Tuesday, April 30, 2013

2013 Spring Lambs - The Bottle Babies

Stacy laying down. Left to right: Glory, Page, Connie, Tan.
This spring I've had 6 ewes produce lambs. After giving it some thought, I've decided it was time to start keeping some flock replacements. Some of the not-so-friendly ewes will be replaced with hand reared lambs.

Neighbors ask me why I'm bothering to bottle feed some lambs. The lambs aren't orphans, so why go to the expense and hassle? My answer....I want friendly sheep. Life is easier if the sheep come when called, let me handle them, follow me to new pastures. So much easier to treat them, keep them groomed, get them dewormed. If they break out, I just have to call them (or rattle a bucket of grain) to get them back home. 

The alternative is a flighty flock of sheep that I need a Border Collie to control. Then I would need a catch pen and chute to work on the sheep. And even then it would be a mini-rodeo. No thanks! Been there and as far as I am concerned, it's not for me. I've gotten myself knocked around by sheep way too many times, and I'm not getting any younger. So I'm looking forward to dismantling the sheep chute.

In the past I had two ewes and one ram that were bottle babies. They were a joy compared to my now more traditional style sheep flock. So I am heading back to the friendly kind of flock. My flighty ewes and rams will be sold. 

For now I will be keeping my two dorper ewes. I'd like to get another set of lambs from them before selling the two. And I have three pregnant ewes that haven't lambed yet. So four ewes and one ram will shortly be leaving. Plus of course the extra lambs that are being nursed by their moms. And once the three pregnant ones have lambed, they will also go.

This will leave me with:
...2 dorper ewes
...my old Black Belly ram
...6 bottle fed ewes (2 dorper, 3 Black Belly/St Croix mix, 1 dorper/Black Belly mix)
...1 bottle fed dorper ram
... Plus hopefully 2 ewe lambs not yet born (Black Belly/St Croix mix)

10 ewes, 2 rams. This gives me wiggle room to comfortably add two or three more ewes if something special happens to come along. I'd like to gradually increase the flock size so that I have enough excess lambs for selling or trading. But I don't want to out grow my available pasture. It's a real balancing act......how many sheep to keep in the flock. I've seen two of my friends severely damage their pastures by keeping too many sheep for too long. I'm trying to avoid that mistake.

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