Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pasture Lambing in High Gear

There are over 100 lambs on the ground.  I expect the pace will be pretty steady now and taper off in two or three weeks.  My pared down version of drift lambing is working - sort of.  I am able to keep the pregnant ewes ahead of the lambed group.  My oldest group of ewe lamb pairs now move readily.  In the middle group is the newest additions.  

I am catching lambs every day, and tagging female lambs with a management tag and marking male lambs with paint spray.  Then they’re released back to their anxious momma.  I try to work as efficiently and as quickly as possible because the longer I have a ewe's lambs the greater the chance she flees without them.  I keep all supplies in a backpack and work where I catch, so the lambs are not moved away and the ewe can see, hear and smell her lambs.   

In pasture lambing there is no pen or barn to assure that any ewe sticks around and takes her lambs.  She is free to abandon them if she choses or if she feels threatened.  You learn when and who to catch, and when and who not to.  It is one of the reasons I like pasture lambing - the ewes are truly tested for being good mothers.  

One of the tricky parts of pasture lambing, drift lambing or not, are the yearlings.  The yearlings don’t have the momma experience and thus are more prone to flee the scene when you catch their lambs.  

The best scenario for catching lambs is when the ewe and her lambs are off in their own area, which the majority of the sets will be.  Experienced ewes will move off to give birth as will ewes who do not flock tightly.   Yearlings and tight flocking ewes tend to lamb closer to one another.   The type of ewe can make a difference to how smoothly things go.  If I come across a batch of lambs in close proximity to each other, a decision must be made on catching them or coming back later when they might have drifted apart and I can be sure I’m catching the right sets.   

I took this photo of a yearling with her single lamb at the start of lambing but have not been out with the camera since - just too busy with keeping up.  


2 comments:

  1. I hope your weather cooperates for all of this!

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    1. Hot and windy so far. Rain expected over the next day or two but warm temps too so that will be alright.

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