Monday, July 30, 2007

Yes, I'm gonna !

I don't know if you were worried where my thinking was taking me last time I posted...but I was kind-a. Yes, I have some breeding plans written up. Actually I have already changed them. We were out looking for a ram over the weekend, and I parted the fleece on two of my yearlings. Whooppee....I have a couple of nicely fleeced rams. Actually, I was worried. because I have kept a few ewes just to breed fleece for a change....and I didn't keep the ram I was going to use. Usual reason, I didn't like his horns. Not that they were going into his head...just that they weren't even. You know, the old one-horn-is-closer-to-the-head problem.
Anyway my first attempt at making up breeding groups resulted in the use of a ram lamb....but no ewe lambs. I think breeding ram lambs is interesting....but I wouldn't want to depend on them for breeding anything older than a yearling ewe. For one thing sometimes those ram lambs take a long time to figure out what is expected of them. That's OK if you have ewe lambs...because they are also clueless. But, older ewes really frown on ram lambs. Did you know ewes are interested in rams with nice big horns? Yup, I have had plenty of older ewes refuse to make use of small ram lambs. So I am really happy to find some nice fleeces out in my field.
When I posted last, I had a whole list of ewes that I bought....that I really don't need to breed again. Free to good homes....come and get 'em...well, I figure most of you have some of those ewes already....because I had no takers...even if folks were already here. Oh well, I'm not like those other breeders...."get them out of here or they will go for meat" sales. I am not threatening to butcher these girls....I am just saying I see nothing to induce me to breed them again....after a few years these ewes will not be breedable, without problems. And ewes like to have babies.
They do get a little iritated with me when I send those babies to new homes.

So back to my list of breding ewes. Yes, I wrote down the ewes that look too thin....the ones that always give me ram lambs....and the ones that have never had an exciting spotted lamb for me either. That left 35 ewes on my breeding list. Not bad for the size of my flock....I won't be breeding for auction nice usda facility just decided to fine me 15 cents a pound for any shetlands I bring them. Well that won't be happening. Since they are also fining barbados owners....I figure they had some problem handling shetlands and other intelligent breeds.
So then I was thinking of the number of lambs that could result from breeding 35 ewes.
That may be more than I want to keep for myself. So I looked again. Now I have a few girls who I think are really nice sheep. I have tried to keep their lambs, since I prefer their fleece for spinning. Like I have time for that. But I know exactly what kind of spotted lambs these girls will give me, bred how many of those lambs do I really need? Well, maybe I don't need to breed those ewes again this year....I could breed them next year....and give a few more a year off. So now I am down to 29 ewes that may breed here. I have a few yearlings that I want to try. I have a couple of strange markings from this year, and I want to see what those ewes have in another breeding to the same ram.
We are lacking rain again....had several days with possible rain....but only one brief shower. The girls are still in the back meadow. I am feeding hay to a few rams who have no more grass.....and our neighbor down the road just had his well go dry. Scary thought. Redirect your flooding rains this way....we need some.


At 3:57 PM, Blogger Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Dry well -- that IS a scary thought, and one that creeps into my mind once in awhile. Our well is small, and the summer rains have mostly missed us also. My husband doesn't begrudge buying hay for the sheep, as it's such a small amount compared to what we need for the three horses, so that's good.

Your comments about "what turns older ewes on" was thought-provoking, considering that I have purchased a polled ram lamb, and I have three ewes who have "experience" with horned rams. Maybe they will turn up their noses at the new boy in town! Then again, after a year off, their desire for testosterone may take over. Let's hope so!

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Nancy K. said...

What a beautiful ewe in the photo, Mary Ellen!

I almost always use ram lambs and have never had one fail to settle any of his girls ~ regardless of their ages. They may treat him a bit roughly, at first, but when they cycle, they don't seem to be bothered by youth... ;-) I definitely prefer using ram lambs on ewe lambs. Just feel like he's not so intimidating or overpowering to the little girls.

Looking forward to seeing you at Jefferson next month!

At 12:50 AM, Blogger stephen rouse said...

I also have no problem with ewes and ram lambs. (adult ewes). The year I bred Darius as a ram lamb I gave him 32 ewes (mix of adult and ewe lambs). All settled. :-) I remember Shanon F. in her handbook said a ram lamb should have no more than 3 or 4 ewes to breed. I had to chuckle at that. She must have never had teen-aged sons!


At 12:01 AM, Blogger Alaska Shetland Shepherd said...

HAHA! Who needs acreage to raise sheep? Not me. Granted, we do have 120 acres. I'm not fool enough to put them out on pasture tho, even if I *had* pasture...I have hayfields instead. I have predators. I don't have to worry about pastures nor guardian dogs, instead I feed hay all year 'round. I can keep as many sheep as I can afford hay. That's ok with me. I like my sheep. Especially the ones who's registrations came in the mail today. 8 lovely sheets of paper that sent me into my usual 'study the pedigrees' frenzy. I love pedigrees and genetics. Oh what fun I'm going to have setting up my breeding plans!!


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