Saturday, April 30, 2016

Proud of This Year's Yearlngs.

Last year, I was very proud of my yearlings. Each of them raised a quality set of twins. This year's yearlings are also making their shepherdess proud. Eight ewes are raising fourteen lambs:  9 ewe lambs and 5 ram lambs. The first ewe had a single ewe lamb. The rest of the ewes gave birth to twins. One ewe had a deformed lamb (stiff, bent front leg) that I had put down. Thus, the yearlings' lambing percentage, assuming they wean all their lambs, is 175 percent.

One of the crossbred ewes with her twin lambs

Half of the yearling ewes are registered Katahdin. One will need a coat inspection to get her full registration paper, as she's 12 percent Hampshire x Suffolk: a Katahdin "Mule." The other yearlings are 16 percent Lacaune (dairy). Their lambs will be 8 percent Lacaune (92% Katahdin) and can be recorded as 50 percent Katahdin with the breed association. The daughters of these lambs will produce lambs that can be 100% registered Katahdin.

Of course, the yearlings are raising their lambs in the new carport barn. They have lots of room and fresh air. Sadly, it hasn't rained much since they moved in; so, I don't know how wet they might get from a good rain. I set up a creep pen in the corner of the end that is closed. I have some concern that the grain might get wet. If this turns out to be the case, I will put up a tarp in that corner.

In the carport barn

There are two more yearlings left to lamb. I hadn't planned on keeping them, but when I did, I put them in with the ram (Eddie). One is due May 9, as she bred as soon as she was joined with the ram. The other ewe should lamb soon thereafter. The mature ewe that didn't lamb yet doesn't seem to be bagging up. Her due date would be May 12, if she bred on the last day she was with a ram. It's doubtful. I think I'll put her in my freezer. She's fat enough. Maybe I can make bacon from her belly!

My ewe with EBVs is raising twin ewes.

You can only be making progress in your breeding program if your yearling ewes are raising some of the best lambs. I feel that this is the case with my flock.  I keep my yearling ewes as a separate production unit until after they wean their lambs. From now on, I think I'll keep them as a separate unit until they are bred for the second time.  I specifically had the carport barn built to house the yearlings and their lambs.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Carport barn

The new carport barn is ready for sheep. It was a four-phase project. The first phase required the removal of old structures (shed and fenced-in pen). The second phase was to level the building site. Three loads of gravel were used. The carport was installed on April 5. Today, the wood sides were installed, along with some eye  hooks to allow installation of gates to make smaller pens.

Ready for sheep!

Tomorrow, the yearlings and their lambs will be moved to the new building. Seven ewes have twelve lambs. One yearling has yet to lamb. A corner of the new building will be sectioned-off to provide a creep area for the lambs. I may put up some electric netting to provide a small pasture for the ewes and their lambs.

I plan to paint the outside of the wood sides, green to go along with the color of the carport.  I've decided to add another level of 2 x 4's (along the bottom of carport roof) in case I want to put tarps or curtains up to cover the open areas.. My dad's idea.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

New Building

The new building will soon be ready to be inhabited by sheep. The yearlings and their lambs will be moved in as soon as the building is complete.

The first three phases of the project are complete. The first phase was to remove an old shed and pen. Fence posts had to be pulled up from the ground. The next phase was to prepare the site for the building. The land was leveled and crushed stone was added to the site and pounded flat to make a level site.

Last Tuesday, three Mexicans from Carolina Carports arrived at 6:30 p.m. to install the carport.  It took them about three hours. They spent the second two hours mostly in the dark. They seemed to do a good job.

Next weekend, I have someone coming to add wood sides to the two long sides and the short side that is closed in.  One short side will remain open. There will be a three foot open area between the wood sides and the top of the carport. The roof of the carport extends down three feet on both long sides.

The carport is approximately 20 x 30 ft in size. Another 600 square feet for sheep or whatever else I might want to do with it. Right now, my intentions are to use it to lamb the yearlings and possibly a few 2-year olds that will be bred for April lambs. I don't plan to use it in the winter time. Eventually, I will have water and electricity brought to the building.

I purchased the carport from Alan's Factory Outlet in Virginia. After they got their deposit, most of my dealings were with their builder, Carolina Carports. Carolina Carports didn't demonstrate good customer service, but in the end, things seemed to have worked out okay.

Lambing Update
So far, four of the yearlings have lambed. Two are raising twins. Two are raising singles. One of the ewes that has a single lamb had also given birth to a deformed lamb that I had euthanized. Its left front leg was deformed. It wasn't going to be able to walk. It also had a severe parrot mouth. It's always hard to put a newborn down, especially when they have such a will to live, like this one did.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

First yearling lambs

The first of the eight yearling ewes has lambed. She had a single ewe lamb.  The new building will be installed on Tuesday, April 5. The yearlings will be moved there to lamb and raise their lambs. Today, the site was leveled. On Monday, the gravel will be brought in to prepare the site.

94% Katahdin

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Round 1

Round 1 of lambing is over.  Twenty-eight mature Katahdin ewes gave birth to 64 lambs. There were three single births, fifteen sets of twins, nine sets of triplets, and one set of quads. Only one lamb was born dead. No other death losses. All ewes are raising their own lambs, except for one. One ewe that gave birth to triplets rejected two of her lambs. They are being fed on a bucket.

One of three black lambs

So far, the mature ewes have produced a 225 percent lamb crop. If the final mature ewe doesn't lamb, the lambing percentage will be reduced to 217 percent.  Three births were assisted; all breech births. Thirty lambs are female. Thirty-three are male. Birth weights ranged from 6.9 to 15 lbs. and averaged 10.2 lbs. Some of the lambs were bigger than I would have preferred.

One of my dairy-x ewes with twin lambs

Round 2 will begin after April 1. There are 8 yearlings. They are all bred to the new ram Eddie. They are all bagging up and should lamb by the 21st of April. They are being lambed out in my garage. The new building I planned for them won't be installed for another 6 to 8 weeks.

Two of the quads sleeping

Two yearlings were bred to lamb in May, as I hadn't planned on keeping them. I don't know if the final mature ewe is pregnant. If she lambs, she could lamb as late as May 15.

Monday, March 28, 2016

2016 Lambing Season

I almost hesitate to write this entry about the 2016 lambing season, for fear of jinxing it. So far, lambing has gone very smoothly. I have two orphan lambs and have had to deliver a few breech births, but otherwise, lambing has gone extremely well. I currently have 56 lambs on the ground.

First born lambs

The mature ewes should finish up over the next week. I'm not sure if one ewe is pregnant or having late lambs. The yearlings will lamb after April 1. All eight are bagging up.  Then there are two yearlings that should have May lambs.

My favorite (and one of my best ewes) Miss Piggy had quads:  three ewes and a ram. They were the first lambs out of my new ram Eddie. I purchased Eddie at the 2016 KHSI Expo from Ed Julian (Ohio). I am letting Miss Piggy raise her quads. So far, so good.

Miss Piggy and her four

The orphan lambs were the result of a 4 year old ewe having triplets, but only accepting one lamb. I put her in a head stanchion for a few days, but wasn't making any progress. Last year, she had twins and only accepted one lamb. She has to go. I don't normally have much problems with ewes owning up to their lambs. This ewe is the exception. I hate getting rid of her because she is one of my few 31% Lacaunes.

The orphans are nursing off a bucket. They aren't requiring much work on my part. I put milk in the bucket a couple times and day and clean the bucket and nipples every other day. They are doing quite well. Don't know why I don't do this every year. It's so much easier -- and better -- than bottle feeding lambs. I switched milk replacers, too. I am feeding a milk replacer from Pipestone.

Two orphan lambs

I had fifteen early lambs, complements of two ram lambs that had jumped the gates prior to the planned breeding season. The first lambs were out of an RR registered red ram lamb. He sired two sets of twins and a single lamb. The other nine early lambs were most likely sired by a Triplet registered Katahdin ram lamb that got in with the ewes when I was out of town. He had 24 hours of fun!