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Author Topic: When to slaughter livestock  (Read 3223 times)

bluewatersailor06

  • Joined Oct 2013
When to slaughter livestock
« on: October 11, 2017, 02:27:08 pm »
Hi

I am really hoping to get some advice on stock management and when to slaughter livestock.

We have a flock of Ryelands sheep which we are raising for meat, wool and maybe in the future to breed and sell eventually as a starter flocks for others.  We love all our sheep and spend time with them each day and know them by name!

So far we have slaughtered 2 tup lambs for meat as they were a good size but some of this years lambs (tups and ewes) are very small (even runty). 

1.  Whenever I see photos of Ryelands I see big beasts not tiny runty things. Has anyone else got small runty lambs? Do they ever grow to a more standard size?

2.  I now know the tup we used has thrown some other small lambs elsewhere should I not use him again or do all flocks have a proportion of small sheep?

3. For the tups lambs do I :-
a) Feed them through the winter and see if they grow it a more standard size and slaughter them later?  Or
b) Slaughter then now as it maybe cheaper than feeding them through the winter and they will never get to a more breed standard size.

4.  Should I decide now that the ewe lambs are not fit to breed from and therefore they should be culled them from my flock?

This will be a very very tough call but as smallholders we do not have the land or finances to support pets.

All advice gratefully received.

Thank you in advance.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2017, 02:40:42 pm »
First off you need to find out why they are small- fluke, worm burden, coccidiosis, lack of grass, mineral deficiency all can cause stunted growth. Or if they were born small and runty then look at your ewes and the nutrition they get over pregnancy. Then you need to see how many sheep your ground will take through winter- if the lambs compromise the ewes' feed throughout winter then I would get rid now, even if through the store ring at market. This summer hasn't been good for lambs- we were luckily and got all our lambs away before the wet weather came, but since mid august a lot of lambs have struggled to thrive due to the wet weather and water content in the grass. As to using the ram again- if you aren't happy then don't use him. Our small flock had very even sized lambs and all were killed within 5 weeks of each other.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 02:42:22 pm by twizzel »

Sbom

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Staffordshire
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2017, 02:41:21 pm »
Are they just small in physical size for your breed or small as in thin and therefore not grown well?

If small and thin I'd look at reasons for that ...worms, fluke etc

If it's your breed strain that's small then buy a bigger tup!

Crossed threads with Twizzel!


bluewatersailor06

  • Joined Oct 2013
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2017, 03:04:56 pm »
Thanks Twizzel and Sbom for your replies - they are not thin (in fact the opposite) but just very small for the breed.  About half are smaller than average.

They have been treated for worm and fluke (precaution) and have access to a large area of grassland as well as mineral lick.  So I do not think it is nutrition or parasites but genetics.

I would be really interested in hearing from anyone with Ryelands if you have had similar problems and what you have done about it.

Thanks.



twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2017, 03:15:22 pm »
If the grassland is poor that won't help- what kind of grass is it? Old permanent pasture or new ryegrass leys, the difference in quality will be huge. Were they born small? Or did they just fail to thrive? What were they treated with for worms and fluke?

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2017, 03:35:25 pm »
Start at the beginning: were the ewes in good condition at tupping?  Did they have good grass through pregnancy, were they scanned and were those with twins fed more in the run up to lambing?  What were they fed and how much?  Were the lambs small at birth?  What was the weather like in the first few weeks after lambing?  Did you continue to feed the ewes for several weeks after turn out?  Did your grass grow well all through the Spring, Summer and Autumn?   Were the lambs small at birth?  Were all the ewes milking well?  Did all the lambs receive a good feed of colostrum (natural or powdered) within six hours of birth?  How old were the lambs when they were weaned?

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2017, 04:09:11 pm »
I think it depends on a lot of things. When were they born, how good was the grazing, how old were they when wormed and how often they've been wormed etc etc.

Mine (Lleyn) were born in April and for one reason or another haven't grown as quickly as I'd of liked this year. One batch is ready now. I'll need to feed the second batch and hope to get away in 6-8 weeks and the final batch will prob be ready early next year.

I don't know Ryland but a lot of lambs will take a lot longer to get to the 40kg than you'd think. There's no point slaughtering them now if their not a good weight or condition. If you don't want to keep them over the winter sell them cheaply online and let someone else fatten them up.

bluewatersailor06

  • Joined Oct 2013
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2017, 04:16:39 pm »
Thanks to everyone for their questions. Really appreciate focus on why they are small (definitely points for me to look at for this season) but in my position would you keep them (adjust nutrition / parasite approach) or slaughter them?

Hi Twizzel
1. The grassland is upland grass hillside - but not rough grazing. There is masses of it for the numbers we have but it is not lovely new ryegrass pasture either. (we are hoping to reseed a paddock next year)

2. Were they born small?  No all good healthy sizes and weights
Or did they just fail to thrive? Either they have had a parasite load, insufficient nutrition (although they are tubby little things not scrawny) or it is genetics.

3. What were they treated with for worms and fluke? They have been treated with Combinex and then Cydectin (so twice in 6 months).

Thanks for all the questions Marches Farmer - here are the answers:-
1. were the ewes in good condition at tupping? Yes, all in good condition
 2. Did they have good grass through pregnancy? Yes good grass - put to pasture on hay field, permanent grassland and supplementary fed
3. Were they scanned and were those with twins fed more in the run up to lambing?  No we have a very small flock and did not scan.  We had the history of each Ewe and gave extra fed as their condition required.
4. What were they fed and how much?  grass, hay, sheep crunch. we weigh the food based on the number of animals and age / condition in each paddock.
5. Were the lambs small at birth?  No they all were equal in size
6. What was the weather like in the first few weeks after lambing?  Cold and wet
7. Did you continue to feed the ewes for several weeks after turn out?  Yes
8. Did your grass grow well all through the Spring, Summer and Autumn? 
9.  Were the lambs small at birth?  No they all were equal in size
10. Were all the ewes milking well?  Yes - with such a small flock so close to the house we check them regualarly
11. Did all the lambs receive a good feed of colostrum (natural or powdered) within six hours of birth?  Yes definitely either from mum or artificially
12. How old were the lambs when they were weaned?  They have not be separated from ewes


Thanks bj_cardiff - good advice I am sure.  I think we will focus on nutrition and worms/flukes for these and next seasons and see if that makes a difference.  If not will have a total rethink - perhaps wrong breed for the location.

I have seen Ryelands from amazing southern grassland pastures and they look like Arnie compared with some of ours :(!

Sbom

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Staffordshire
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2017, 04:23:26 pm »
Can you post a picture of them? Might help if we can see what you mean by small and scrawny!

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2017, 04:28:10 pm »
I would keep them for the winter to kill in the spring providing you have enough ground for them separate from the ram and ewes (assuming you're going to tup this autumn). If you think the ground won't take the lambs, ewes/ram and have enough grass for lambing, I'd get them gone into the store ring at market. You could kill them but with kill/cut costs expensive it might not be worth doing. The grass is full of water at the moment so although it may look like there's a lot to eat, it might be fairly low in energy and protein. You could always put a energy and protein feed block out with them if you decide to keep over the winter.


We had cold, wet weather post lambing which really wasn't ideal but the lambs (poll dorset x lleyn) were happy and ewes very milky. I did read a while ago that unweaned lambs tend to get 2nd pick of the grazing, as they tend to graze behind their mothers. Whether that's true or not I'm not sure as I weaned my lambs when the first lot were drawn out in July.

silkwoodzwartbles

  • Joined Apr 2016
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2017, 05:27:11 pm »
I've got four runty lambs left too which is very annoying as the other 3 grew well, one is being retained and the other two were slaughtered 3 weeks ago. The weather here is changing now and we need to rest as much ground as possible for the keepers so I've brought them into a big shed with a big bale of hay and they'll be getting fed twice a day now. Hopefully they'll be ready to go in a month.

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2017, 06:02:49 pm »
Might it be worth getting a sample blood-tested.   Failure to thrive could be something like Pine (cobalt deficiency).

Big Light

  • Joined Aug 2011
    • Facebook
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2017, 06:56:09 pm »
Yup without seeing them if They are not thriving on grass a selenium cobalt lick might benefit them along with a mineral dose

Sbom

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Staffordshire
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2017, 06:58:16 pm »
Cobalt deficiency often presents with scabby ears..

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: When to slaughter livestock
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2017, 09:53:09 pm »
As Sbom says, it would be useful to see pictures.  As you are inexperienced, it is possible that what you are seeing as tubby sheep is in fact pot-bellied lambs with distended rumens but not much real flesh.

Another good test is to squeeze the sides of their tails; how much flesh is there over the bones?  If you look up 'sheep condition score' you will find several places to check for how lean, fat or just right your sheep are.  The Eblex chart is here
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

 

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