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Author Topic: Best to breed ewes every year or can they have a year off?  (Read 4066 times)

kate7590

  • Joined Jun 2014
  • Powys
Best to breed ewes every year or can they have a year off?
« on: December 07, 2014, 03:30:44 pm »
Is there any reason ewes shouldn't be given a years 'rest' between lambs? We've only got 1 ram and 2 ewes, who are due to lamb in Feb. We've not got a huge amount of grazing so don't want to get 'over run' too soon which could maybe happen if they bred each year, so was wondering if its feasible to breed the ewes every other year instead. At least then we can decide if we want more lambs or not come the autumn.
Thanks very much.

PS- What age can ewes be bred until approx? We have Jacobs, if that makes a difference?

Thanks again
Living the 'Good Life' in our little Chapel in the rural welsh countryside.
Proud owner of 3 Border Collies, Giant Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Chickens, Runner Ducks, 3 'pet sheep' &  Jacob Sheep.
Loving life :)

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Best to breed ewes every year or can they have a year off?
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2014, 03:46:39 pm »
No reason at all so long as you can keep them separate for 5-6mths, some ewes can go to amazing lengths to get at a ram or vice versa .  And a ewe can breed as long as she is fit and healthy, don't worry about teeth as once all front teeth are gone ewes do very well

Gunnermark

  • Joined Sep 2011
Re: Best to breed ewes every year or can they have a year off?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2014, 04:30:05 pm »
Just watch the ewes don't get to big else they may not be able to get in lamb.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Best to breed ewes every year or can they have a year off?
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2014, 04:43:35 pm »
The concern would be that they get overfat in their 'year off'.  Then they get stuck on their backs, get strucken, won't breed, etc. 

So I'd be inclined to strive to have enough sheep to use the land you have got, no less and no more. If you want lawnmowers who don't breed, that's fine, but have enough of them so they don't get fat. 

What breed are your sheep?  And how much grazing have you got?
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

kate7590

  • Joined Jun 2014
  • Powys
Re: Best to breed ewes every year or can they have a year off?
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2014, 05:30:32 pm »
We have Jacobs, only the 2 ewes and 1 ram at the moment.
There is about 5 acres of pasture and 4 acres of woodland (which we are hoping to secure in the new year so they can go in there and the field, which should restrict their grazing a bit)
Living the 'Good Life' in our little Chapel in the rural welsh countryside.
Proud owner of 3 Border Collies, Giant Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Chickens, Runner Ducks, 3 'pet sheep' &  Jacob Sheep.
Loving life :)

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Best to breed ewes every year or can they have a year off?
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2014, 07:42:33 pm »
As a rule of thumb, an acre of good grass can carry 5 ewes. BIG rule of thumb of course and influenced by many factors but 5 acres plus the woodland if it has grass in it is way, way more than enough for three sheep.

And Jacob tup lambs - not sure if they will finish in the year they're born? But will be away by the time the following year's lambs are eating grass, I'd guess.

Loads of folk with way more experience than me but we had one ewe that didn't get in lamb; we ran her on until the next year and gave her a second go and she didn't get in lamb then either. She's now pies - but we called her Big Fat Nellie and I'm sure having a year off breeding albeit unplanned by us, meant that she was too fat to get in lamb the next year.

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Best to breed ewes every year or can they have a year off?
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2014, 07:50:44 pm »
We regularly have ewes raise twins successfully when they're up to 13 years old, so 11 crops of lambs.  I think maintaining the correct condition through what will actually be two lamb-free years would be a challenge for an experienced shepherd.  You may be able to manage if you restrict their grazing when the grass is growing well and/or top the grass regularly and/or take a good crop of hay or let a neighbouring farmer take a crop of haylage.  I would guess Jacobs, being similar in many ways to our Badger Face, would be most likely to have singles, in which case you'd have to be very careful they didn't have very large lambs as a result of being fat.  A large single often leads to a much more difficult lambing than twins or triplets.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Best to breed ewes every year or can they have a year off?
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2014, 05:37:57 pm »
I regularly let a few ewes "have a year off" if I think their condition isn't quite what I want it to be, and so far have had good sets of twins the following year. BUT - these ewes will NOT get ANY hard feed through the winter, obviously have hay ad lib if/when necessary and also no flushing/feeding up prior to tupping. I don't feed through the summer anyway.

I have only Shetlands now, but have also done this with the odd commercial X ewe.

However with 5acres plus you have way too much grass for three sheep (even with a few lambs next summer)... better get a good topper and/or someone who is willing to cut some hay for you!

kate7590

  • Joined Jun 2014
  • Powys
Re: Best to breed ewes every year or can they have a year off?
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2014, 09:35:13 pm »
Thanks for all replies.

We have split the pasture up, it is now 2 paddocks of just over an acre a piece. and the 'top field' of about 2 1/2 acres.
They are all in one of the smaller acre paddocks just now.
Living the 'Good Life' in our little Chapel in the rural welsh countryside.
Proud owner of 3 Border Collies, Giant Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Chickens, Runner Ducks, 3 'pet sheep' &  Jacob Sheep.
Loving life :)

waterbuffalofarmer

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: Best to breed ewes every year or can they have a year off?
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2014, 10:54:18 am »
I had two ewes which I never put them with the ram and when they went in with he ram only 1 got in lamb, we have kept the other one and I think she is in lamb
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.

 

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