Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Weaning Lambs

We've been without the internet for a week or so (during which I did my best impression of a techy-type, and no one was fooled). And quite honestly, I've been unable to keep up the bloggy pace, even when we do have internet. Too busy "doing" to do much "documenting".

About 3 weeks ago we decided to separate the lambs from their mothers. They were big enough to be weaned, and if the ewes are to be bred this fall (and they are), they need a bit of a break from nursing to get back into top condition. 

We've learned over the years that it is easier to set up fence lanes when we move the sheep a long way. It's easier in the long run than chasing them when they go where we don't want them to. Notice the non-herding dog in the lower left side of the photo. We love her, but she's useless.

Things went as planned, and soon everyone was in the sheep barn. 

The sheep barn has great holding pens, and a chute that helps us handle the sheep.

The task at hand was to separate the lambs from the ewes, to deworm the lambs using medicine, and to pull out eight or ten 70-pound lambs to be sold.

Each ewe and lamb came up the chute (also used on shearing day), and the lambs were held in one of the holding pens, while the ewes went back outside to pasture.

After an entire afternoon of sweaty, satisfying work, we had the ewes out in one pasture. Then, using the same fence lanes, we herded the lambs back out to the pasture they had come from.

Most other years we have weaned much earlier. This year, our pastures are still in very good shape, allowing us to leave the lambs with the ewes longer, and allowing us to put the lambs back out to pasture after separating them. This went MUCH better than putting them in the barn (which we have done other years). The level of vocal distress (which is my least favorite thing to listen to) was much less. The lambs are healthier and happier. They continue to grow well out on pasture.

We'd like to do it this way every year, and plan to, if the pasture quality and quantity allows.

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