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Author Topic: Got myself in a bit of a pickle...  (Read 440 times)

SallyN

  • Joined Jun 2015
  • Nr Chard, Somerset
Got myself in a bit of a pickle...
« on: February 09, 2019, 08:00:27 am »
Hello all, I am sorting out a bit of a mess at the moment and hoped you would be able to help.

I had been having a year off lambing this year... but my ewes thought otherwise. We had a pair of ewe lambs born on Thursday and two other ewes very obviously expecting any moment. I am tearing my hair out as I never lamb this early normally - the weather is against me and I don't have any under cover facilities so have had to borrow a friend's, and I am really busy with other things at this time of year too so it's hard to fit it all in. Plus this year (one of the reasons I decided to have a year off) I don't quite have enough grazing as I lost one field last year - so I have had to run around finding extra grazing too.

Anyway: even all of that isn't quite addressing the main issue, which is the dad. I thought at first it was my next-door neighbours' rams who had somehow got in: she has a Zwartbles and a Charollais (mine are Dorset Downs). But the lambs are rather obviously not black, and now that one has lambed we know the rough timings which aren't quite right for the Charollais - it didn't arrive on her smallholding till mid-September, so my ewe would have had to be a week early at least (plus it's not as likely he would have got out so soon).

So... the most likely candidates are my ram lambs which were running with the flock till they were weaned at about 4 1/2 months - i.e. mid September. I have heard that ram lambs can sire babies as young as 2 months, but I have run entire ram lambs with my flock till 5 months before and never had this problem. Only three of my ewes appear to be pregnant so he didn't get them all, which is another surprise as I would have thought if he was active he would have had a higher strike rate - but then from the timings it seems he was only just getting going before I separated him off.

Anyway - my main question is, what are my options with the lambs? I can't keep them - my flock is already too large and I was going to reduce it this year anyway. Plus if they are the ram lamb's, they are inbred. So how do I sell them? I couldn't in all conscience sell them at the breed sale but would a small flock owner be interested even despite their parentage? Should I sell them at open market instead? And if so as store lambs or breeding stock? Or should I just kill them all out (even the ewe lambs) and sell them as meat?

Apologies for the long message but I'm really upset about all this - I'm so careful about my lines as a rule, and one of the ewes that's pregnant is also my lovely older ewe who had mastitis and I don't breed from as she only has one teat and always has twins. She's got twins again now so I'm going to have to bottle rear for the first time too. I could really do without all this running around when I have so much else going on. But any help would be gratefully received... thank you :D

Smallholding without the smallholding, on various bits of rented land and a big veg garden! Small flock of Dorset Down sheep, assorted hens and a couple of idle ponies.
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Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
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Re: Got myself in a bit of a pickle...
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2019, 08:20:22 am »
why the panic about inbreeding?    One ram lamb cant be son of all pregnant ewes and may not be son of any.  Also if producing a new breed/ strain that is exactly what they do … inbreed.    As you don't know the father they can't be sold as pedigree so just sell them as Dorsets without pedigree.   People are already looking for orphan lambs for their ewes ….  so you may not have to bottle feed either.

If you want to reduce flock then then what about selling ewes with lambs at foot to smallholders.... I reduced my flock like this last year …. sold on Fb very easily.
Linda

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SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Got myself in a bit of a pickle...
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2019, 08:36:05 am »
 :hug:

So sorry to hear you have found yourself in this situation. 

Maybe the long warm summer had something to do with early maturation? 

I’d agree that a possible crossing of son back to mum or auntie really isn’t the end of the world.  I might choose not to keep - or sell - any of the progeny for breeders, but equally, if the animals are correct and have no evident defects, they’d probably be fine for someone who doesn’t need pedigree.  Otherwise they’ll certainly be absolutely fine to sell as stores or kept on to fat size.

And yes, get on your local Orphan Lamb register and find someone needs a lamb for a ewe.

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyN

  • Joined Jun 2015
  • Nr Chard, Somerset
Re: Got myself in a bit of a pickle...
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2019, 09:02:11 am »
Thank you for the sympathy :D And I think you're right re warm summer (their dad was an extremely good ram too so I think they might have inherited his traits!)

I think I might be flapping a bit too from the sound of it... so really, that's OK? All this is a new experience for me - have been keeping sheep for about 7 years but not had to sell any livestock before so don't know the rules.

I wouldn't want to sell the ewes as they are among my best breeding ewes but I would be happy to sell on the lambs once weaned if a smallholder might be interested in starting a flock without pedigree. I guess I could also keep them for another year (if I can sort the grazing) and sell them as shearlings when they might be a more attractive proposition.

The orphan lamb register sounds wonderful and may be the solution to my poor one-tit ewe - thank you so much, I didn't even know such a thing existed. So how do you find them? (I'm in South Somerset).

Thank you so much for your advice, this forum is fantastic - it always helps calm me down and put things into perspective again :D

Smallholding without the smallholding, on various bits of rented land and a big veg garden! Small flock of Dorset Down sheep, assorted hens and a couple of idle ponies.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Got myself in a bit of a pickle...
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2019, 01:03:38 pm »
Try Facebook for your local lamb register, or ask the farm vet
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Got myself in a bit of a pickle...
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2019, 04:03:10 pm »
Lambs born in Feb get a premium price over those born April or later. SO - either wean them at 8 weeks for someone else to either fatten on Spring grass, or keep for breeding. Just sell them on. They will fetch a good price then and let someone else make the decision of whether to keep them or send for meat. Or keep them on yourself and get them fat by the end of June by which time the grass starts to lose its feed value. Then sell them fat and get an even better price for them. No point keeping them any longer, as you say you've lost a field, so you obviously won't have enough grass to keep them after June when the growth of grass as well as the feed value slows down.   
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

SallyN

  • Joined Jun 2015
  • Nr Chard, Somerset
Re: Got myself in a bit of a pickle...
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2019, 03:16:11 pm »
thanks all for your help - really appreciated.

In the end my ewe had twin lambs yesterday afternoon, both girls, and I found a home for one of them - so she is being raised as a bottle fed lamb by someone else (yay!) and poor old Apple only has one lamb to raise, so everyone is happy.

And I will look to sell the lambs in June/July then. I was also wondering what channels you use for private sales (i.e. not market or breed sales) - I know there's the marketplace on this forum but was wondering if there was anywhere else you use too?

Smallholding without the smallholding, on various bits of rented land and a big veg garden! Small flock of Dorset Down sheep, assorted hens and a couple of idle ponies.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Got myself in a bit of a pickle...
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2019, 05:20:31 pm »
Facebook seems to be a good place these days, although there are rules about selling livestock, so you have to do it whatever way the smallholders or farming group in question want it done.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Got myself in a bit of a pickle...
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2019, 09:25:49 pm »
Or you could try advertising on Preloved. I usually sell mine there if I don't take them to market.

Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

 

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