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Discussion in 'Sheep' started by scottdoyle, Nov 29, 2004.
Simple question to any of you sheep owners but I was wondering at what age you should breed a sheep?
Most references indicate at least 75% of adult body weight or at least a year old. My preference is for a least one year old and preferably a chance to watch older ewes give birth and mother their lambs. I think this makes for better mothering sheep.
Young ewes are slightly prone to milk fever as well, so give them the extra growing time. A year if they're going to be good enough to breed, is fine, mine are almost always 18 months+ just because I only lamb once a year.
Because I raised miniature sheep, I waited until they were a full 2 years old.
I live in a country that has 4 million people and 44 million sheep While some farmers will mate what are effectively still lambs, most wait another year. There are several reasons for this. When mating young, the ewe is still growing herself and is then being asked to grow a lamb as well. Hoggets make very good mothers but are more likely to have singles rather than twins. They are also more likely to have lambing difficulties. Better to wait until the animal is more mature.
Over here we lamb between June and October, depending on whereabout in the country we live. I prefer later lambing so don't start until late August. Replacement ewe lambs born this year won't go into the breeding flock until April 2006.
I too wait until the ewe is at the minimum 1 year - most often a bit older than that. I have relied on rams younger than that though, and the lambs I have on the ground now are from a Nov. 03 ram lamb that I never bothered to separate from the ewes. (Other than to wean.) I have at least one other ewe that will lamb within the week most likely ~ or the next time it snows!