Lambing and shearing

The lambing season was a challenging one this year. Out of twelve lambs we lost six! Butterball lost one of her lambs, but that seems to be a mothering issue, she had twins again this year but was only interested in the first one. This happened last year too but last year we got to the second lamb quick enough to force the ewe to bond with the lamb but it wasn't to be this year. Two single lambs were born during the bitterly cold spell late in February. The newbie ewes, Stripes and Athena, chose to lamb in the field rather than in the relative shelter of the sheep barn. No matter what we were unable to revive them. Another newbie ewe, Hestia, gave birth in the barn, however the lamb was still born possibly with a broken neck. All of the newbie ewes did their best to clean off the lambs and were very upset when we had to bury the lambs. Next came Marina's twins, they seemed to do well for a week but then became bloated. We removed the lambs from the ewe to intensive care (our family room) and treated for scours. We also had the vet do a stool sample which didn't show up anything. Their appetite was very good but they seemed to be unable to absorb any nutrients from the ewe or from two different brands of milk replacer and succumbed after 1-2 weeks.
For us the end of lambing means the beginning of shearing. This year we've decided to shear all of the lambs ourselves including the meat lambs. We are very slow using scissors, but doing it ourselves is allowing us to better gauge the characteristics of the fleeces and the temperament of the sheep. We will use these factors in deciding which ewes to keep and which ones to cull from our flock. Using our electric shears with colored sheep causes too many nicks to the sheep and second cuts on the fleece. The skin of the colored sheep is dark along with the fleece and so it is very difficult to differentiate between the two.

This year we will be looking for a new ram to broaden the genetics of the flock and increase the quality of the fleeces. We have found that Mel, our CVM Ram has too much crimp when mated with the colored ewes which makes fiber processing especially difficult on a drum carder. We are extremely pleased with Paris' line, Hestia, Zeus (Ram) and this years twins. Paris is a Romeldale with long lustrous locks. Butterball and Colossus are white Romneys with regular length fine locks.