later than I thought we would - he must have taken a little time to get warmed up. LOL

First lamb hit the ground around the 18’th of September.

But we are now just at the halfway point in lambing.

Wife has 19 ewes lambed out and 34 lambs on the ground. Lost two so far – born when we were not there and the heads did not appear to have been licked off in time – otherwise all has gone well – touch wood. So to date we have managed 36 lambs out of 19 ewes – some triplets, lots of twins and about 5 singles.

Interesting stat here – only 5 females born to this entire group to date – wife says she is keeping them all.

Not too bad for an off season breeding. All seem to be doing well. Some of the ewes do not appear to be bred, but there are at least another 10 that are bagging up heavy.

I will be interested in seeing the final numbers when they show up. Nice thing to date is NO BOTTLE babies! Probably just jinxed myself.

With two more pens of 40 ewes each coming due - one for breeding and one for lambing - it might be a busy year coming.

Best to all. Reply With Quote
Oct 11, 2014 | 17:28 2 Interesting. I have the same " where to put the ram issue here" what I did was just leave him out. He has been hanging around out in the cow pasture with his donkey buddy and an elderly cow with her calf. Quite a motley crew. Especially after the " burr incident". He stays in the fence though, and having his own personal body guard, I don't worry about his safety.

Lately he's been starting to by the ewes making goo goo eyes at them through their fence. He knows breeding season is coming up. Lol Reply With Quote
Oct 12, 2014 | 20:06 3 Burr episode?

LOL - I can only imagine!

Our experiment is starting to slow - we are well over 40 lambs now and still have a few ewes to go - suspect we will not make 50 lambs - but we should be close - not bad for just doing it like we do cows - put them all out together with the lambs on mom and let the ram breed them. Sold most of the original lambs about a month before we started lambing - holding about 15 back for restaurant trade. Believe it or not ground lamb is the big seller!

I suspect we will drop from a usual 1.8 - 2.1 lambing ratio down to about 1.1 - 1.3 - or so - but these are bonus lambs and will sell well at Christmas. Money for mom!!

If we had not done this the girls would have had the entire summer off.

At times I wonder if we should should simply grow to 300 and do a once a year lambing or if we should stay at around 120 and lamb year round. Lots of frigging around and it takes a bit of time.

Have a good one Kato - hope all your animals do well. Reply With Quote
Oct 13, 2014 | 00:07 4 When were the original lambs born? Did you wean them early? Reply With Quote
Oct 13, 2014 | 21:59 5 Original lambs would have been born around Jan and early Feb - so they would have been 60 - 90 days and some a bit older old when we put them out on pasture

Put the ram in with them

Did not wean them off until it was time to go to market in early July but by then most of the ewes had kicked them off anyway.

Had one big single born tonight - wife figures we are about done lambing. I think she might be right.

Will get the total numbers together this week and pout it all up.

Planning to send 100% lambs to market no matter the weight right before Christmas and throw the ram back in on Christmas Eve.

Not sure how far we can push this crew with no supplement other than grain - but it is a small batch and they are good girls.

Time will tell. Reply With Quote
Oct 14, 2014 | 22:25 6 Your next batch will be close to mine. My ram goes in first week of December. Looks like a good system. Makes better use of facilities.

I have to time lambing for when the cows don't need the barn, so accelerating won't work here. Hubby's calving barn is also my lambing barn. For some reason, the cows always seem to get the priority. Lol Reply With Quote
Oct 15, 2014 | 10:13 7 Hey Kato - might be time to put up a small dedicated building. Not sure how many animals you have, but a garage package with insulation is a good building for a small flock. Just be sure to put a garage door at each end - allows the tractor to go right through when cleaning up.

If the weather is good use a few hog panels to create an outdoor pen on one end and let them roam in and out. Just feed them on the ground around the outside of the improvised pen. When it gets bad lock them in and feed them inside.

A couple of guys could do this in just a few days. I would not even bother with a floor - just leave it dirt.

Our cows would take priority, but they never even see the barn - in the winter they sleep in a big cedar bush that keeps them warm and dry. When we calve out in the spring - if the weather is bad we just turn the pairs into our shop for a couple of days - loose. Can make for some interesting times -especially when we need to open the big doors!

We are done lambing now - they will all go outside to one of the three sided shelters once the youngest are about a month old.

When we sit down to do the numbers, it will be interesting to see how this flock did on the profitability scale.

Be safe and be happy. Reply With Quote
Mar 3, 2017 | 00:17 8 Thanks for sharing this information. Reply With Quote