The Lull before the Storm

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on

The busiest time for sheep is laming. A sheep farmer may raise other types of animals or feed for his livestock, so there are busy times. I do not raise anything but sheep and laming is my busiest time.

Today was cold, really cold. Well, not Wyoming cold or Alaska cold, but for my aging bones, 34* F is cold. I did my chores, then I did sheep records. This was a good day to do sheep records as I will be very busy in a few weeks. Laming is the busiest time when sheep raising, but there are things I do to prep for laming, but today was too cold for me to work outside.

What type of records does a sheep farmer need to keep? Well there are the standard items such as feed and veterinary expenses. Then there is keeping records on the sheep. Depending on why the sheep farmer is raising the sheep will determine what the sheep farmer wants to know about the sheep.

I raise sheep for meat and breeding stock for myself and others. I want to record and track the weight of each lamb at birth and weaning, to record how fast the lamb grows. The information also tells me if the feed I am buying is providing what my lambs need to grow or if I should change. I did change my feed in the fall of 2020 and again in the spring of 2021. This last batch of lambs will tell me if I made an improvement in my program or not with the feed change. Steady, fast weight gain from birth to weaning is important for me.

Everyday I look at my lambs. I know by looking at the ear tag color which lambs are rams and which are ewes and which ones are eligible for registration. Since I am keeping all my ewe lambs at this time, I tag them with the same color as the registration eligible lambs. There are a lot of different color ear tags as well as different shape. When I am sorting through a sorting gate, it is easier and faster for me to look at the color of an ear tag, and change the gate.

I track how the lambs of each ewe grow and put the information in my ewe records. Today was also a good time to go through and look at the ages of my ewes. Old or aged ewes, I consider ewe over 8 years to be old or aged, do not chew their food or get as much out of their food as they did when they were younger, and leads to less milk production and lower growth rate on the lambs.

Currently I have two breeding groups of ewes. I basically have my first flock of ewes, but I had kept back enough ewe lambs and formed a group. I bred the young ewe lambs I had retained when they were old enough and formed a second breeding group. I also wrote their numbers down. When I wean the lambs, I will need to separate these ewes with them as the feed ration will remain the same.

Photo by Bich Tran on

I went over my calendar today and made sure what dates I needed to vaccinate the ewes laming the beginning of March. I also double checked the weaning date for the lambs born in November/December. Some of the lambs are getting large. There are two or three lambs grown to the size they can not fit in the creep feeder. In a three weeks I will be weaning lambs, vaccinating the replacement ewes prepping them for laming. All the sheep need their hooves trimmed and checked for internal parasites.

Today, I did record keeping and registration forms.

There is always something to do as a sheep farmer when the weather prevents you from working much outside. If there is nothing do to, back brownies, I did that today also.



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