Thursday, July 06, 2006

when to cull a ewe....really!

Along the same theme, getting your flock to where you want it, is the question of culling.
Now, I know this word is harsh. If we decide to cull, we are actually pulling the trigger...even though we don't have to physically do the deed.
I don't like to cull ewes...I have said that. I mean it too.
But what can we do if a ewe is bad for our flock? Is that ewe likely to be any better for someone elses flock? OK....sometimes, there is a reason the ewe might be helpful to another flock.
If someone is just starting to breed a flock of sheep. They may want to get a ewe....for whatever reason she is not a great ewe....but all they need is a ewe to breed once. If there is nothing physically wrong with our ewe, maybe she just needs a second chance. We can sell her cheap.
Examples: a ewe who didn't lamb well the first time....a ewe who doesn't fit well in a flock...the flock is too large, or too small for her personality. ...a ewe who doesn't like you, but maybe would like the next shepherd.
Maybe you have too many grey ewes. They aren't necessarily bad, they are just the wrong could try to sell that ewe to someone who could use a grey...or a black...or whatever color is over-whelming your flock.

What about flighty ewes?....the same reasons might save a ewe if she has a good fleece and tail...and legs....but you had better warn that new breeder, or the ewe will wind up being on their don't want list for the same reason. Now, yes, in that case you saved the ewe...but did you really help out that other shepherd?....or would they have been better off buying a ewe from someone else....and getting a keeper.
What are the reasons we might cull a ewe?....birthing problems that could be genetic....prolapse. Bad teeth/jaw.....dam throws really bad horns, so does the daughter....twin is malformed.
BAD tails....rebred and still bad tails. Even bred to a third ram...still a bad not only have to get rid of a ewe...but you may have culled a number of rams...and had to find some spinner who didn't care about the lamb's tail.
There must be a number of spinners out there who don't care about long as they like the fleece...otherwise folks wouldn't wether their ram lambs. is a spot you have to think out for yourself. Our breed allows for different type fleeces.....the ewes do often grow a harsher fleece when they get older, too. So think about what you need to do with fleeces. If you are selling them what sells best?.....are you stuck with all your black fleeces?....why are you breeding black sheep then? If you are selling grey fleeces, but don't like grey sheep you could have a conflict.
What is the bottom line for your many sheep can you take care of? many lambs can you sell? many lambs can you cull? Can you sell bred ewes to a new shepherd and move adults? How many fleeces can you much roving? much yarn?

Maybe we should do it the other way?
Who is your best sheep?
Who is your next best? you really need the rest of those sheep? If you would be happier with fewer sheep. Decide who CAN be sold....then decide the last date you will take care of that sheep before culling them....then try to sell that sheep....just that one....if she/he or it doesn't sell by that gave them a chance.....try to work on another salable sheep.....maybe in a month...maybe in 6 months you will have a few sheep you just can't sell, and you just don't want to keep...for whatever reason. Those are culls.
Now you can decide if you want to sell the meat...use it yourself? Get the skin and have it tanned for a rug? Have a big barbecue? Cry all the way to the market? It doesn't matter, really....we are the way we are. However sometimes the world would just be better off without that fence jumping, knee butting, lamb losing...ear-back ewe out in the garden. I won't hold it against you....send her spirit on, and celebrate a flock without her! Looks better already doesn't it?


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