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Author Topic: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle  (Read 10158 times)

Buffy the eggs layer

  • Joined Jun 2010
Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« on: May 15, 2013, 05:45:46 pm »
Hi,
     has anyone adjusted their lambing cycle from march lambing to january lambing? I would like to lamb earlier next year than I did last year but I'm thinking I will have to do it incrementally over a couple of years.
   I want to use one of this years ram lambs on my shearlings and as he was born at the end of march Im thinking that the end of Sept would be the earliest thet he would be ready. Equally the ewes that lambed this year at the end of march will need to wean the lambs off, dry up and then be flushed so probably end of Oct?
Any thoughts? :thinking:

horlicks

  • Joined Dec 2012
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2013, 06:52:47 pm »
Moved from april to february this year &  ewes seemed to cope ok without much of a break in between weaning and tupping.You could take the lambs off a bit earlier this year to help them recover although depending on breed lambing in jan could effect %.         
 The biggest downside was the very long wait for grass to start growing this year after using up my own haylage and having to feed cake for so long. Would certainly need to get lambs away at a good price to make it worthwhile.

ZaktheLad

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Thornbury, Nr Bristol
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2013, 08:21:38 pm »
I have decided to go for a month later next year and lamb around Easter time in April.  I lambed in March this year but the weather was pants, as was the lack of any grass whatsoever.  I really like to get my lambs out after a couple of days and hope that mid April next year will give me a better chance of this.  However, looking at the current weather I don't think any month in early Spring can be relied upon now to provide nice weather.  I have lambed in January before, but the extra straw, feed and the length of time keeping everything in and clean was not something I want to repeat in a hurry. 

Bramblecot

  • Joined Jul 2008
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2013, 08:23:44 pm »
I am timing mine for when the clocks go forward - that extra hour of daylight just makes life so much easier.  And, hopefully, the weather a little warmer :fc: .

SheepCrazy!

  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Dumfries and Galloway
  • www.hawthornsoaysandjacobs.co.uk
    • hawthornsoaysandjacobs
    • Facebook
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2013, 12:11:41 am »


If you talk to your vet they can insert sponges  into the ewes which release hormones, drugs are also injected to help make the ewes come into heat, the sponges are removed at a certain time say 10am and the you wait a few days I think and put out the tup at 10am. The ewes should be in season and willing to mate. The tup has to be ready and able though to!

Excuse the approximate details as its years since I've seen it done, but I'm considering trying it this year as the bad weather at tupping time extended my lambing well beyond my holiday from work. The ewes should all lamb within 6days of there due date.

Hopefully I might avoid the dreaded midge too. :relief: But not the bill

Buffy the eggs layer

  • Joined Jun 2010
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2013, 04:23:35 pm »
Thanks for your thoughts on this one. You are right about the availability of grass with the later lambing. Perhaps Jan is a bit too early. Its just that I keep a pure breed and other breeders seem to lamb much earlier than me which means their ram lambs show better through the summer and sell better in the autum as they have a 12 week head start on mine.
Your comments are all very valid though as my lambs grow very big and solid from the amount of fresh new grass that they and their mothers eat. I guess you would have to shovel cake down the ewes to achive the same effect as sunshine and good grass. Plus keeping them inside is never really going to do them as much good as getting them out and about.
I lambed from the 26th March to 29th this year so perhaps I should just try for early march next year and see what the winter weather throws at me.

Bramblecot

  • Joined Jul 2008
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2013, 05:21:36 pm »
Btel,

I think a lot depends on what facilities you have.

This year I allowed mine free access to a large area of a barn and most of the ewes made good use of it.  Some chose to lamb inside, some in the shelter of the barn but outside.  I put up 6 pens along one wall and put the new lambs and mum inside for a few nights depending on the size of the lambs.  In bad weather the lambs took themselves in there in little groups and picked their favourite spots to sleep.
But if I was lambing outside, I would stick to a later lambing.
Also heard in the ag store today that a lot of the early flocks had the dreaded SBV.  Staff member said one client had lost thousands of lambs.  A neighbour of mine has lost an estimated 40% of lambs from a Feb. lambing :( .
But if you want lambs for showing....it has to be an early lambing ;)

onnyview

  • Joined Dec 2009
    • onnyview free range produce
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2013, 08:19:30 pm »
You can also use a melatonin implant which can bring your ewes into oestrous up to two months early. Not sure but I think the sponges just synchronise the lambing. If you use the implants you need to make sure your tup is ready too, so a down breed would be needed. The implant is called regulin.

Onnyview free range produce- Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, Hill Radnor and Llanwenog sheep.

www.onnyview.moonfruit.com

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2013, 08:41:59 am »
If there was a year I wouldn't give the ewes less rest after lambing it is 2013 - 2012 was hard enough on the ewes as it is.


Showing is a fun hobby, but I wouldn't put extra pressure on your ewes just to take part in it.

Buffy the eggs layer

  • Joined Jun 2010
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2013, 11:28:06 am »
Actually Steve showing sheep is an integral part of promoting rare and minority breeds as well as marketing flocks with stock for sale. It may be a hobby for yourself but it is an essental part of a marketing plan for many who make money from their sheep and are committed to developing and increasing interest in their breed.
I'm sorry to hear that your ewes had a hard year as mine didnt. My ewes went into tupping in very good condition. I had lots of grass as I under stock, no snow and very little frost. I feed and give addlib hay to my ewes, fertilise and lime my pasture and reserve pasture to ensure the ewes and lambs have access to fresh grass as soon as they are born. I have field shelters, dry ground and a large lambing shed which leads to a sheltered pasture so my sheep are all on top form.
Changing the lambing cycle to finish lambs earlier in the year has a number of advantages for shepherds who sell their stock or slaughter for the freezer in addition to showing so I think its something that will be concidering.
 

sabrina

  • Joined Nov 2008
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2013, 12:05:45 pm »
Around me lambing seems to start February now but it is done inside. Seems that the farmers get good prices for lambs that are ready to go July. Last year we had an early Spring so grass grew well but this year due to poor weather farmers have struggled to feed ewes and lambs which is all extra cost. All that needs to be taken into account if you plan to lamb early. Here we are well into May and grass is still slow to come on.

feldar

  • Joined Apr 2011
  • lymington hampshire
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2013, 01:27:24 pm »
We show, and get our lambs off early to catch the Easter market. It was a lot harder this year due to the weather and yes you do have to feed cake as the grass is just not there.
The showing is to a certain extent our shop window although for our breed i would say we sell most from the farm gate via reputation than from the show ring.
if you can pull your lambs off a little early then sponge you should be ok to bring them forward for an earlier lambing. but looking at the grass we have now, it's got to be easier to lamb later and save yourself the feed bill. I know ours was almost crippling this year :(

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2013, 03:04:19 pm »
I feed and give addlib hay to my ewes, fertilise and lime my pasture and reserve pasture to ensure the ewes and lambs have access to fresh grass as soon as they are born. I have field shelters, dry ground and a large lambing shed which leads to a sheltered pasture so my sheep are all on top form.


....and this is why showing is a fun hobby that has nothing whatsoever to do with commercial sheep farming. Commercial flocks simply cannot be run on this basis and make money. This is why buyers are turning to things like EBVs when buying rams and buying off-farm from breeders who have built reputations.


I like to see sheep shown but on a commercial basis they only serve as an example of what can be achieved when sheep are fred concs and cabbages and often, are helped at birth. I was gobsmacked talking to a terminal sire breeder once at how many ceasarians they consider to be acceptable.


2012 was widely agreed to be the worst year for British farming since 1962 and even if you were feeding your sheep even then the sheep had to endure the weather and the worms. I live in an area least-affected by the poor weather, stock at 3 ewes/ac in summer, 1-1.5/ac in winter and, by happy accident put my rams in 2 weeks late so that I started lambing April 15th. I didn't lose any in the snow like so many farmers did and I didn't have to feed until early April like most farmers did, my ground is pretty much fluke-free and I didn't have any problems in what has been considered to be the worst year for fluke in the last century.


Even with all those things in my favour, 2012 was a very hard year on my sheep, and if it wasn't on yours then you are in the tiny minority. The fallen stock companies had to cart tens of thousands of dead sheep in the upland areas of this country, as some posters on here will attest.


I would argue that showing has been to the detriment of most breeds - even the rare ones and especially those which have something to offer the national flock in terms of thrift (primitives and so on) and ease of lambing as these cannot be judged for in the ring. It is not a hobby for me, I only have two recognised 'breeds' of sheep, the rest are composites and I am not interested in breeding them for any of the attributes that win rosettes in the show ring.


Look at the post above mine - Feldar is in my area so will have had similar weather to me and shows sheep, lambs indoors and has had to feed extensiveley etc and has also had a hard year of it. Were I in the market for a Hampshire Down as a terminal sire, I would go and look at her stock over because of reputation rather than rosettes. I would certainly be very very puzzled if I spoke to a breeder who claimed that their sheep were in top nick after 2012.

thenovice

  • Joined Oct 2011
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2013, 09:24:50 pm »
That was a very sound argument Steve, and has confirmed my intention to lamb in April  :thumbsup:

ShaunP

  • Joined Dec 2009
    • Timber Chalets and Lodges
Re: Thoughts on changing the lambing cycle
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2013, 09:46:09 pm »
I don't know Stevehants but I am always interested in what he has stay as it it is always well thought out!!!

 

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