Weaning time has arrive, actually I am a week late in weaning the lambs. Sheep for the most part are quiet animals, until weaning time. I will have two to three days and nights of constant baaing.
I schedule weaning when the lambs are eight weeks old. This year due to a serious cold front of freezing rain and snow, I postponed so as not to have too much stress on the lambs and ewes.
Today, my dog and I sorted off the lambs from the ewes. My biggest helper is my dog, Hank. Hank is a registered border collie with cattle dog bloodlines and parents, but he is an excellent sheep dog. Hank has worked cattle some and he is great working cattle. His favorite animal to herd is ducks, I do not know why.
People ask me how long does it take to train a dog to work sheep. The initial training is about six months to teach a dog the commands. Two years of working livestock for the dog to gain experience and understanding of the task to work as a partner. I enjoy working with Hank, as I do not have to give constant commands while sorting and moving sheep.
Where I live in Texas, most sheep farmers and cattle ranchers do not use dogs at all to work the livestock. The pastures are not very big, and the livestock has been taught to come to a bucket or truck horn. I love working with my dog.
Three weeks before the scheduled lambing, I put the ewes on hay only. The hay only diet helps the ewes to dry up as they will not be producing the milk the lambs desire, also starting the weaning process. After the lambs are sorted off, I will keep the ewes on hay until their utters are empty. Putting the ewes on hay before the weaning, I have fewer problems with mastitis and most often none.
The lambs were started on creep feed at two weeks of age, and will continue to get creep feed for two months after weaning, then the ration will change depending on if I have green forage or feeding hay. The lambs I will sell for market lambs, will be sold two weeks after weaning. I only keep replacement ewes and Full Blood Dorpers for breeding stock that will continue to be fed.
For now, I will wear the earplugs to bed for a couple of nights then all will be calm once more.