Monday, February 27, 2017

Shepherdess Notes: FACTS about Sheep Shearing





Our 2017 sheep shearing day is scheduled! 2016 was a great year, and the mill has been empty. We will have over 50 fleeces this year, and I am excited that we will be knee deep in wool once again.



(repost from 2014)

Sometimes I am surprised by some of the "rumors' that fly around about farming.

One example of that is about sheep shearing. I have read articles that talk about the horrors of shearing sheep.  Last I checked, all of my sheep survive the shearing experience. Actually they handle it better than my toddlers did during their first hair cut!

I have heard that sheep are abused while being shorn,  even experiencing bodily injury. An experienced shearer knows how to handle a sheep,  and most of the time the sheep handle it pretty well. The lambs and yearling ewes are a little more high strung about it, but the shearer does not harm them.  Occasionally a ewe will get a nick from the clippers, but an experienced shearer usually doesn't leave a scratch!
A good reason to hire an experienced sheep shearer. They do make the experience easier on everyone!
( I think I  have received more injuries during shearing days, than the sheep :) )

I have heard about the unnecessary stress that sheep are put through by shearing because  a sheep will only grow the amount of wool it needs. False!  I keep sheep, we have missed shearing times, the wool gets VERY long, matted, dirty, and collects manure tags.

I have heard claims that sheep would shed their wool, naturally before summer. If only! I have never had a sheep shed its wool. If they did we wouldn't have to hire a shearer every year.

Our sheep will grow fleeces that weigh between 7-11 pounds annually.  After shearing, our sheep bounce around like lambs. I personally think they appreciate that hair wool cut!

If you visit a farm on shearing day, you will see the sheep are handled with care, and the shearing experience takes but a few minutes.( We have our home school group coming out on shearing day, I assure you, there will be no children watching on in horror as the sheep get their annual clipping.)

Any smart farmer will not want harm to come to his/her animals. Why would they? They are an investment! It only makes sense to take care of that investment. If I had a shearer that abused my animals, or left them injured, I would be looking for a new shearer.

We pay for these sheep, they are not cheap. Most of our  ewes live their lives out here, we take good care of them. In return, they give us beautiful wool fleeces and lambs. Win, Win!

For other post on shearing:

http://www.mittenstatesheepandwool.com/2013/03/spring-shearingdone.html

http://www.mittenstatesheepandwool.com/2013/03/sheep-shearing-scheduled.html


Wear Wool! (sorry, I couldn't resist...)


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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Simple Homestead Blog Hop #92



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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Shepherdess Notes: Docking Tails



We still have just the two lambs. I am not sure what the other three ewes are waiting for, we have had perfect weather for winter lambing. I assume they are waiting for a winter storm to roll around. The two lambs we do have, were moved outside into the barnyard. I think they are enjoying the extra space to bounce around in. 




Before moving them, (when they are easier to catch) we put the band on their tails for docking.




(This is an older post, edited)


Typically, the ewes take very good care of their lambs. We really do not have to do much in  way of animal husbandry.

We do have a few routine management practices that we perform.

Tail Docking being one.

Most lambs are not born with short tails. A lamb's tail can be pretty long, depending on the breed. Some breeds have shorter tails and do not need to be docked. Our lambs have the longer tails.
The tails are docked in the first two weeks.

Why dock tails?

Tails collect manure, which can lead to fly strike (wool maggots, yes, it is gross)
It is an accepted practice and you could have a hard time selling lambs and breeding stock without the tails being docked.

I have went back and forth with it, just like disbudding goats (which we still do) trying to decide if  I wanted to use this management practice.  I talked with a breeder who had the same dilemma, she chose not to dock her Border Leicester's one year.  She started docking again.  It is easier to take care of the animal with the docked tails. Especially, during lambing and shearing time.

There are several methods for docking tails. I chose the most common, Banding ,using a tool called an elastrator.
A rubber ring is placed on the lambs tail. 7-10 days later the tail falls off.
The lamb does experience some pain, but we have observed it is short-lived.
We give the lamb a shot to prevent against tetanus at the time of banding.

Here is a good tutorial showing the procedure:

Docking Tails

There are several other methods, but this is the only one I feel comfortable with at this time.

I have been reading about an Electric tail docker, which cuts and cauterizes. I am considering switching to this method. Until then, we will continue to band.

There are different opinions, on how short the tail should be docked.  Some show lambs have their tail almost completely removed. We do not participate in this practice. If my lambs do not show as well because of it, so be it.  That is a decision we have made.

I understand that some think that tail docking is wrong, just as they do disbudding and other animal husbandry practices.  This is not our belief, we believe we raise our animals humanely and this is a practice that is done to improve the health and welfare of our animals.

I respect others opinions and hopefully they will respect ours.

(This post is based on our opinions on sheep management practices)







Thursday, February 16, 2017

Simple Homestead Hop #91


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Monday, February 13, 2017

Shepherdess Notes: Raising Bottle Lambs




(this is a post from 2014 edited and reposted)

Some years we have no bottle lambs, some years we have several. The start of our 2017 lambing season, we already have one. The ewe is a wonderful mother, but one side of her udder is not producing milk. (assuming from previous case of mastitis, this is her first  year lambing here)

There are several reasons you may end up with a bottle lamb.

Ewe rejects the lamb. 
We do what we can to remedy this. I will put the ewe and her babies in a a pen.
If the mother pushes the lambs away or refuses to let them nurse, I will put a halter on the ewe and tie her up so she cannot move her head and I will let the lambs nurse. If the ewe is not aggressive towards the lambs, I will keep the lambs with her in the pen.
I will go out every couple of hours and make sure the lambs are eating. Even if it means that I have to continue tying her up each time. The lambs need the colostrum that they get from their mothers the first few days.
Usually the ewe will come around.
If the ewe is aggressive with the lambs (hurts them) I will keep them in a separate pen next to hers.
If this doesn't work then we have a bottle baby on our hands.

Ewe dies
We have never had this happen, but on occasion the ewe dies after she lambs. You can try to graft the lamb onto another ewe who gives birth to a single or loses her lamb/lambs. If that is not possible you are left with bottle feeding.

Ewe does not have adequate milk

This is the situation we are in this year. We had a hard winter and have a few older ladies that can't provide enough milk for their lambs. We decided to keep the lambs with the ewes and supplement bottles.
I like to keep the lambs with their mothers if we can. They are more socialized that way and act like sheep.  When we are their "sole mothers" they do not behave like sheep. Life is much easier for them when they are raised with the flock.

Too many lambs for ewe to take care of 
We have only had triplets a couple of times in all the years we have raised sheep.
But some breeds are known for having triplets/quads, and sometimes the ewe cannot take care of them all. You have to make a choice and bottle feed one of the lambs OR supplement them all.

What to feed
Lambs do well on goats milk. When we have an adequate amount of milk on hand that is what we use.
This year we do not have enough to go around so we are using Lamb Milk Replacer. It is expensive and not my first choice.
I have also mixed goat's milk with the Lamb Milk Replacer.

I had a bag of milk replacer on hand in the freezer but upon further inspection I realized it was NOT for sheep. Too much copper content. Make sure you check labels when purchasing replacer from the farm store.
They are not all created equally. Different species of livestock have different needs.

Thankfully, the bummer lambs we have this year took to the bottles right away. I was surprised since they were actively nursing. Bottle feeding doesn't always go smoothly. Some lambs are quite stubborn and take quite a bit of coaxing to accept the bottle.
We follow the feeding guidelines given on the bag of milk replacer.
We just went to three a day feedings from four! We will eventually get down to 2.
It is time consuming having to feed the lambs. It is never the ideal thing , even if they are CUTE!




Funny side note: Today we seen two of the  bottle lambs  running along side the fence. I couldn't figure out what they were doing. Then I seen what had their attention, a jogger and a young child, who was riding a bike. The lambs were chasing after them baaaing away. People! And people have bottles...
They stopped to watch the lambs, I think they must have felt pretty special having such a fan club.


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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Simple Homestead Blog Hop #90



We have lambs..finally! 

What is new in you neck of the woods? 

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Our First Lambs of 2017





Most of our lambs are due in April but we do have a few ewes that we breed for January.

 January came and went, with no babies.

February 4th was the day!  There is always some excitement over the first lambs of the season. Okay, I will admit it, they are the most spoiled lambs.

Blessed with a  pair of bouncing baby ram lambs, Bluefaced Leicester.  I will be honest, I don't think BFL's  are the cutest  lambs, but cute enough :)

A few minutes old....


video



Three more ewes to go in February.

Any farm babies at your place?


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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Simple Homestead Hop #89


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Look forward to seeing your Homesteading, Homeschooling, and Homemaking post this week !

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Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead - Facebook - Pinterest - Instagram Tracy at Our Simple Homestead - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest Nancy at On the Homefront - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest Dash at Bloom Where You're Planted - Facebook - Instagram Delci at Heritage Homestead - Facebook - Google+ - Pinterest - YouTube;Sandra at Clearwater Farm - Facebook - Pinterest - Instagram
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Congratulations!

 If you were featured be sure to pick up your, " Simple Homestead” button. We look forward to seeing what you have to share this week!  If you would like to be featured in the future, be sure to link back to the hop. We love to read encouraging posts about homesteading. Please stop by to congratulate the featured bloggers this week. If you were featured, grab a button to display proudly on your blog.


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You are invited to share your original homesteading, homemaking, and homeschooling posts. We have a few little rules: 
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