Culling Producing Sheep

To make a profit as a sheep farmer, and the goal is to make a profit, the sheep farmer needs to keep the expenses low and the income high. In a previous post I wrote on why I cull ewes for not producing lambs.

I cull old ewes, ones that are still producing but have age on them and are losing teeth. Sheep without teeth a ewe has a very hard time getting enough feed from pasture to support her body and the growth of a lamb.

I am keeping an old ewe, a registered fullblood Dorper due to the qualities she adds to my flock. This ewe I call Big Bertha. She has really nice conformation according to Dorper breed standards. Her bloodlines are from Australia, Dell Dorpers. Since most of the Dorper sheep in our area come from a few sheep farms, and they are good sheep farms, the bloodlines get to be too close for my liking. Her bloodlines add outside blood to my flock. She produces twins and triplets.

A reason to cull producing ewes is medical expenses. I had ewes that produced lambs but were always needing to be treated for worms. I regularly deworm my ewes a few weeks before lambing. These few ewes would become wormy during pregnancy and after lambing. They would have present with bottle jaw and have low FAMCHA scores. They had no resistance to internal parasites. I did not want low internal parasite genetics in my flock. They were culled.

I used to own a ewe who always seemed to have something that needed medical treatment. I treated her for pneumonia, cattle fly bots (the only one in the flock to get them), internal parasites constantly and other things. The constant handling to treat her for the various illness and things, she became very tame. The vet knew her quite well. I gained information on various not so common illnesses in sheep. She raised several lambs, as I would breed her while waiting for the cattle fly bots to go away for example. Since the auction was only twice a month, I would have her ready, then a day or two before the sale, she would have something else. She definitely had a bad immune system. I was thrilled when she was well for an auction day, and gone.

Another medical reason for culling a producing ewe is mastitis. Mastitis can occur in any ewe. But when there is damage done to the udder that hinders milk production I sell the ewe. Good lamb growth is necessary for profit. If the lamb or lambs are not growing as fast as their peers, I need to sell the ewe. I do not know if there is a genetic factor in ewes getting mastitis, but I have had some ewes who would get mastitis every lambing, and their daughters would also. I culled both mother and daughters.

A sheep farmer is always working at improving the flock. I do cull ewes to improve my flock’s genetics. I have pasture and space for a set number of sheep. When I reach that number, and I have young replacement ewes, I cull based on Dorper breed standards. I cull the ewes that are not a close to the breed standards as the other ewes. I am working at improving the quality of my sheep with the goal of producing “perfect” fullblood Dorper sheep. There really is not a “perfect” sheep, but the goal is set to produce the “perfect Dorper”.

Happy Sheep Farming


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