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Surviving lambing season  RSS feed

 
r ranson
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Lambing season is the best and the worst time of year for a shepherd. 



If one is smart (a good deal smarter than me) then it's easy to know when the lambs are going to pop out.  The ram is separate from the flock for most of the year and only visits them at a specific time.  This gives a birthing window of only a few days or weeks. 

It seems for me, every year accidents happen.  This year, my timing was off when I removed my last ram lamb so he got friendly with a few ewes, and Larry, my would be wether with one ball, is finally fertile.  So basically, yet again, I don't know when the lambs are due.

I have two ewes waiting to pop out lambs.  I've been staying up most of the night waiting for the lambs to pop out, but it's been two weeks of disrupted sleep.  It's starting to wear me down.  Yet, these ewes show all the signs.  They can hardly walk for the size of their udders, they show zero interest in the evening meal, often wandering off by themselves to rest away from the flock.  Their lambs holes are looking saggy.  Yet, by breakfast, they are back to their normal selves.  Why don't they pop out their lambs already?


Let's talk about the signs.  What tells you that the lamb is about to hatch? 

What do you do to prevent so many sleepless nights during lambing season?
 
Travis Johnson
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For me it is their sunken bellies. At first they are big and round, then all of a sudden they are rather sunken in by their flanks. I know at that point the lambs are in the birthing canal and ready to go.

But a lot of time, it is just a surprise. I had a sheep this year that I was sure would pop first...but nope...she never did. She was just one fat sheep. Another I thought would never lamb as she was so thin...bang...popped up a nice twins within the first weeks of lambing season.

I have pretty much given up on trying to predict. I like adding the ram and then counting forward 145 days so I know the first day of lambing season, but to predict each lamb is impossible. And now, anything over 25 degrees, I really don't worry about much. At that temp or above, they survive without much hypothermia, so I don't make nightly trips to the barn.
 
r ranson
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Both my pregnant girls ate dinner tonight.  That's the first time in over a week.  I think they are trying to put me off my guard. 

I'm worried about the Black Welsh Mountain purebred because her sister had so much trouble with the ... it's a word that starts with a 'c', I call it the inner lamb hole... not opening properly - two years running, so she's now at a retirement home never to be bred again.  But Marry, managed her first lambing okay, but last year, I had to pull a lamb out of her.  This year she's looking much healthier, except now she can't walk properly because the udders are too full.

If they are still pregnant in the morning, I'll try to get some photos and we can play guess the lambing date.
 
Drew Moffatt
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Lambing starts 5 months minus 5 days from when the ram went in with the girls.
When she's really close you often see a bit of goo coming out. The sunken in behind the ribs is a good indication too.
 
Patricia Maas
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Location: Central New Mexico
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With my Finnsheep, it can be 140 days. I am careful about the ram lambs generally as Finn ram lambs can  be fertile early on. Guess having been around my ewes enough, the sinking in on either side of the tail, udder usually tight, but not always, restlessness, crying and having a watch ewe start hanging around the heavy bred ewe.

Having had problems with owls as Finn lambs can be quite small, I try to watch my ewes and get them into a lambing jug before lambing. Yes, it can be long hours.

Looking forward to lambing in late April/ May next year. Much easier.

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Mike Turner
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You can control what time of day(or night) the ewes give birth by when you feed them.  If you feed them at 7am for several weeks before their expected birthing date, they will drop their lambs in the 6am to 1pm window.  It's been many years since I've had to watch over a ewe trying to give birth at 2am under the light of a flashlight, they now all give birth during convenient daylight morning hours.
 
Patricia Maas
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Location: Central New Mexico
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Mike Turner, you're right. Use that myself.
 
Travis Johnson
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I have heard that, but it does not come to fruition at my farm for some reason. I feed my sheep every day at 1 PM...everyday, yet they lamb at all different times. I do have several different breeds of sheep though and have quite a few of them so maybe that is why
 
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