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Author Topic: Newbie weaning question  (Read 2518 times)

cambee

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • High Peak
Newbie weaning question
« on: June 06, 2017, 08:10:05 am »
Hi in our small flock total of 7 we have a mum and her 2 lambs that we bought in, one ewe lamb and one Tup lamb. We don't yet have our own Tup. The lambs will be 4 months old today so need to think about how to wean them. Everything that I've read says take the mum away, leave the lambs where they are so here are my questions. If I take mum away I know she has to be on poor ground to dry up but we haven't got any poor ground as there's lots of grass even where we have horses grazing. Thinking about putting her in a stable with hay? Would we have to put one of the other sheep with her for company and how long would she have to stay away? Secondly, I've then got to factor in separating the Tup lamb. How soon do I need to do that? We don't have any other male to put him with yet so could he go in with our 3 goats? The plan was to send him for meat eventually though I'm wondering now if I shouldn't have had him castrated so he could be company for the breeding Tup that we are going to have to buy in over the next months. The sheep are pedigrees and he's not registered so no use as a breeder. Please can people advise as getting myself in a tizzy! Thank you

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Newbie weaning question
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2017, 09:44:24 am »
I'm in the same situation and don't have any poor ground to put my ewes on, so the plan is to bring them in for a week on straw (not hay) instead, with a mineral lick too. Is the ram lamb castrated or not? If so he can stay on the ewe longer, and still be a friend for the ram you buy. If not I would wean him soon and put him in the freezer as he will otherwise be left on his own when the ram goes in for tupping since you say he isn't for breeding. For such a small amount of ewes though I would see if you can hire a ram, takes a lot of hassle away for the rest of the year.

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Newbie weaning question
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2017, 09:57:14 am »
The advisability of putting ewes on poor grazing does rather depend on how old the lambs are.  We lambed over the last three weeks of March and the lambs are rarely suckling from their dams now.  They will be officially weaned when the oldest ones are 16 weeks and, yes, the ewes will be put on the poorest grazing we have but they will dry up quite quickly anyway.  Milk production is regulated by suckling, not grazing.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Newbie weaning question
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2017, 12:16:21 pm »
Your entire ram lamb does need to be taken off the dam by 4 1/2 months, but ewe lambs can stay until tupping - the dams will wean them themselves by about 5 or 6 months.  This allows the ewes to dry up gradually so no need to put them on poor grazing, and instead they can put on condition before tupping time, on good grass.  The difficulty is the entire ram lamb - next time, castrate before 7 days with a rubber ring - saves an awful lot of bother later. At what age are lambs of your breed sent for slaughter?  I would think that until then he would be ok in with goats, as long as he has no access to their hard feed, which I believe is unsuitable for male sheep.
When we have had to wean all lambs, we have found that the easiest way is not the recommended 'take the lambs as far from the dams as you can on your land' method.  This causes stress to both ewes and lambs, as sheep can hear for long distances, so shout to each other for days.  Instead we put the lambs in an adjoining field, with just a wire stock fence dividing them.  That way, they can still be close to their dams, and even cosy up together through the fence, but they can't suckle.  As by that age lambs are no longer hanging around their mothers anyway, this method works well - no shouting and stress at all.  For our tup lambs coming off at 4 1/2 months, they have to go across the road anyway to be in with the stock tups, and they do call for a few hours, but not for days as ewe lambs would.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

milliebecks

  • Joined Sep 2015
Re: Newbie weaning question
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2017, 03:13:34 pm »
Quote
Your entire ram lamb does need to be taken off the dam by 4 1/2 months

Why is that Fleecewife? Is it the 4 1/2 months that's important, or the fact that the ewes will start cycling again later on in the year?

farmers wife

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • SE Wales
Re: Newbie weaning question
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2017, 04:58:28 pm »
we most def dont have any poor ground - just separate what they mean is not a fantastic fresh pasture.  We castrate all ram lambs as soon as so be careful where he goes.  Yes put him with the goats. Dont breed with a ram lamb unless you are sure of the qualities.  You can do it but best have some experience in sheep and the breed first.  We wean in separate fields but prefer a distance from the house!!! The rest has pretty much already been said.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Newbie weaning question
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2017, 05:35:04 pm »
Quote
Your entire ram lamb does need to be taken off the dam by 4 1/2 months

Why is that Fleecewife? Is it the 4 1/2 months that's important, or the fact that the ewes will start cycling again later on in the year?


Depending on the breed, male lambs could become fertile that early.  probably not, but we prefer to be safe, as we breed breeding stock for registration, so we need to know parentage of lambs.  Most ewes don't start cycling until later in the season, but they haven't read the books, so every now and then you can be sure one will.  For many breeders unexpected lambs in the winter are a problem - unexpected, so the dams not fed a pre-lambing regime, shepherd not there to check lambing going ok, no grass to give dam milk or for the lamb - general chaos  :D
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Newbie weaning question
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2017, 06:36:19 pm »
Don't put tup lamb in with goats if one of them has horns and the other not....

zwartbles

  • Joined Sep 2011
Re: Newbie weaning question
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2017, 03:32:58 am »
Take him in to the vet to be castrated if you want to keep him. Won't cost much.

cambee

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • High Peak
Re: Newbie weaning question
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2017, 06:41:20 am »
Thank you all for very useful bits of advice. I think I know how I will wean now. As regards the Tup lamb, the goats are horned so that's a no-no then. The idea when we bought in the ewe with the 2 lambs at foot was that the ewe and her lamb would be for breeding (both registered) and he would go for meat but he's still rather small for that . So I started thinking maybe we should have him castrated instead and keep him as a companion for a ram. Does anyone have an idea of the cost of that? (If we have our own tup lambs next year I will definitely rubber band straight away as they will be for meat only) I could put him in with the horses? Twizzel we did think of hiring a ram but were advised by one of the prize winners at a show to buy an older ram not hire as the better rams don't get hired out. Learning as we go along! We are looking soon at a 5 year old ram for sale at a reasonable price as soon as he is sheared. What did other people do when they started out?

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Newbie weaning question
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2017, 07:51:55 am »
Do you have 2 separate fields?  I'd just put the lambs onto clean grazing with other sheep and leave the ewe on the pasture she's already been grazing. What condition is the ewe in? If she's carrying enough weight you could leave the ewe lamb with her, if she's looking a bit tired I'd take the lamb off and let her dry up. Ideally I'd put the ewe onto poor grazing but if you don't have any you just have to do your best.

As to Rams, I agree with you, I don't know anyone who would hire his best rams out. Someone who hires rams out also comented on another thread that his hired out rams are culled when they come back. Most flocks that retain ewe lambs for breeding only keep rams for 2 years, so older rams can be brought from them at a good price. I'd buy my own, rather than have to rely on other people.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Newbie weaning question
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2017, 07:58:07 am »
We had a ram lamb surgically castrated last year by the vet, cost about 40. But it varies hugely and best to get a quote before the vet arrives. Our ram lamb turned out to be a rig too. I see what you mean about hiring a ram, guess it just depends what you want out of it- pedigree show stock is different to commercial meat lambs. We hired a ram from a fiend last year and have been really chuffed with the lambs we got but they are commercial meat lambs not pedigree stock.

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Newbie weaning question
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2017, 09:15:18 am »
I agree with you, I don't know anyone who would hire his best rams out. Someone who hires rams out also comented on another thread that his hired out rams are culled when they come back.

Probably me.  I hire out pedigree, registered  shearling rams and occasionally ram lambs, as a service to folks with a small flock, most of whom bought their original ewe lambs from me.  It also adds a small amount of profit to them before they go to cull.  I don't know of anyone else who does this though, and we only do it for our Southdowns, not for our Badger Face.

 

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