Sheep Opinion: Pulling the wool over the ewe's eyes


Eamon is busy on his second batch of lambing and he's using every trick in the book to get spare lambs paired off with foster ewes.

Sheep Opinion: Pulling the wool over the ewe's eyes

  • ADDED
  • 4 years ago

Eamon is busy on his second batch of lambing and he's using every trick in the book to get spare lambs paired off with foster ewes.

The second batch of ewes lambing on the farm are now drawing near to a close. There is only a few left to lamb in this batch and should be all but finished in the next day or two and I’ll be glad to see it. I lamb most of the ewes in two main batches two weeks apart and by in large everything will be lambed now with the exception of a few stragglers and a few farm favourites and rare breeds that will lamb later.

Overall I am happy with how things have went. There has been a good crop of good quality lambs born onto the farm with good survival rates however I have had my fair share of problems that all sheep farmers experience.

I try and send most ewes to the field with ideally two lambs or a single. I don’t like to send triplets to the field as I am trying to get lambs to the factory as soon as possible so the lambs need every opportunity to get as much milk from the ewe as possible to thrive and I feel that it is hard for them to get enough milk from the ewe if there are 3 lambs sucking on her. It works for some people but I feel for my system two lambs per ewe is plenty. So, for that reason I do a fair bit of swapping around at lambing time. I try to take the strong lamb off any ewes lambing with triplets and swap them on to the next single that lambs. It’s a tricky enough task when you’re on your own as its important to not let the ewe see what you are doing as the sheep aren’t as stupid as they look.

Basically, when I know a ewe is having a single lamb I take the triplet with me and try to lamb the ewe into a bucket or onto the top of the triplet lamb. It is important to try and get as much of the fluid that comes out of the ewe onto the triplet lamb as possible to make the two lambs smell the exact same so the ewe thinks she has had two lambs. It becomes fairly obvious within a short space of time whether you’ve pulled the wool over the ewe’s eyes or she has caught on to the trickery. As I said before sheep aren’t as stupid as they look and it doesn’t always work but it’s great when it does to get a ewe to rear a spare lamb.

The first ewe I lambed in this batch was only milking on one side which would have been ok if she had a single lamb but of course as you would expect she had two so I had to take a lamb off her. Other problems that occurred through the course of the lambing where I had a case of an overzealous mother that when licking her lambs clean pulled the umbilical cord of the lamb and ruptured its stomach. Unfortunate but these things happen and you can’t watch every single ewe lamb and keep an eye on them all. I had a lamb or two that was backwards in the ewe. Normally it doesn’t really cause a problem if you can get the lamb out fast enough but I had one hogget that was especially tight and couldn’t get the lamb out fast enough. The lamb was born living but had too much fluid in its lungs and despite all my techniques I couldn’t get it out and it subsequently died.

There were a few other little problems here and there but by in large lambing went very well and the biggest majority of the lambs were kept living. The lambs that were born in the first batch are all out in the fields now and doing really well. The weather hasn’t been too bad for them and the lambs are skipping around the field every morning when I go to check them. I’m still feeding the ewes in troughs in the fields to try and keep as much milk as possible to them for the lambs. The lambs are starting to become interested in the feed when their mothers are eating which is a good sign so I will start to introduce a creep feeder to them now as soon as possible to get them eating well and then I can stop feeding the ewes.

Grass growth with the bit of milder weather has been good so now that I had the ewes lambed they have every opportunity to thrive and obtain good growth rates. I am looking forward to not having to get up in the middle of the night for a change and get some rest. It seems that the hard work has now been down but the real tricky part will be seeing what price spring lambs will be come easter.

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