It is the end of February and March is almost here, so is Spring Lambing 2022. I do not lamb out in February, the icy cold frozen rain and fluctuating temperatures are hard on lambs. I aim for a mid March lambing, and the first time ewe are gearing up. That means I need to be prepared as well.
I checked the first time ewe pen yesterday, they are starting to get their first udders. I have nine ewes, and seven have the beginning of milk.
This is the first lamb crop from the ram, Max. Seeing the ewes getting ready at the same time, means Max did a good job. I do not have my rams semen tested as there is not a veterinarian closer than three hours that will perform the test for me. The expense of semen testing my rams is more than what I paid for Max. So, my checking on if the ram is able to perform, is the number of ewes pregnant and how close they lamb.
I spent yesterday getting the lambing kit ready. I always tag my lambs when they are born to keep track of which lamb is with which ewe. I realized all the lambs being born in this group will be registered, all will receive a green tag. But, I like to know who are rams and who are ewes. I have adjusted my tagging. I will put the yellow scrabies tag in the rams as well as a green tag used for registration. The plans for the ewe lambs is to retain for the growth of my flock. The ram lambs will be sold for breeding, unless I demean them unworthy of the honor. I do cull lambs I do not think meet the qualifications to be honored as breeding stock.
To improve or maintain a breed, sheep farmers should cull those not worthy of being breeding stock. Yes, I get more for a breeding ram than I do for a market lamb. I am very choosy on which lamb gets the privilege of being selected for breeding stock. This way I maintain a reputation as a good breeder and supplier of breeding stock.
I have a list of names and numbers of people who want to purchase a ram or ewes for breeding purposes from me. The owner of the sheep auction wants to know when I will bring in breeding rams, as there is a big demand for good quality breeding rams. The meat processers ask when am I going to have some meat lambs for sale, as mine are prime choice. Everyone wants lambs, and I do not raise enough for the demand.
How does a sheep farmer get to the place everyone wants your sheep? Culling. Culling those sheep who do not produce good growth and an excellent carcass.
When I look at the lambs and my sheep, I am looking at a carcass. I am looking at the leg of lamb or shoulder roast. Dorper sheep and hair sheep are raised to produce a meal on the table, the carcass.
I look at breed standards, which are defined by the carcass on Dorpers. When I select rams and ewes, I check for easy lambing, meaning a wide pelvis opening.
Be selective of your breeding stock, breed the best you have to the best you have and improve. Build a reputation of producing good breeding stock and carcasses, and you will have more demand than supply.
Enjoy being a sheep farmer.