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Author Topic: Polytunnels for lambing ?  (Read 12514 times)

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Polytunnels for lambing ?
« on: July 29, 2008, 08:45:18 pm »
I'm way way ahead of myself here as lambing won't be until mid-January at the earliest however ...... can anyone offer any advice/tales of experiences of using polytunnels for sheep ?   This will be my first time lambing - only likely to have four to six having lambs this time round so only need a small polytunnel (most I've seen advertised are for about 60 rather than 6 sheep ! ) The sheep will have a shelter in their field which could be utilised but this will be at the back of the field which is not far away but not right beside the house.  As I'm not keen on going out in the pitch black on my own in the middle of the night  - have had the slightly mad idea of temporarily erecting a polytunnel in the back garden for a few weeks (it is a big garden!).    Look forward to any views .... thanks

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2008, 09:05:26 am »
I've not used one so am not really qualified to comment but my main concern woudl be over ventilation and avoiding the build up of condensation. Ventilation is always the main problem with housing sheep and a plastic tunnel might cause problems.

I suppose it will depend how you site it though. Are you planning to house the sheep 24/7 or just to bring them in at night? The farm I worked in years ago use dto use fields near the steading but bring the ewes in at night so we could keep an eye on them more easily.

kaz

  • Joined Jul 2008
  • Ceredigion
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Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2008, 09:49:57 pm »
I have seen locally a chap who houses his sheep at lambing time in a polytunnel but there seems to be no sides to the tunnel he uses straw.
Penybont Ryelands. Ystwyth Coloured Ryelands.  2 alpacas, 2 angora goats, 2 anglo nubian kids, 3golden retrievers a collie and a red fox labrador retriever, geese, ducks & chickens.

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2008, 10:38:06 pm »
thanks for the replies.   was thinking about 24/7 for a few weeks.  tho' to get the sheep into the back garden  would involve bringing them through a communal courtyard past a couple of neighbours houses so don't think I'd get away with bringing in/putting out on a regular basis (or even more than once !!) - better to do a one off move in (under cover of darkness tee hee !) and put back out once.  I've seen ads for commercial sheep tunnels so I'll phone a couple of manufacturers and find out what their smallest size is.  Failing that will steel myself for going out in the dark in the middle of the night to look at black sheep !

Pete

  • Joined Jun 2009
Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2009, 08:40:01 am »
I've only just come across this discussion, so perhaps my comments are a little out of time?

We have been using a polytunnel for lambing for nearly 20 years. There has never been a problem with ventilation, as our model has Tensar windbreak all round (except for the doorway) at the bottom. Even when there is a howling gale outside, the wind speed inside is reduced to a gentle breeze. The original Visqueen heavy-duty plastic lasted until last winter, when part of it split. A quick, effective, temporary repair was made by using a large tarpaulin sheet.

We would unreservedly recommend a polytunnel for lambing, provided that it was made for that purpose, and not intended for domestic or horticultural use.

alimcgregor

  • Joined Nov 2009
Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2009, 09:58:50 am »
If you have tensar on the sides and a visqueen sheet then it was probably one of our buildings (www.mcgregorpolytunnels.co.uk/livestock) 'dad' has been selling these for sheep for about 27.5 years and everything  mentioned in the post above tallies with the feedback we have always had. A suggestion worth considering is that you can use these buildings for turkeys coming into the winter and sheep coming out... they work very well for both, thanks ali mcgregor

HappyHippy

  • Guest
Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2009, 11:18:10 am »
Failing that will steel myself for going out in the dark in the middle of the night to look at black sheep !
I saw a man out walking his dog last week in the dark - the dog had a flashing collar and harness on. Maybe light up collars would let you see where they are more easily if you do decide to keep them out in the field.
Here's one on ebay - just to give you an idea http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/1-x-LARGE-LIGHTED-FLASHING-DOG-COLLAR-GREEN_W0QQitemZ160377516015QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Pet_Supplies_Dogs?hash=item25573eafef

Canadian Sheepfarmer

  • Joined Nov 2009
  • Manitoba, Canada.
Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2009, 02:41:44 pm »
No problem with polytunnels for sheep in the UK, I never heard otherwise.
When people first started to bring sheep indoors there were worries about air movement and confining an extensive animal, but the advantages outweigh the problems I think.

 Over here, I bought some ewe lambs once from a lady who had a redundant PMU barn. This barn was set up for pregnant mare urine collection, basically horses in nappies, it used to be a big earner here in Canada for HRT pills for lade-ees. There was a scare and the whole industry crashed. This barn was like a hospital, bright lights, central heating, everything clean and very shiny, the lady sold the horses and got into sheep, lambing Dorsets out of season in this wonderful barn. You could be out there in January in a blizzard, 40 below humming quietly while you lambed your sheep in your shirtsleeves.
It beats chasing around in the mud with a torch!

kaz

  • Joined Jul 2008
  • Ceredigion
  • Dust yourself off when life throws you down.
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Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2009, 06:14:11 pm »
If you have tensar on the sides and a visqueen sheet then it was probably one of our buildings (www.mcgregorpolytunnels.co.uk/livestock) 'dad' has been selling these for sheep for about 27.5 years and everything  mentioned in the post above tallies with the feedback we have always had. A suggestion worth considering is that you can use these buildings for turkeys coming into the winter and sheep coming out... they work very well for both, thanks ali mcgregor

That's what I've seen. Are they mega expensive for the smallest version?
Penybont Ryelands. Ystwyth Coloured Ryelands.  2 alpacas, 2 angora goats, 2 anglo nubian kids, 3golden retrievers a collie and a red fox labrador retriever, geese, ducks & chickens.

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2009, 06:48:53 pm »
since my original post (July 2008!) I have gone ahead and built a couple of wooden stables (which I already had planning permission for).  At the time I got a brochure from mcgregor polytunnels and was very interested.  However, back then, when checking with my local authority they said I would need to apply for new planning permission for the polytunnel.   I couldn't bear the stress of going through the planning process again (!) so went ahead and built the stables which I can now use next year for lambing.

I would like to say though that I found mcgregor polytunnels great to deal with and I would love to have one of their polytunnels for my sheep.  Great for space, light and ventilation and would probably have cost me a quarter of what I've just spent for wooden stables!!   If we ever moved somewhere where we weren't overlooked by neighbours (and therefore unlikely to attract planning objections)  I would definitely buy one    no .... I have no connection with their company!

ScotsGirl

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • Wiltshire
Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2009, 08:17:52 pm »
Well I was going to ask for advice on polytunnels for my 10 sheep but most of my questions have been answered.  Anyone got advice on what size I would need bearing in mind all 10 may lamb if my ram wasn't a dud!  Also do you deep litter sheep like cattle or muck out regularly as with a horse?  I only have a couple of acres of which one acre is being left for post-lambing so looking for best option to help save the grass.

Any advice welcome.  My girls do like their home comforts and are usually found lying around my horse in her shelter.

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2009, 09:56:23 pm »
Welcome to the forum - I see you have only made one post.  Hope there will be many more - where are you? and good luck with your lambing.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

ScotsGirl

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • Wiltshire
Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2009, 09:17:46 pm »
Hi, I am in sunny Wiltshire.  I managed to deliver 8 lambs last year but had to call the vet to help with 9th which unfortunately died after a sleepless night.  Suffolk rams produce some rather large lambs! This year I have opted for a Southdown with my mule ewes, 2 Suffolk crosses and 3 Southdown crosses.  Should be interesting.  Only worry is I have just noticed I have been sold a duff ewe as it has an overshot top jaw. Will have to see if it produces a healthy lamb before deciding whether to slaughter her. Sheep are definitely addictive just wish I had more ground.

Hardfeather

  • Guest
Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2009, 08:35:12 am »
Suffolk rams produce some rather large lambs!

For many years, the Suffolk was the most prolifically used terminal sire, and is still the tup of choice for many commercial producers.

I work with a small flock of pedigree Suffolks, and I have found that over-feeding of the ewes is the biggest factor in lambing difficulties. Single-bearing ewes, in particular, can produce some monster lambs if they are fed too much.

We have modified our third trimester feeding of the ewes for the past two years, and the lambing has been much easier and productive, with lambs much more alert and active than some in the past. The last two lambings have been up on percentages born alive (without serious intervention), and on lamb survival. No Caesarian sections either.

It's important too, to take the prevailing weather conditions into account when feeding prior to lambing. Last year, for example, was very mild, while this year (with many Suffolks starting to lamb around now), even with ewes inside.......................

ScotsGirl

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • Wiltshire
Re: Polytunnels for lambing ?
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2009, 11:12:01 pm »
Suffolk rams produce some rather large lambs!

For many years, the Suffolk was the most prolifically used terminal sire, and is still the tup of choice for many commercial producers.

I work with a small flock of pedigree Suffolks, and I have found that over-feeding of the ewes is the biggest factor in lambing difficulties. Single-bearing ewes, in particular, can produce some monster lambs if they are fed too much.

... yes I think I may have given them too much and have a nasty feeling it will be the same this year.  Are sheep not sensible only to show they are hungry when they really are or are they just plain greedy?  My girls act like they haven't seen food for weeks and go crazy for a handful of nuts each and a large slice of hay.  There is no grass and I don't want them starving plus it stops them trying to steal my horse's feed.  This was probably their downfall last year but this year horse is fed high so they can't reach!

 

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