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Author Topic: Lambing data  (Read 3865 times)

CarolineJ

  • Joined Dec 2015
  • North coast of Scotland
Lambing data
« on: April 21, 2018, 08:33:01 am »
Nearly halfway through lambing (13 out of 30 done) and I was wondering what data people find useful to record to help decide which ewe lambs to keep?

I'm currently recording sex of lamb(s), whether the ewe needed assistance and if so, how much, (these are 90% gimmers, so a couple of the bigger lambs have just needed a pull out), date born and will also record if any ewes reject lambs, though touch wood so far all have taken to mothering well. 


Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2018, 08:40:15 am »
Weight at birth is useful. We had one this year that seemed absolutely fine, but I'd never actually seen it suck, and couldn't get it interested either. However, when I re-weighed it the next day it had put on 0.5kg, so it was clear that I had been worrying about nothing!
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2018, 08:47:53 am »
Motherís history- bad feet, poor maternal ability, lack of milk, serious lambing problems, temperament are some of the things I would take into account. Hence for my first 2 years of lambing all lambs go fat until Iíve got a good idea of which ewes perform better than others.

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2018, 09:32:38 am »
assuming they're a pretty even bunch, and given that ease of lambing of mother is dependent on so many things, not least what you've fed them on, I'd keep the friendly ones.  :sunshine:
Undesirable inherited traits are bad feet, tendency to get flystruck and persistent mucky bum. I would not target keeping lambs from mothers that had these problems. Unless they were super friendly of course, :innocent:
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2018, 12:55:53 pm »
Over the years I've tried to be ruthless about which ewe lambs to keep and only keep the offspring of my best ewes, however its never gone quite to plan. I tend to keep the pet lambs, usually they are from multiple births, occasionally from ewes that had little milk, but I think that was more down to the ewes condition/age than anything genetic.

When I collect up the lambs to take a batch for sale I pick out the biggest and weigh them, quite often there are ewe lambs in that batch that are much better than any of the lambs out of my favourite ewes and I think its wise to keep the best that you've bred that year.

That's how I decide anyway!

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2018, 01:12:25 pm »
Now I'm in a much smaller way, I am trying to operate a 'one strike and you're out' policy.  But clearly a fab fleece gives you two free passes... ::)
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

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2018, 07:37:19 pm »
As has been observed I cull for pretty well everything.  If you breed from only the very best the overall standard of the flock will improve every year and the bigger the flock gets the simpler your shepherding will become. 

Sbom

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Staffordshire
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2018, 09:57:14 pm »
One that constantly escapes from electric fenced field is looked on very unfavourably here. I have one shearling that I canít put in electric at all, she will be culled if she so much as sneezes!

CarolineJ

  • Joined Dec 2015
  • North coast of Scotland
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2018, 10:33:04 pm »
As has been observed I cull for pretty well everything.  If you breed from only the very best the overall standard of the flock will improve every year and the bigger the flock gets the simpler your shepherding will become.

That's the advice I've been given by my friend with 800+ as well.  She's also ruthless with her culls and I've seen it pay off year after year in terms of straightforward lambings, healthy ewes and top prices at the sales.  I hope to emulate her on a smaller scale!

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2018, 07:12:08 am »
So...  distocia.  Is that a strike, or just a marked card?  @Marches Farmer , do you cull anyone who's needed a lot of help, anyone who's needed even a bit of help, or accept that there are all sorts of reasons for a difficult lambing and give them a second chance?  (But I'm guessing not a third.)

This is the first year I've had to help any of my fleece sheep get their lambs out, and this was just the second and third lambs coming together; Lessa (who has had triplets twice before with no problems) may well have been able to get things sorted herself but I was very conscious I'd used a tup that's bigger than she is for the first time, so I had a feel.  I just tickled the toes of the one that was behind to get it to retract, and helped the middle one to come out - very minor, and I'm not inclined to penalise Lessa, who is in all other respects a perfect ewe, for that.

However, Hatty...  she's a mahoosive girt Zwartbles, very experienced, had had a year off having lost a lot of condition rearing her lambs the year before.  So I put her to the Hebridean rather than the Romney, thinking it better she had smaller lambs in case she'd regained too much condition.  And she had an almighty jumble of three lambs all trying to come together.  I did sort them out but had thought it was going to be a vet job.  Do I breed her again?  :thinking:
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

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2018, 08:39:40 am »
Occasionally I'll have to push a lamb back to bring forward a foot or to swing round a head that's back, or do a quick pull on one that's backwards but anything more than that is a cull.  All the other stuff: scrappy lambs despite the ewe being in good condition and correctly fed; slow to mother up; milk slow to come in; prolapse; mastitis; jumping all over me to get to the trough; they all go to cull.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2018, 03:45:58 pm »
Occasionally I'll have to push a lamb back to bring forward a foot or to swing round a head that's back, or do a quick pull on one that's backwards but anything more than that is a cull.  All the other stuff: scrappy lambs despite the ewe being in good condition and correctly fed; slow to mother up; milk slow to come in; prolapse; mastitis; jumping all over me to get to the trough; they all go to cull.

Thanks, that's pretty much how I feel. 

The 'get out of jail' cards I award for fab fleeces are for things like allowing a lamb to need dagging once (when no-one else did); Quincy's rather laid-back parenting style (the lamb has to come to her, always! - but she is bellowing for it); needing a foot trim once; unexplained failure to rear a lamb as a hogg (since I couldn't be sure I hadn't missed something.). And I allow a first-timer a bit of, "Ooh, no, don't like it, feels funny" at first, but after the lamb's suckled, she'd better feed it without assistance from thereon.
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

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2018, 04:23:54 pm »
jumping all over me to get to the trough; they all go to cull.

EEEK!  I might as well just send all of ours away and start again then!  :o

Quote from: SallyintNorth
link=topic=92679.msg686361#msg686361 date=1524377528
I did sort {the triplets} out but had thought it was going to be a vet job.  Do I breed her again?  :thinking:

Logically, the only way to approach this is to try to figure out whether what happened was chance, or whether it had something to do with the ewe. If it was pure chance, then (apart from the tendency to have triplets again next year), it makes no sense to cull her#, as statistically, her replacement stands the same chance of the same upset.

If it was to do with the ewe, again, logically there are two possibilities - firstly it was the ewe's fault, or secondly it was a management error, for example over or under feeding, using the wrong tup, etc.

The trouble is, in a small flock, it's hard to get statistically significant data. For example, we had three lambs last year with inturned eyelids. That alone would have been enough for me not to use that tup again, had I not spoken to his previous owner (who I trust), who said she'd never seen it in her lambs. Sure enough, we've had no problems at all this year.

# We've been pretty brutal in culling any ewe that has problems (partly because I would never sell on a problem ewe). On one hand, I hope this will pay long term dividends. On the other hand, this means lambing lots of first timers, year after year. It also severely dents the short term productivity of the flock, because we have more hoggs kicking about not being productive for a year. There's a balance to be struck somewhere..... but where?  :thinking:
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2018, 02:54:00 pm »
Record anything that makes you have to look twice at a ewe (by twice I mean for anything other than feeding and watering it!).  Record litter size, you'd be surprised how easy it is not to spot that a particular ewe only ever has singles (assuming your ideal is for everyone to have twins).  Birth weight is useful (I do it at 24 hours, which is roughly when i tag them).  If you have birth weight then you can also do 60 day weights and 150 day weights which can help you monitor weight gain.  You can also compare birth weights with amount of concentrate fed per ewe and stuff like that.


If you are having to pull big lambs from gimmers then either a) you aren't giving them enough time to open up, b) you've over fed them making the lambs too big, or c) you've used the wrong tup, ... or d) the ewe is not fit enough.  My aim would be to never have to pull anything so if that's what you want then adjust your management to try to achieve this.  Also consider lambing as ewe-lambs - they spit out small lambs and make cracking mothers - and they are much less likely to be silly b*ggers than shearlings are :).


It helps to identify the traits that you want to keep in your flock and those that you do not. i.e. I want twins and i want ewes that aren't skitish and are easy to handle, they must be good mothers, lamb unassisted, clean bums all year, good feet, no fly strike, etc etc  Then you can record the data that will help you select based on the criteria that you want.


Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Lambing data
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2018, 03:42:41 pm »
The age and prolificacy of lambing may be influenced by breed and longevity.  I prefer to lamb them as shearlings so I don't have to worry about feeding them for their own growth as well as that of the lambs they're carrying.  Both my breeds often begin with a single then produce twins thereafter, often switching back to singles when they're older.  This is fine with us as they'll first lamb as shearlings when they're fully grown and produce at least 12 lambs over their lifetime, producing sufficient milk for the twins they have in the middle of their productive life.

 

Recording sheep data

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