The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: epherdwicks on November 06, 2019, 06:35:53 pm

Title: ram lambs too young to work?
Post by: epherdwicks on November 06, 2019, 06:35:53 pm
The lovely Herdwick ram I was hoping to use on my ewes imminently has hurt his back and probably won't be fit to work for a while.  I have four uncastrated ram lambs of my own, born in April.  Could I use them or are they too young?  (Obviously I will keep them away from their own mothers...!) And would it mean I shouldn't send them away to the butcher after that for a while, if at all?
Title: Re: ram lambs too young to work?
Post by: bj_cardiff on November 06, 2019, 07:05:59 pm
Oh dear - just out of interest how have you diagnosed a bad back in a ram? I've never knowingly seen a sheep with a bad back - I def wouldn't want to be using a ram that had one!!

I have used Ram lambs of a similar age before, Lleyn though and I think faster maturing than Herdwicks. In your situation I would put at least 2 of them out with the ewes (no idea how many ewes you have) and see how they get on. A lot will depend on the ewes, they might not stand well for ram lambs, especially if they are young themselves. It'd be a good idea to raddle them so you can double check they are working
Title: Re: ram lambs too young to work?
Post by: Fleecewife on November 06, 2019, 08:35:48 pm
We have Hebs which are thought of as late developers.  We bought a May born tup lamb this year, but then decided to use him on a handful of ewes.  We are also using two other tups on small groups - good for genetic diversity to use several tups.
We put the ewes with the tups yesterday; this morning the lamb had jumped in with the senior tup and was chasing his ewes round.  Little devil!  We have moved the non-breeding ewes overnight, in case he gets them in his sights too, but we will have to put an electric strand right around the lamb's field to keep him away from all the ewes.
So yes, your Herdwicks should be perfectly capable of serving ewes, but bj_cardiff's suggestion of using two together, if it's not for pedigree lambs, would be a good idea.  Check their testes and penises thoroughly before they go in to make sure everything is in the right place and healthy.

What are the symptoms of your ram's bad back?  Sometimes if a sheep has two bad feet they stand and walk very awkwardly which could hint at back pain but is feet.  Or is it a back injury the vet has diagnosed?

The lambs meat should be fine once they have calmed down ie their lower bellies stop being fiery red.  We send all our tups which are destined for the pot in August at 16 months, when they are very quiet and chubby from spring and summer grass.  Do herdies go then too?  They should be fine for meat by then.

Title: Re: ram lambs too young to work?
Post by: SallyintNorth on November 06, 2019, 11:30:55 pm
They’re more than six months old, I would think they would be fine.  I’ve used lots of ram lambs, of several different breeds, and never had a problem.  If poss, give them a few experienced girls first, so they learn the job.  They’re often rather over-enthusiastic at first, and get raddle everywhere!! ::)  :D. They’ll settle down after the first couple of ewes ;)
Title: Re: ram lambs too young to work?
Post by: epherdwicks on November 07, 2019, 10:06:13 am
Thanks for all these helpful hints.

Apparently the thinking is he's hurt his back because he is dragging his back feet behind him...  doesn't sound good to me, and I would be very wary of borrowing him if there is the slightest chance of risking more damage.  Awaiting verdict from vet visit yesterday.

Sounds as if I can go ahead with my ram lambs.  I was going to split them into two groups so they are not with their respective mums, so each will only have three or four ewes to cover.  Might swap them over as far as I can after the first three weeks too.

Good thing my advert to sell them as future breeding stock didn't get any takers as it is really too late to find an alternative ram!  If they prove ok they may be allowed to stay on for another year, or I will send them off to the butcher next spring with their brothers.

Title: Re: ram lambs too young to work?
Post by: Fleecewife on November 07, 2019, 05:29:09 pm
Oh, he's a borrowed tup!  Definitely don't take him - an animal dragging his back legs sounds like he would be unable to mount a ewe.  Your tup lambs will be fine.  Great idea to swap them halfway.  If they sire lambs then you could later sell them on as 'proven tups'.
Title: Re: ram lambs too young to work?
Post by: Tim W on November 07, 2019, 10:27:48 pm
We use ram lambs to breed every year ---they get 40 to 50 ewes each for 10 days and usually get 30 to 40 pregnant in that timescale
They will all be late April born and go with the ewes in mid November ---ram lambs will range from 36 to 45 kg at this time
They will cope no problem  ;)
Title: Re: ram lambs too young to work?
Post by: pharnorth on November 08, 2019, 07:51:57 pm
My rqm lambs aren't as lucky as Tim's. I only have a small flock so they only get a couple of ewes each, but it does help that when sold on they are proven.  The other option is to sell them on to other people as soon as they are done as you won't be the only person with a ram plan that went astray.
Title: Re: ram lambs too young to work?
Post by: silkwoodzwartbles on November 09, 2019, 12:16:06 pm
My aged tup went dud this year so I recruited his son (obviously sending his mother in with my hubby's tup) to serve the rest of the ewes and at scanning yesterday he'd got 7 of the 10 in lamb. I've put him back in with the other 3 again in the hopes of having April lambs (pedigree flock and two of the 3 are shearlings I only bought in last year as lambs so not willing to send them cull). Bit of a pain having to lamb in February and again in April but hey ho.

My tup lamb was born in February and about 50kg when he went in initially - probably nearer 60kg now. He's a beast! I'll probably run him on and use him again next year (if his lambs are nice) as well as buying a second tup to go alongside and serve any related ewes (as his sisters will be entering the breeding flock next year too).