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Author Topic: Mating ewe lambs?  (Read 2368 times)

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
  • Leicester
Mating ewe lambs?
« on: October 04, 2016, 08:00:11 pm »
Just out of interest - can you mate soay or Shetland ewe lambs or are they too tiny and should wait till next year?
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Mating ewe lambs?
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2016, 11:52:33 pm »
I had fencing issues last year and as a result I can tell you that in my experience, Shetland and Shetland X hoggs make super little mums :). All but one took, one aborted late on but was fine in herself.  No lambing issues and no mothering issues amongst the all-primitives - all lambed outdoors, did everything themselves, very attentive mothers.  All reared a single lamb without problems, and finished the summer with cracking lambs and good condition on the mothers.  (I did cake them lightly throughout, mind, as they were hoggs.). The 1/4 Manxes were particularly impressive - two of them each had a super pair of twins, reared them well, and the mothers grew on well themselves too.  (I'm actually very impressed with Manx crosses - the offspring seem to be larger than either parent.)

I'll still give them the extra year to grow when I have the choice, though.  ;)
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 cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Big Light

  • Joined Aug 2011
    • Facebook
Re: Mating ewe lambs?
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2016, 05:54:13 am »
we have had a couple of heb ewe lambs caught by accident yes they do lamb and rear a lamb but the sheep never catches up with it's peers and ends up being a runt in the flock as it's providing for a lamb rather than growing it's self. In the commercial world they reckon you should really only breed from ewe lambs over 40kg - albeit a soay will never reach that - Given a choice i wouldn't

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Mating ewe lambs?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2016, 09:07:32 am »
we have had a couple of heb ewe lambs caught by accident yes they do lamb and rear a lamb but the sheep never catches up with it's peers and ends up being a runt in the flock as it's providing for a lamb rather than growing it's self. In the commercial world they reckon you should really only breed from ewe lambs over 40kg - albeit a soay will never reach that - Given a choice i wouldn't

The 40kg is not an absolute figure, but a percentage.  The Eblex guidance (linky) states that ewe lambs should be 60% of their mature weight at tupping.  So a commercial ewe whose adult weight is 70kgs should be 42kgs at tupping. 

If an adult Soay is 25kgs, then a ewe lamb should be 15kgs at tupping.

Some of the other tips in the Eblex document are to feed pregnant ewe lambs 20% more concentrate than you would pregnant ewes, through gestation and lactation.  And to creep feed the lambs, and wean the lambs no later than 14 weeks.  It also suggests taking any second lambs off, so that ewe lambs are only rearing single lambs - and to feed more concentrate if they are rearing twins, and potentially, if the lambs are eating enough creep, wean as early as 8 or 9 weeks.

They did not find that breeding ewe lambs adversely affected lifetime performance, indeed the opposite.  The studies did not cover primitive breeds, however.

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 cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Mating ewe lambs?
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2016, 11:14:31 am »
Nature will tell you if they are ready - if they hold their pregnancy then they are ready, if not they aren't :).


60% of their liveweight is a good guide.  I have BWMs and although not primitive they are smaller than the average ewe and I've never had a ewe lamb not to take.


Look after them over winter - you should give them preferential treatment all winter if you can.  If you only have a small flock then it makes that a bid harder I know.  They are better not separated from the main flock though through winter, and especially at lambing time.  Once lambed feed them well, for 8 weeks (you can separate them at this point if needed).


They make great mums.

 

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