cold weather and newly sheared ewe

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Sarah J, Jan 19, 2004.

  1. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    So I have one ewe left after my other one died from (?) pregtox.

    I had her sheared on Saturday, got her udder area and everything all cleaned up for the lambs when they come. Naturally, that night we had the arctic circle come to pay us a visit and the temps dropped to well below zero. With a naked and very pregnant sheep.

    She is inside a closed shed. We close up the doors at night to keep predators out and to keep the warmth of body in. The wind does not get in there, so the 30 below windchills last night should not have realy been a factor, only the cold itself.

    But is that too cold? I have a wood stove on the other side of that shed that I could stoke up and blow warmer air into that area...but is it necessary? I'm worried that she'll get too cold, even inside, but at the same time don't want to get her so used to the heat that I have to keep the stove going all the time until spring.

    She is eating and drinking fine, no problems. She shivers while she is eating, but seems okay otherwise. I have noticed that she has *not* been going outside in the last couple of days where she *used* to hang out in the pen for half the day.

    Should I be concerned about the temps or will she be okay now that she is without her winter coat?

    -Sarah
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    If she is shivering she is cold, but dealing with it. You could pin an old or cheap blanket over her until she regrows some cover. Some sheep wears coats virtually 365 days/ year to protect the wool. As I recall she was described in good condition on a premium feed. Maybe stop shaking the leaves out so much so she can get a bit more feed value in to produce heat. You're right tending that stove will get old fast. Are you in an area that gets that cold often or for long?
     

  3. Kasidy

    Kasidy Well-Known Member

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    I live up in northern Montana and have the sheep shorn in late January when it is often very cold. I bed them down in deep straw in a draft free barn. If it is below freezing I feed them inside for the first couple of days. If it is above freezing I feed in the regular outside feeders. They seem to do just fine. Never have had anybody get hypothermic or otherwise ill. They seem to go back to their straw beds if they are chilly. If the sun comes out--no matter the air temperature---they would rather lie down on the outside straw and sunbathe than shelter in the barn. Of course my ewes are in very good condition with plenty of flesh to help keep them warm.
     
  4. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Huh - I didn't think about a *coat* - after I just took hers off! :rolleyes:

    Yes, she is much easier to condition now that she doesn't have that wool on and she looks to be in great shape! I can stop shaking leaves out...the goats won't argue, either! :)

    We are in Northwest Iowa - once the temps drop to zero-ish, it tends to stay that way for a couple of weeks. It will certainly be below freezing until March, at teh earliest, I'm sure, though the super-cold generally only last a few days. It's snowing today.

    If she's still shivering this morning when I go out, I'll try the blanket trick and see what she thinks. Otherwise I'll just remember she's not human! ;)

    Thanks!

    Sarah
     
  5. FairviewFarm

    FairviewFarm Well-Known Member

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    Hi Sarah,

    We have our central Wisconsin flock shorn in late December, usually between Christmas and New Year's Day. More often than not, that first week in January has been sub-zero temperatures. Like Kasidy's flock, our's have access to the barn and deep bedding. I've read or heard that for the first 2 weeks post-shearing to up their feed quantity about 10%. Then return to normal volume as by then their systems have adjusted to their woollessness. We have done this with no losses to hypothermia or other illness.

    If this is your first time shearing pregnant ewes during the last trimester in cold weather I will forwarn you that you may see wool loss on the ewe as the fetus will take priority over growing new wool. Over the past 20 years, it seems no matter how well I feed during these last 4-6 weeks (our flock lambs in February) most of the ewes lose small patches of wool as they rub on feeders and pens. That is one of the advantages to shearing close to lambing as that thin spot and/or break in the wool will be close to the tip rather than somewhere in the middle of the staple length.

    Hope your ewe is adjusting quickly.

    Karen
     
  6. John Hill

    John Hill Grand Master

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    I think she will be able to tolerate a lot of cold provided she has plenty of feed, sheep run on internal-combustion!

    We shear prior to lambing in NZ partly so that the ewes will feel the cold and seek shelter otherwise the stupid ones will stand out in the chill with their nice warm fleeces wondering why their lambs are dieing!
     
  7. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    I think she's fine. The shivering stopped almost immediately. The lambs were born the tuesday morning afte I sheared her (a Saturday) and I was there to watch and help dry them both off. Everyone seems fine. The temps are in the lowest expected this year - lows in the negative teens and the high today is supposed to be 5 below. Yet she hasn't been shivering all week and neither have her lambs. They are inside and have lots of nice thick bedding to lay in, and two goats to "cuddle" with.

    Heck - even my two week old calves are handling the cold pretty well!

    Thanks for all your help and support guys!

    Sarah
     
  8. LeahN

    LeahN Well-Known Member

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    Just take the shorn fleece and glue it back to the ewe! just kidding. I sheared 2 of my ewes the other day (hey, two is a start...they were the first sheep I've sheared myself and shearing obviously to me now, uses muscles I don't use on a regular basis!) and I was pretty skeptical about shearing in the cold weather. I could have just taken off the wool tags and the wool on her back end and udders, but I figured I may as well to the whole job since I've heard it prevents ewes from laying on their lambs. They shivered for the first day or so, but continued to eat, drink, and care for their lambs. 2-3 days later, they didn't seem to notice their wool is gone, even though we've had severe cold weather. They are in the barn, since they have newborn lambs (well, the ewe who's lamb died doesn't anymore, but I milked out her colostrum to freeze, and it was handier to have her in the jug and I can also keep an eye on her for a couple days after losing her lamb). Maybe when my muscles aren't rubber anymore from shearing the other 2 (and from falling on the ice 3 times today!) I'll do a few more that are in the barn. I'm sure it'll start taking me less time to do each sheep as I get better at it!
    Leah