When to cull...

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by arley, Mar 28, 2004.

  1. arley

    arley Member

    Apr 26, 2003
    An older ewe (7 yo) just had twins the other day, but not without incident. The first one was breech, and the cervix wasn't dialated, so we ended up calling the vet. She is doing OK at this point, but we started thinking about when to cull older and problem ewes. I have a hard time thinking about culling this one, as she was the bottle fed lamb when she was born, and is the tamest of the flock. Nonetheless, it is something that we don't know a whole lot about.
  2. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 7, 2002
    There are alot of things to consider when deciding whether to keep or cull. In a production flock you might cull earlier and more ruthlessly than in a homestead flock. A ewe might ony have singles but still her fleece is a color you like....or you may have raised them on a bottle and enjoy having tamer sheep. Commercial sheep people must earn x amt. dollars for each ewe to make a profit and a ewe that can't consistently deliver and raise twins isn't going to be profitable...there just isn't that big a margin between making money or not. Take into consideration why you have sheep,what their purpose is on your farm and in your future plans and then decide how rigorously you should cull. We only kept ewes that consistently produced and raised twins. They had to do it without assist in birthing,minimal extra feed. They had to be extra good mothers and be amiable to handling. We had one good producing ewe but she would be the first to veer off and take the flock with her when herding them up to the barn...she was mighty good tasting kielbasa! Caused us extra work and aggravation. When we finally sold our sheep we had a flock that needed minimal assist to raise quality lambs and we had several neighbors vying to buy them as they knew they were healthy good mothers and their daughters had proven to be the same. DEE

  3. LeahN

    LeahN Well-Known Member

    Oct 17, 2003
    When I saw your subject, it made me realize that if I'm asking myself whether to cull a sheep for a particular reason, ideally I probably should. There are 2-3 sheep in my flock though, that will live out their lives on our farm, most likely, just because they are more like pets (and somehow it seems they are coincidently our least productive ewes!!!).
    I plan on culling if a sheep makes a habit of having lambing problems. One time may be a fluke, but if it happens twice, I'll think strongly about culling. For example, I'm hoping a retained placenta won't be a problem ever again with one of my ewes who didn't clean by herself this year.
    I wouldn't personally put a cap on their age, and instead I rely on my production records. By not having a stated age where I cull, I will keep older productive ewes in my flock so that I'm keeping track of which ewes produce late in life and which don't...something that may eventually be one of the questions to ask when deciding which ewe lambs to keep as replacements. Of course, I guess the negative side to this is that by letting them become non-productive before culling, I lose a little in keeping unproductive old ewes when other people would have already culled them if they automatically culled at a certain age despite production records.
    I'm curious now. Do other people cull at a certain age, or do you only cull when an older sheep becomes unproductive, regardless of her age?
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 9, 2002
    I'm not the best at culling but I work from the point of veiw a good ewe is worth the effort to keep. If shes healthy and productive who cares how old she is! Good means productive but you can check things like her udder condition, and teeth to make sure you're not keeping her longer than shes worth with a new problem. Culling does make the flock, easier lambing and more lambs loaded on the truck. I'm going to have to cull hard this year, not many pets to consider, just the 5 black sheep and "Babe" the cisarian survivor my neice raised. Not bad outa 200 ewes.