Tuesday, July 24, 2007

who are you breeding?

Wow, do you realize August arrives next week?
Back to school....no, that's ingrained in all of us....September Shetland shows? Well, I suppose some of you are doing the August shows. Good, have a great time.
As I am looking around for a show string....like who's left? I am also looking at what lambs I like....and did their dams contribute to their good looks....or was it their sire?
I had a raft of lambs die this spring...all at the start of lambing. It was all older ewes...but not that old. Dayspring Panda had healthy twins at age 11.....so now I am wondering if some of those ewes need to skip a year? Do they have enough time left to breed once more? Do I love their lambs? Have I always sold their lambs....or do I have a possible replacement? I know lots of smaller breeders who never add young lambs to their flocks....you do need to. I also know lots of bigger breeders who always sell off their older girls and keep their younger ones. Well, if you are going to breed fifty ewes....wouldn't you rather have all younger ones to keep the problems scarce.
Why do you think they sell them cheaper?
I think of my ewes like people not sheep. I'll just let them spend their time enjoying life.
Do you ever skip a year breeding your sheep? Sometimes they fed big twin rams, and look a little thin in the fall....they won't pick up any weight carrying lambs until spring. I had a few last fall that I wanted to save out....they looked a little thin....hay was poor. But those girls really really wanted to have that ram....natural urges in sheep are pretty strong. This year I may have to put the unbred girls farther away from the breeding pens. It doesn't hurt to keep a ewe from breeding one year....take my advise...five years is too many. Reconsider buying that flock of ewes who haven't been bred for years...you are just buying a lot of problems.
When I record my lambs in the spring, I write what time they lambed....if there was any problem....breech, leg back, what size the lambs were..."little or big" works unless you have a scale....which would be nice....but I don't use one. How is that ewes attitude with her lambs?...Does she run off and leave them to cry? Does she mother them and control where and when they stay put? I have some wonderful moms....they keep their lambs in one place....they call for them if they stray too far. I have others that consider tending to lambs is a big chore. Does that ewe always have ewes or rams? You should have that information at hand when you make breeding plans. I know breeders who lament that in seven years they only got one set of ewes....the rest were all rams from their favorite ewe. If you had a ram year, and it hurt your bottom line...you can skip breeding that ewe. What do you get from a cull ram? If that ewe always has twin rams....add it up. Could you make enough from culling those twin rams to pay for the effort of breeding that ewe and caring for her ram lambs? Depends on your facilities...the cost of your feed and medical costs....and your cull market. If hay is going to be scarce....you may want to breed less....and keep your ewes in better condition. Concentrate on keeping your fleeces clean and make up your costs with those fleeces.
I don't know who I am breeding yet....I'm still working on a show string for the next two shows. I do breed for myself...and my interests....sometimes I want to know how that color occurs....sometimes I wonder if I could get another spot like that? My friend just mentioned that she sells sheep so she can keep breeding them. I suppose, unless you spin and knit a whole lot...that is what we all do.
I am planning to keep about a dozen ewe lambs. I don't plan to breed any of them.
Right now I am looking at my fleeces....on the sheep that is....I started out with fleeces I really liked on my spotted sheep. Then I bought a few spotted sheep. Now when you buy another breeder's sheep, you buy a lot of what they have done in their breeding plans. Some of those sheep although they have nice spots do not have the type of fleece that I like. I like intermediate...or longer double coated...but with crimp. So I am wondering if I really want to breed a ewe who doesn't have the type of fleece I like....just because she has spots. I don't think I like that idea. I do breed with a couple of single coated rams...who could perhaps add crimp....but maybe I have already tried them on that ewe and didn't like the spots or some other quality. I will have to look back on my lambing records to answer that question.
Those weaning moms and ram lambs are yelling at me. Happy July day!


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