Our happy sheep produce healthy lambs!
I had not planned to get sheep so soon but the husband really wanted some. When a friend found a local source for sale then I could not really pass up the deal. So here we are, ending our 2015 year with a ewe and lamb! We are wanting meat, not wool or milk so a hair sheep herd will work well for us.
The one year old ewe, aptly named Ewenice, is probably a Katahdin/Dorper cross but she was bred back to a Dorper so her lamb looks a lot more like one.
The lamb, our very own Ursewela, was only a week old when we brought her home.
Ewenice learned early that humans have treats. I don't want her so wild that I can't get my hands on her and treat her if needed. She came from nice people, too so she is somewhat friendly.
Ursewela had no one to play with the first few days of isolation except some chickens. She enjoyed chasing them around the small enclosure.
Growing up fast. Three and a half weeks old and she is sturdy, stocky and eating very well!
They actually have learned their names quickly and come when called. Such good girls.
I was amazed to see how much grass they actually consumed in only a few days on the paddock. I won't be keeping a very big herd of these because I don't find it productive to have to buy feed for them. Hair sheep, especially Katahdins and Dorpers, should be able to live quite well on good pasture, water and minerals. They do not lamb in a barn but rather out in the field. I will not be breeding theses ewes until fall 2016 though.
At 3 months old Ursewela was as big as her mom, Ewenice! That is some amazing growth on just pasture and winter hay!
Ursewela loved the snow! But most children do!
Axel all grown up in 2016 and guarding the sheep and goats so well!
By spring, Ewenice had stopped nursing Ursewela and besides, she was as big or bigger than her mom at 6 months old! There was plenty of lush grass for them and I stopped feeding hay. They had plenty of minerals and fresh water but still came when I called them.
The girls graze all the time. They have good coats and hooves. Their parasite numbers are very low on the monthly fecal checks. I really love these sheep! The Guineas follow them all around the paddock scratching up bugs and keeping the manure turned.
In May, we were given the opportunity to adopt a beautiful ewe to add to our little herd. She is a Royal White or St Criox or mix and her name is Sugar. Her past was rough and she has the scars and torn ears to prove it. At first she was afraid of me but in the months since, the herd has shown her where all the delicious treats come from and she has warmed up to me some.
Months later she still looks like she doesn't trust me but she will take treats from me. She is not pushy in the herd at all.
The girls needed a man and I looked around for anyone with ram lambs but could not find any hair sheep for my girls. I finally was able to trade some ducks for an East Friesian ram lamb. I don't want wool sheep but he could help me out for a breeding season, so along came Kyle. He came with his name.
Kyle was only 5 months old when he came to live with us so I gave him a few months to mature more before putting him in with the ewes. I did not want winter lambs either.
As fall grew late Kyle started asking where his women folk were. He was ready to do his job on the farm. Notice the grass went from green to brown and he grew up.
I am not sure if the girls were excited about a boyfriend or not. I tried to encourage them to accept him. They were still hesitant.
Finally, Kyle meets the girls. His own herd! His harem!
Like the fall rose, so blooms the love of Kyle for his ewes. Hopefully, lambs due in late March or April.
One thing I love about sheep, they are not delicate. They do not mind rain or snow and will stay out in weather instead of demanding to stay inside their shed. The small herd had run of the back paddock and back pasture for a few months and with plenty to eat inside the shed, they still were out in the snow. Notice it is on their backs. I love sheep management so far. It has been very easy compared to the other farm animals.
Kyle and the girls loved grazing the back pasture. It had so much in it since it had not been grazed as much in the fall. The winter still has them plenty of grass to eat and they barely touch their hay in the shed. Getting closer to lambing and I am more and more excited to see lambs!
April blew in and so did the new lambs! I knew approximate due dates and kept a watch out for them. They would not go into the shed to lamb. They all had them out in the woods, where they felt more private.
Ewenice had hers first and gave me one ram lamb. And as usual, had the lamb in a rainstorm. But he did just fine and has grown to be a big boy.
Then Ursewela had her ram lamb. Also after a rainy night. He grew up just fine, too.
And then Sugar lambed twin ram lambs after a rain but the sun did come out first thing in the morning for her presentation. Both boys grew up without any health issues, other than cocci. They are smaller than the other lambs though.
I try to keep my pastures in good shape for grazing and rotate them through enough to kill back any chance parasites may have to get a foothold. One thing for sure, the lambs were a joy to watch and they grew fast but not as fast as Ursewela so I would rather breed back to a hair sheep for better growth and meat.
We like the sheep so much that we added in two more girls. Purebred Katahdin from Skyland Farm, local to us. These girls will add so much to our meat production! We are so glad to add them to our small herd! As of now they are being called 29 and 33. I suppose they need better names but I am not sure I want to call one She-haira and try to find a fitting name for the other one either. These girls are 7 months old and just arrived the other day. They are so gorgeous! God has certainly blessed us!
Stay tuned as we go into winter with 5 ewes and have the lambs processed for winter meat. Spring lambing will be here before you know it.
Ursewela gave me a eweling lamb after Christmas 2017. The lamb has been sold.
Ewenice gave me a ram lamb towards the end of January and the day afterwards it came a good snow but he did great during the cold weather. I have banded him and will have him processed next fall.
Sugar gave me a eweling lamb in February. She will be up for sale as I do not need more girls.
The ram lambs from last year (2017) have all been processed and now we are growing out for fall. The two new ewes I bought last year are pregnant but I am not sure when they will lamb.