What's your lambing season routine?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by FairviewFarm, Feb 22, 2005.

  1. FairviewFarm

    FairviewFarm Well-Known Member

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    Just curious how everyone else handles their time in the sheep shed. I start about 5:00 am with chores and a check for those in labor. If a ewe is in labor I'll check back every hour or so. If none are in labor I go back out about 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Afternoon chores are started by 4:30 pm. Again if one is in labor I check back often otherwise I do a final check about 10-10:30 pm. When the flock seems to hit the peak of the bell curve and there seems to be a ewe lambing whenever I'm in the barn, I'll go out between 1:30-2:00 am.
     
  2. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

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    I get up to the flock about 6 A.M., dip & tag anything new, jug them if they look like they need extra time to themselves (ex., some 1st time lambers, triplets). I leave for work at 7A.M. I get home from work around 4-5 P.M., drive past the pasture on the way home, if I can see all of them, I don't go up until 6, otherwise I go right up & check on them. I spend about an hour in the morning, & an hour at night fiddling around near the sheep, working with the poultry flock, the orchard, or gardens.
     

  3. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I'm very lucky to have real help at lambing time. My brother who lives next to me checks them at 1am before he goes to bed. If there's a problem he wakes me and i help him deal with it. Hopefully I'm back in bed by 2am. 4:30 I'm up for a check (4am was just too brutal some days) the sheep must like me because they only have lambs half the time that early in the morning. If its a blowing, snowy, freezing or rainy evening, there's lambs and as its clear the other half of the time they don't lamb then. Unless I rely on that observation then there's a half dozen newbies with questionable parentage. Some with doting aunties and grannies some left as sacrifices to the alfalfa gods. Back to bed for an hour or two then another check at 6:30. Bottles and buckets for the bummer lambs is the first job first. Feeding hay to the stockers and ewe lambs is a morning job, and the mums to be. Check on the water situation. Spend an hour beating ice out of pails and troughs, (I realy need heated automatic bowels for the record, but the experience has left me ready to fend off the coming ice ages) Where am I up to? Oh yeah breakfast. I'm on a diet so after my rice crispie I get to rest a little doing our kennel chores. (on school days I've put the kids on the bus unless my wife is home and she has) The day is spent as a gofer restocking whatever we're run out of or fixing whatever has broken. (peppered with breaks so I can check here) very few lambs are born during the day I think its almost accidental to be honest. The mums are almost always co-operative as if to say they've failed and there's no point trying to challenge me with a struggle or need of a vet. Afternoon chores usually start about 15 minutes after dark year round. I do mean to correct that. Grain for all and hay for penned ewes more water and then its usually time for lambs to fall ill or starve so I can have supper interupted and a late night tending to them. Bed is around 11 or 12 so i do get that blissful hour until my brother wakes me up agian.
     
  4. FairviewFarm

    FairviewFarm Well-Known Member

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    Shahbazin - I envy the ease of your lambing season routine. I wish I could consider it but by late April or May here in Wisconsin I'm busy with planting field and garden crops.

    Ross - Been there, done that with a middle of the night flock check where I've found 3 new moms trying to keep up with 9 lambs that they assume all to be their own not to mention the adopting going on by grannies and aunts who must be in early labor themselves. As a purebred breeder it would be nice to get the right lambs with the right mama but in a situation like that I'm happy if the ewes are happy with the 3 lambs I left with them each. Then as you say, the lambs have a knack for picking a rather inconvenient time for coming down with something such hypothermia (both my cases this year were discovered at 2 am) or a fractured leg at 4:00 pm on Super Bowl Sunday when it's darn hard and more expensive to get a veterinarian.

    It's a known fact low pressure weather systems increases the chance that near term ewes (and humans too) will go into labor which explains why you have more born during blowing, snowy, freezy or rainy weather, evening or otherwise.

    If more of your lambs are born over night have you given thought to the studies that indicate there is a relationship between when ewes are fed and when they lamb. Research indicates that those ewes receiving the major portion of their ration in the morning will lamb during the day as opposed to those getting most of their calories during a late afternoon feeding. From personal experience I'd have to agree with the premise as our flock gets the heavier feeding during afternoon chores and most of my ewes lambed between midnight and 5:00 am. Later this year, when my flock is again in late gestation and I'm back to feeding grain I'm going to feed it in the morning to see if it affects time of lambing in my flock.

    I did forget to mention in my original post that mid morning is when I take care of such things as ear tagging, weighing, docking the lambs and deworming and hoof trimming the ewes while still in the mothering pens. So much easier on the back to do just a few 200 pound Hamps a day than try to do all 45 at once.
     
  5. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Yeah I've tried the morning feeding thing, it works as often as not here. It wouldn't change my sleep patterns anyhow, I'd still get up at some prelight/nonhuman hour to check them. I relish the added stress, which is almost a food group in some cultures! Emigrated Irish not being one of them but I digress!
     
  6. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I was getting up early (you know, like a real farmer) to feed and water my three little black sheep, and quite proud of myself. Then I read a study that said if sheep aren't fed grain until 10:00 a.m. they will not lamb at night. Probably the same study Fairview read. On the days I work, they get taken care of after 7:30, but on the other days I leave it until 10:00 unless I have to leave the house earlier. I'm pretty sure none of the lambs have been born before about 9:00 a.m. Right now the lambs are dropping so I look out the window (we're on the second floor) to check on them when I get up. If they are acting normal, and I'm not going into work, I make them wait until ten before I go out there. I do have one ewe, that if I decide to keep her, will be getting extra attention next year.