We have had a hard time this year deciding when our lambing season was going to start. We have had an occasional lamb here and there. We are not sure if it is due to the fact that our ram had his very first season with ewes or if he was so fat to start with that he needed to lose some weight to be effective. We just know that the trickle of an occasional lamb is annoying. We opted to start counting our lambing season from November 1, 2019 for this reason. There is usually one day that defines the start of our our lambing season. We like to officially call this Lambaggedon, yesterday was the start of ours.
We had been having a steady stream of babies every 1-3 days for about 2 weeks. This led to us having 6 pens all over the barn as of yesterday. We were running out of panels and had ordered two more from Premier. They make an aluminum gate/panel that is modular. It is such an improvement over the old metal galvanized panels that used to be the only option. Now you can add sections together and make a 4’, 6’ or 8’ gate/panel. We had ordered two 6’ sections and a creep gate so we can start giving the babies an all you can eat buffet. The joy of the modular sections is they can be shipped UPS ground! The old heavy ones had to come via freight truck. I tried to put the gates together and discovered there is a left and a right and I was sent two lefts! I called the next morning and got a replacement sent and another right so we would have three panels not two. I also asked about our creep gate that had not arrived. Turns out someone left the creep gate on their truck and they brought it the next day. I had a ordered an ear notcher and a new ear tag applicator. We keep getting different brands of tags and I have three different applicators now. The new one is a universal applicator.
So Friday morning I took the one 6’ gate outside and finished assembling it. I needed a rubber hammer to nudge it into place. When I went out to the barn there were babies everywhere! I had a set of triplets by the door, one was stillborn and the other was flat like a pancake to the floor and could not stand, all four legs out away from its body. I got that ewe and her two babies in a small pen. I had three other babies and only one mother was claiming one baby. I got everyone out but two ewes and then went and got a bottle. I bottle fed three of the babies and they all drank even though two of them kept laying in weird positions.
I then worked on tagging and banding the lambs in the momma area (five of them), the triplets under the stairs and the single baby with the hairless mom. This lamb had a tag but the old applicator cracked the female portion of the ear tag which is why I got a replacement. Learning to use the new tag applicator took a few tries and I had to finally use a practice tag to figure out what I was doing wrong. It makes a clicking noise when you get it together right and the others do not.
The triplets are all girls and we will be keeping every one of them to use as replacement ewes. Once I figured out who belonged to who and tag and banded them I had to bottle feed the babies again. Sarah came out and bottle fed the lambs again while I fed the main herd and we let the tag and banded sheep back out into the main herd. We put the two new mommas into the momma area. The little splayed triplet would not take a bottle the last time and its belly was full, the only problem is that set of triplets is tiny! We then rearranged all the gates and panels, buckets, bungees and bucket straps. I spent over six hours out in the barn getting it all put back together then went inside, showered and went to work, two hours later I was back home as Sarah had to bring in those three babies. We had one die in the house and got the other two bummered off.
We went out this morning to check on the babies and found only one lamb with a first time ewe, nice big lamb. We got the pair under the stairs, moved the twins and ewe at the far end of the barn into the momma area and are now down to two areas for babies. We are discussing how to divide the herd into the haves and have nots (babies) and divide the barn also so we can track the babies being born better. We will probably do this on Sunday.
I have sat down with our new Airtable spreadsheet that Annmarie made and added up all of our lambs. I will update it as we go. It’s kind of depressing currently, we are looking at nutritional causes and the age of our herd. We have a lot of older ewes and are going to swap them out this spring.
- Total lambs born (dead or alive): 27
- # of singles: 4
- # of twins: 7
- # of triplets: 3
- Stillborn lambs: 1
- # died without a tag: 4
- # bummered: 3
- # ewes delivered: 14
- # lambs alive on property: 19
- Birth rate (alive & dead included): 193% (goal>150%)
- Ewe productivity after 1 week (live lambs on farm): 127% (goal >125%)
- Lamb success (live lambs on farm after 1 week): 70% (max 100%)