Your weaning routine?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Cat, Mar 13, 2005.

  1. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

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    After listening to bawling ewes and lambs today I wondered what others do when weaning lambs. Do you separate them only or do you make sure that they're out of earshot/sight? How do you handle the ewes? Do you withhold water? I think it's very interesting. Everything I do I of course learned either from my parents or from the family friend who runs sheep, I can't imagine how many different ways of doing these things there might be! Anyone care to chime in and share?
     
  2. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Please never with hold water.

    For weaning, the Ewes would be moved out of the lambing pasture. I left the ewe lambs and wethers in the pasture they were born in. They tend to do less crying that way.
    The Ram lambs went into the ram pasture. However you might not be able to do with some breeds.

    To help dry up the ewes, if they are in good body condition.. I stop giving them any grain, and any rich feed to help them stop milk production.
    They were all feed Alfalfa, they would now go to half alfalfa/timothy hay.
    Always supply fresh clean water.

    Sad to say,,,There is no way to get around the caterwauling they will do at weaning time. Unless you are lucky enough to have larges tracks of land.
     

  3. kabri

    kabri Almst livin the good life

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    We don't wean at our place. Our ewes get fat on just pasture when it's plentiful, and nursing the babies longer helps keep their weight down. If I had a ewe having a difficult time feeding, then I would wean by removing the lambs from the property.... we have several farms/friends we can send lambs to for weaning. Out of ear-shot is the best/quickest/quietest way! You are going to get hollering whatever way you do it. :waa:
     
  4. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

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    :no: I didn't intend to imply that I withheld water, just that some do. I'm also not complaining about the bawling, I just had to listen to it all day while out doing chores. I think it's adorable to see a lamb or calf for that matter that's darn near as large as mom crying like a baby because he wants milk! :haha:

    Kabri you're fortunate to have good pasture - or decent moisture! While our pasture is nice when we have enough moisture it dries up right quick around here due to lack of rain and the 5 year drought we've had but are hopefully now breaking. Right now we have a decent growth so they've been out on pasture for a few weeks with supplemental feed. Hopefully we'll get adequate rain this spring. :worship:

    I would still wean regardless, though.
     
  5. Slev

    Slev Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Last year we didn't split them up, as we had that special case going on with that ewe, Big Momma that was attacked. If the only thing that kept her alive was her mothering instinct, and need to care for her lamb, ..... we just left it in there with her....

    ****But, I would make sure the lambs are already using used to the creep feeder and/or location. AND, PULL THE LAMBS EARLY IN THE MORNING..! that will give them all day complain about it, and by nightfall they may shut up. You know, when the coyotes come out to hear the dinner bells.

    I know one friend who waited until nightfall to take the lambs away from their mothers, thinking they would give up and call it a night after an hour or so. Well it called in the local coyotes...!

    I think it is best for the ewe to pull the lamb, but we wait longer than the minium weight or time frame.
     
  6. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    How many have you got, Catherine?

    Last year, with just a few ewes, I found it quite easy to wean gradually. I began at 7 weeks with seperating the ewe from her lamb(s) overnight. They were still on the same property, still near enough to see/hear each other, and in some cases to sniff noses through fences.

    This made it easy on the ewe because it wasn't a sudden stop to the milking, and easy on the baby because it really was old enough not to be hungry through the night. Everyone was happy, and it really only took a few extra minutes in the morning and evening. No bawling or broken hearts...

    Of course, I can see how if you had a couple dozen sheep it would be a bit troublesome for some folks...but there are several sheep dairies who do the half day weaning thing with lambs as well so they can start milking the ewe before the lamb is completely weaned.
     
  7. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

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    I let the lambs back with Mom yesterday for a short bit so they could pull a bit of milk from Mom to ease any udder discomfort and wouldn't you know it the wildest ewe wouldn't let either of her 2 lambs suck! lol I finally had to tackle her and milk her out a bit, she seemed to be dropping off on production pretty good so I'm not too concerned with the ewes being uncomfortable at this point. The lambs are all monsters already, I leave them on mom for 3 months +/- so they're well established and quite capable of fending for themselves. Mom doesn't tend to wean lambs on their own, I had to combine the two pens several years ago for one reason or another and this after several weeks separation and the lambs started nursing again and the ewes let down milk again. Here it seems to be the case that it doesn't matter time of day you separate them because they'll bawl for 2 days regardless and yep, all night long too! lol Thankfully I moved back into my 'summer' bedroom where I can't hear them as well as I would have in the other room.

    Right now I have 4 ewes that I'm weaning and I'll have another 3 or so lamb this spring. I have 10 ewes but not all will lamb, and this past year I didn't separate the ram because my sheep in the past haven't been fall/winter lambers having only 1 do so in the 10 years or so I've had these. That'll teach me to expect routine! I'm going to be keeping back all of the 4 ewe lambs from last fall, as well as any that I get on the ground this spring. Expecting lambs at the end of this month.
     
  8. CCSheep

    CCSheep Member

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    Last year we did an experiment and weaned all of the locker lambs, put them on a separate pasture, and left the lambs we kept for replacement ewes/rams with their mothers into fall. Saw no difference in the ewes' body conditions (they are on pasture after lambing in spring) and they weaned the lambs themselves in their own time, just like in the wild. Did see that the lambs with their mothers were heavier and really well bonded to the flock. The lambs are much more aware, more wary and flock better than the locker lambs. Guess it doesn't matter if the locker lambs flock well or not, since they're headed to the freezer, but this year I'm going to keep the commercial lambs and locker lambs in with the ewes as well as another experiment. It seems a happier lamb makes a healthier, grass-hungry lamb which will fare better in the flock and hopefully this will be reflected in the meat quality and flavor. If I have to, I will do some intense pasture grazing and rotate more than normal with our impending drought. I'm always tweaking management of our sheep, and I think it's good to find what works best with your situation and environmental limitations.
    Jami B.
    Ellensburg, WA
     
  9. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

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    We leave the lambs with mom until they are 10 weeks old. If the lamb is going to be sold, it goes to its new home. Otherwise, we just leave them in with mom until we seperate the ram lambs into the ram pasture the end of August (to prevent breeding accidents). Unsold ewes can stay in the ewe pasture. The mom's wean them themselves.