Lambs are looking well and growing strongly, the singles in particular are doing well. As the lambs get older they are eating more grass and taking less milk from their mums, much to their relief. Another few weeks and I will have a go at weighing them in my makeshift weigh crate. The lambs will be weaned at the end of July to allow the ewes time to gain condition before being put back to the ram in November.
Last years lambs had a brief holiday for a few weeks at a paddock in a village nearby. The lush grass clearly wasn't exciting enough and after pushing their way through the hedge and making a break for it, they had to come back home in disgrace!
Last saturday was a day the sheep and I had been looking forward too. The warmer weather and the increased incidents of flystrike in local flocks meant that having the wool off was a double pleasure. We are lucky to have a very good ( and reliable) shearer who visits and shears several flocks in the village in one day. Whilst they ewes and lambs were penned up we also vaccinated them against a range of colistridial diseases. This is a series of two jabs 4 weeks apart, followed by an annual booster 6 weeks before lambing.
Rameses has shown his stuff and his lambs have grown quickly, they look strong and have moved from their mothers' milk onto eating grass. We also took delivery of some more jacob's and their Lleyn cross lambs. Most white sheep when they are crossed with Jacob's are black and this is the case with the lambs, they also have a much woollier coat. The shedding sheep have also started to shed their wool and they look a bit ragged, by the end of the month they should have shed all their wool and have a covering of short coarse hair.
School easter holidays means new arrivals at Jack's Jacobs. Rameses did a good job, all the ewes were pregnant and his lambs were strong and up and sucking quickly. On the whole the ewes behaved and gave birth by themselves first thing in the morning. We now have 14 lambs growing well in the field. I was pleased to see that my research into which ram will keep the spotty coat has paid off and we have some nicely marked lambs. This year also saw me try two adoption methods; a wet adoption, in which I rubbed the birth fluids of the first lamb onto the one I wanted to adopt and fooled the mum into thinking it was hers and a skin adoption; the ewe had a dead lamb so I got an orphan lamb and put the skin of her dead lamb on it until she accepted it as her own. Both methods worked well and the ewes quickly accepted the lambs as their own. Unfortunately things don't always go smoothly and this year has had its ups and downs, however every year is a learning experience and helps improve things for the following years.
The pigs also arrived at the start of the holidays and they are crackers. This year we have a change of boar; he is a Welsh boar and having seen his previous litters he has produced some proper meaty pigs. The spots come from mum who is a Gloucester Old Spot X, they have been very chilled and settled quickly.
The skins also came back over the holidays and I am very pleased with the results. I have been selecting breeding stock to produce well marked rugs and this has paid off well this year. The skins are sent to a tannery at Bridgewater in Devon, the process takes a long time but they are well worth the wait. Most of the rugs have been booked in advance but I still have a few left, drop me an email if you would like one and I can send pictures of the remaining rugs.
November saw the arrival of 10 ewe lambs. I decided to try a more commercial type of sheep to run along side the Jacobs. These girls are woolshedders, they still grow a fleece for the winter but will shed it in the spring when the weather improves. They come from a flock that selects for easier management, so hopefully they will do well by me. They will have to wait until next autumn to go to Rameses though. Looks like Rameses has done his job and has marked all the jacob ewes. Hopefully they will takes and we can look forward to a healthy crop of lambs in April. He is turning out to be a well mannered and easy to handle ram, let's hope his offspring turn out well.
In order to have lambs at the right time, I put Rameses in with the ewes 147days before I would like my first lambs. The ewes will cycle and be receptive to the ram for 1-2 days out of their 17day cycle. Hopefully he will cover them all first time round, I have marked up his chest with a dye paste so I can see which of the ewes he has served. I can then count forward the 147 days and know when to expect that ewe to lamb.
Collected 5 new ewes today, not to far to go, just round the corner. They look well and have all lambed before, so Rameses will have 10 ewes to attend to. Not much for a commercial ram but he is only young. Oddly, the response from the resident ewes was to get into the trailer with the new arrivals.
This years hogget went to C&S meats on friday and are at this minute hanging for 10 days before being butchered. They are all spoken for this year but two will be for sale in the village shop from Saturday the 9th of Nov.