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Author Topic: When should I take out my tup lambs?....Clearly sooner than I have been doing  (Read 2990 times)


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
We usually take out our tup lambs from the ewe group in mid- August, when they are between 4 1/2 and 5 months old.  Our oldest tup lamb this year is now 4 months and very well grown.  This morning I came out to see him chasing round and mounting (with intent) my oldest ewe, Jezebel, who is 16 years old and was not bred this year (she had twins last year so this year she is resting).  He had clearly been chasing her for a while as she was in a state, foaming at the mouth and sides heaving.
We quickly rounded up the whole lot, extracted all the tup lambs and put them across the road next to, but not in with, the older males - a bit young still to be pestered by randy tups, but Ace, the culprit, deserves everything he gets  :D .  It's good to know he's 'ready to work' and 'keen to work', but I am upset about my poor Jez, who is a very special old lady.
I gave her rehydration mixture with extra glucose, until she spat it back at me, then we put her somewhere cool to rest (yes, the sun is shining here, unusually).  She refused a Digestive, which is unheard of.  Half an hour later she looked brighter-eyed and a friend had come to sit with her, so  :fc:  for Jez.  And  :fc:   we don't have a couple of little Hogmanay surprises.

The point of this is that my sheep are Hebrideans, ie Primitives which have the reputation of being positive seasonal breeders - not today  :o
« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 12:06:32 pm by Fleecewife »

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Oh poor Jez!  I'm sure she'll recover  :bouquet:  Sounds like she wasn't interested in Ace's attentions, so hopefully there won't be early lambs...  :fc:

We've had tup lambs very active this year too - I'd put it down to the increasing proportion of Charollais in our breeding (they seem to be ready and able any time of year, certainly much sooner than our hill- and Texel-bred sheep) and to the weather seeming to be mosly more autumnal than summery.   I haven't seen any mounting adult ewes, though - only ewe lambs, who I am pretty sure are not old enough to be cycling yet.

Does anyone know how sheep perceive seasons?  Those which are seasonal breeders are detecting and responding to what climactic or other signs?  If the Jetstream forms any part of their input, we could all be in for a bit of trouble...  :o
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing


  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
I think it is supposed to be shortening day length - which normally wouldnt be yet, trouble is some of the days have been so dark and glowering that I wouldnt be surprised if they got confused! >:(


  • Joined Mar 2012
yes its all about shortening daylight hours that kick the process of, apart from breeds like the Dorsets that will cycle at most points of the year.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
I think there's also an element of latitude involved.  Sheep which originate from, or at least have lived for many centuries in northern latitudes tend to conceive, and therefore to lamb, later, which is sensible.  By all that I mainly mean Soays, but I think the Scandinavian breeds do a similar thing.  Of course if it's shortening day length which triggers the start of cycling, then the more northerly the origin of a breed, the easier and more accurate is their perception of changing day length because the further north you go, the greater the seasonal difference (at the equator night and day are equal in length throughout the year, near the poles summer days are very long and winter nights are very long).  So the change from day to day is a greater number of minutes the further north you go, so easier to observe.
We have noticed this difference between our breeds.  Hebrideans - which of course are a northern shorttailed breed but have been living in England for over a hundred years/50 generations (and only recently returned to Scotland)  - normally prefer to lamb from late March, through April and into the beginning of May.  Soays on the other hand, don't normally (here in southern Scotland) seem to want to start lambing before mid April.  The descendants of the original Prof Jewel introduction  have been living down in England for only about 50 years, and plenty of fresh newcomers from St Kilda have been added to the stock, so they can be considered closer to a more northerly acclimatisation.
Now I'm waffling  :eyelashes:
It would be interesting if sheep can observe the Jet Stream - they might make better weather forecasters than the ones on the telly  :innocent: ;D
« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 02:36:56 pm by Fleecewife »

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus


  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
My ram lambs have been practising mounting for a while now (March born).  They get a thump from the mummy ewes though once they've had enough of being pestered.  Perhaps your Jez is just not up to thumping 'em nowadays. :)  Having said that I did notice one of my girls looking a bit flustered after some ramly attention yesterday, so I shall be weaning them this weekend.
I don't think the day length has anything to do with it for ram lambs, they are just learning the ropes.  Now if your Jez was standing for him then I would be worried, and surprised.


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Like you, I normally take mine out mid-August.

Seems like you've just had a very forward one this time. I'm not sure four-month old lambs are operational - though a four-month goat would be, so perhaps a lamb could be  :o My Shetlands are still in with their mums and sisters.

My neighbour has only just speaned his lambs (yesterday) and they're March born Mules. He thoughtfully brings the ewes up to the pastures near me, so his wife doesn't have to listen to them shouting for their lambs  ::)


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Nice neighbour jaykay  :-J ;D
Jezebel is ok now thank you everyone, back grazing with the flock.   Initially she was very dull-eyed, doing the Eeyore thing, and wobbly on her back legs.  She did appear to be standing for Ace the Precocious but I think only because she was totally exhausted - I think it had been going on for a long time before I saw.   The rehydration mixture with extra glucose and a couple of mashed up Digestives in it seemed to help.  After a while she accepted some whole Digestives and within about 3 hours she was back up taking her place in the flock.  She lost most of her teeth last winter when she was carrying twins so any setback like this is harder on her than on a younger ewe.
The question now is: Did Ace chase her because he could and she couldn't run away, or was she actually in season, having not been bred last Autumn.  Only time will tell, but I do hope she's not in lamb as I didn't intend to breed from her again, although the tup lamb is not too closely related so not a disaster from that point of view.
If anyone wants to see Jez, there are pics of her on our website - one where she is eating her favourite snack, and one with her twins last year.

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Glad to hear Jezebel is back in the flock.

If a ewe you'd wanted in lamb had such a traumatic afternoon, she'd fail to implant the embryos for sure - but there's a Someone's Law about these things... Fingers crossed she doesn't hold.  :fc:
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Thank you Sally  :) :wave:

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • Wiltshire
I think I might have had a similar mishap.  My ram lamb born in January was getting overly amorous with my Wiltshire Horn a few months ago and she seemed to be quite enjoying it!  I separated them however I keep looking at her teats and not sure if paranoid but they seem very pronounced and if I didn't know any better I'd say her udder was very slightly swollen. :'(
I was looking to re-home her but now a bit concerned as don't want to pass any problems onto someone else and not sure if that cross will have difficulty lambing.


  • Joined Aug 2011
I wean em at about 4 mos - they do mount in play before that, although I have one 'suspicious' looking character with rather massive b*****ks this year....

That could put a spanner in the works....


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Yes I think I'll go with 4 months in future years too  ;D   My lad was definitely not just play-acting - it was the full works  :P
Lot of things in Nature seem to be topsy-turvy this year

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus


  • Joined Feb 2010
  • Llanidloes; Powys
We had exactly the same experience last weekend.
There was some bleating and head butting going on and then I noticed our only tup lamb mounting.... somebody..... not sure who... but he's been banished to the next door paddock now :-(
Interestingly trhere seemed to be a bit of a power struggle between two of the ewes after that. iI wonder if the ram had been keeping the pecking order under control - even though he's a baby - he was the only boy.
We do the best we can with the information we have

When we know better we do better


  • Joined Feb 2012
  • South Lincolnshire
Just been looking at your website Fleecewife. Your Hebs are beautiful but then I expect you know that already!

Breeders of registered pedigree British Gotland sheep.


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