weaning

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Meg Z, Jul 10, 2006.

  1. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

    Messages:
    3,471
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Location:
    NC
    This will be the first year I need to wean lambs. When I separate the lambs from their moms, do I need to worry about the ewe's udders? Any risk of mastitis from the sudden stop in nursing? I know most will be low on milk, but I've got one or two heavy milkers out there, so want to know how closely I should moniter them.

    Thanks,
    Meg
     
  2. redroving

    redroving Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    182
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2005
    Location:
    Merced, CA
    If you feed hay don't feed the ewes any alfalfa or rich feeds that will increase milk production. A good quality grass hay will be fine. Do not grain and if you have pastures you can put them in the shorter or drier pasture. They will get large bags but shouldn't be a problem.
     

  3. livestockmom

    livestockmom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    I agree, no grain and cut back on hay for a few days. I watch my moms carefully for mastitis following weaning. I will milk a small amount out to relieve pain and tenderness ( watch for one to limp, every step can touch the side of the bag and cause pain) but not so much that I encourage more milk to come in. We wean at 12 weeks when the moms still have lots of milk so may not be true for moms who have been nursing older kids who are on pasture and creep more.
     
  4. Sprout

    Sprout Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    281
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2005
    Location:
    The Sunny Okie transplant ground of Californie
    I've never had a problem with weaning related mastitis because we wean later when their milk production is already dropping off but that's definatly something to keep an eye out for. Slowly cut back to just the bare nececcities until they are dried up. If your weather permits you can hold thier water for the first 8-12 hours and it will dramatically decrease their production. Watch for red hot udders most will get swollen and silghtly red but if you see a ewe with an altered feel her udder if one or both quarters feels hot or like a rock take her temp. Keep the mommas and babies where they can touch noses for the first week or so. Then take (depending on your herd size) a few ewes out each day until you take the last ewe out. It also helps if you take away their free choice creep and start feeding at intervals and call to them they'll begin to accosiate you with food and I've found it helps them get over their mommas quicker(it's also a real easy way to separate them).

    Good luck with them, also keep an eye on your babies they are rather vulnerable to disease at this stage too.
     
  5. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

    Messages:
    3,471
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Location:
    NC
    Thanks for the suggestions. These are Icelandics, on pasture, just a treat of pellets in the morning right now, and no other supplements. The lambs are early April lambs, so are almost as big as their moms...haven't fit in the creep feeder for some time! I'll cut out the pellets to the ewes, and give a bit more to the lambs for a bit. And keep an eye on the udders. The temps here won't allow cutting the water back, though, but will probably help dry the ewes off!

    Thanks again. You guys always come through.

    Meg
     
  6. eieiomom

    eieiomom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,391
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    No need to cut back water.....
    Low protein hay (if supplementing the pasture) and no grain.
    If lambs aren't nursing and no grain, they will dry up.
    Actually, as long as the babies don't nurse they will dry up, even if they are getting grain, It isn't ideal, but we needed to continue grain with one of our ewes, it just took longer.
    Keep an eye (actually hand) on the udders every once in a while too.
     
  7. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,108
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Location:
    Washington State
    If it were me, I'd do a half day seperation for a week, then go full time. Easier on everyone. Or, milk out your ewes yourself once a day for the next week. Production will drop on it's own when she's not nursing, she won't have to deal with the super full udder or mastitis, and you'll get some milk!
     
  8. livestockmom

    livestockmom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    I agree, most weaning takes place without incident as long as heavy grains are cut back. We never withhold water. We pull the lambs off and put in the farthest pasture from the moms to keep out of eyesight and the lambs are happy again in 72 hours or so. We find that keeping them where they can see each other is frustrating for ewes and lambs..they can see but not reach so the walk the fencelines trying their best to reunite, heartbreaking to watch so we opt for the out of sight out of mind method and I think its quicker and they don't go off feed pineing for each other. Just how we do it here.
     
  9. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,085
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2005
    Location:
    SE Ohio
    We do the same thing, Livestockmom.
    The Bluefaced Liecester ewes go out in the far pasture, the lambs are shut in the barn for a few days. We wean at 90 days, and try to put the ewes out on poor pasture, but that does not always happen. This year all our pastures are lush and full of red clover and actively growing. They fuss off and on for a couple days, and then settle down and are content. I've not had a case of mastitis post weaning.
    The lambs are fed hay the first day, and then started on grain slowly. Ours have free-choice grass hay, and are getting 1.5# of grain per day broken into 2 feedings.

    With the Katahdins, we just leave the lambs with them, and the ewes wean them. The ram lambs are separated when they are 4 mnths old, and the ewe lambs are sorted out when we turn in the ram. Then they are supplimented grain on pasture throughout their first winter to be sure they grow out well.

    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com
     
  10. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

    Messages:
    3,471
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Location:
    NC

    kesoaps, what a wonderful suggestion! I could treat them like the dairy goats, and dry them off like I do the goats. They are all handleable ewes. I wouldn't mind some sheep's milk soap, either!

    Meg