I was born yesterday, mega sheep update

13987409_1220353764655454_1601393727707132599_oThis black badgerface ram lamb being petted by a mysterious stranger is Zuko IV, out of Brunhilde.  She had him Sunday afternoon right before my eyes.  She is going to be our first ewe cull for conformation defects, her teats are located in very poor positions for nursing lambs, equivalent to under the arms.  Her little guy is cheerful and of hearty spirits, but totally unable to figure out suckling.  He has the strength, but not the instinct.  She was one of the unexpected lambings.

 

So was Ripley.  Hers was sadder.  She miscarried 8/4/16.  (GRAPHIC FETUS PICTURE BELOW)

 

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So we are at 15 lambs delivered of 9 ewes and 13 live lambs, of which one is currently a bottle lamb.  9 live males, 4 live females and sex indeterminate of the miscarriage.  Still waiting on Toph and Katara to give us a sign they got pregnant.  Nothing yet.

We got enough fencing in place to keep the yearling rams from roaming.  And roam and roam they did, apparently in the wild it is normal for young unbred rams to find a little pasture away from the herd Rocky-style and train (via eating lots, the sheep version of lifting big and posting gains) to take down the Big Ram.  So that is what Clovis and Zuko II were doing when they kept busting out of the fencing.  But now they’re stuck in our roughly 4 acre pasture, until we can send them to freezer camp.

We met several neighbors, who were pretty cool about things and have really nice pastures, at that.

We are done with breeding for the next few years and will just focus on fiber.  We will probably just eat and/or sell all the rams.

 

 

 

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Shearing woes and a bummer lamb that is not a bummer

We had a shearer lined up, but the shearer lives on the closed-in side of the Oso landslide and couldn’t get out here.  The people behind the landslide aren’t at flood risk anymore, to my knowledge.  Life there is mostly back to normal given the situation, but still a lot of adjustments to make.  So we are likely to shear the whole flock ourselves.

My husband already did a first pass with the rams with a strong-backed relative stopping by to assist, and it looks ok.  We sheared after their wool break though, so we’ll see if it’s all felted up when I finally get around to that batch of wool.

Little Zuko is finally not so little anymore.  He is really amazing as a bottle lamb, I would go ahead and breed an ewe with the level of stamina and will to live and sheer strength and stubbornness he’s shown.  His weight gain is not what we’d hoped because we didn’t get the temperature right with many of his feeds.  We were usually doing room temperature, not body-heat warmth.  We were basically just confused and tired because his small size meant a lot more feeds than the feed instructions indicated.

But instead of failing to thrive, failing to gain weight or learn to walk, Zuko made it work.  He gained on feed that his tiny little body had to warm up first before using it for building muscle and weight.  And on the little bit he was gaining, he built enough muscle and fought to learn to walk, skip and run (lambs skip before running, as far as I’ve seen).  He got out there in the pasture with the smallest of the other lambs being twice his size and integrated himself into the flock enough to eat grass and start chewing cud.

I was worried he’d bond too much with us and not learn sheepy instincts, but he’s doing just fine.  He sees his bottle feeds as equivalent to nursing an ewe and doesn’t understand why the other sheep move away when we come out to feed him.  He also doesn’t run for any random human expecting feed.  He is tame, but totally remembers that he’s a sheep first, which is nice and not always what you get with bottle lambs.

He remains the runt of the flock, but after just a few days in the pasture, they are starting to sit next to him and let him graze in peace during the few times they are all flocking together.  We also corrected the bottle temperature issue and he’s gaining much better, with a good shot of tripling his birth weight by 4 weeks.  It’s still too early to tell what kind of fleece he’ll give as a wether, but his little sheep chest is filling out and his legs are strong, so he’s looking quite solid at less than three weeks old.

He’s an impressive and brave little lamb.

Bottle lamb ram

A third ewe birthed yesterday, it was not easy for her and she had surprise ram/ewe twins.  The ram’s horn buds were really stuck in there and he had to be pulled out by my husband.  She’s our other first-timer and she managed to do ok with the ewe that followed very unexpectedly (my husband was worried it was a prolapse until it became clear it was just another bag and lamb), but I think we have a new fiber wether if he gets his feet today.

I was up all night with him, he is pretty loud, which is a good sign, so that’s all for now.