Our first lambs are due right around Easter Sunday. That’s only about a month away!
Lots of preparation must happen before then!
I love lists. I have quite a large list for this weekend. We got a head start on it this morning, trying to get all of the weekly chores out of the way today so that we can keep tomorrow clear for big jobs.
Right now we have basically 3 groups of sheep.
The rams are one group.
They’ve done their job for the year, so they’re on very low maintenance at present. Boomer’s horn is still healing – still bandaged. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to check under the bandage tomorrow. We may even get around to shearing them tomorrow.
The ewe lambs are growing well. They have the year off to continue to mature for this fall’s breeding. They are all super friendly, which we hope will pay off when it comes time to work with them. Tomorrow will be a true test. We hope to shear them and trim hooves.
It’s warming up during the days now, and they have the warm barn to go to at night, so they really don’t need all of that wool any more.
The bred ewes are looking great. Bindi, in particular, is slowing down a bit. She should be the first to lamb, due as early as Easter Sunday. Her lambs should be starting to grow more quickly in this last month — in particular during the last 2 weeks of her pregnancy.
We’ve started all of the bred ewes on some complete sheep pellet supplement to give them a bit of extra protein. Studies have shown that increasing protein a bit toward the end of pregnancy helps them deal with the inevitable increased load of parasites that comes after lambing.
We can’t wait for lambing!
Tomorrow we also plan to vaccinate all of the sheep for clostridial diseases.
This will be their annual booster. Vaccinating at this stage of pregnancy will mean that the ewes will pass this immunity (temporarily) to their lambs in their colostrum to keep them healthy until their own immune systems kick in and are ready for vaccination. The clostridial diseases include, most importantly, bacterial diseases that cause tetanus and overeating disease.
We’ll also give all of them a dose of injectable Vitamin E/Selenium to help them deal with the stresses of late pregnancy, lambing and lactation.
Our area is very selenium deficient. Most of the year we supplement orally in their loose minerals and via an oral gel, but before lambing we like to give them the injection for more long term results.
And as if we weren’t giving enough injections, all of the sheep will be given an injectible wormer (anthelmintic) to try to lower their burden of worms when spring begins.
Right now the Haemonchus (barberpole worm) larvae are sort of hibernating in the sheep’s tissues, waiting for spring when they migrate and start taking up residence in the sheep’s abomasum where they do their damage, sucking blood from the animal.
From here they lay their eggs which pass into the manure and infect other animals. I could write a whole blog on this nasty pest about which we will be having a workshop here at the farm in May.
Injectible wormers help find these hypobiotic larvae and reduce their numbers prior to the post-parturient (after lambing) rise.
On top of all of the sheep work, I have on my list to start working in the garden. We have to fix up all of the deer fencing that was pulled down by the winter weather. We need to till in the lovely compost we’ve been making all year. We’ll also need to work on getting fence posts sunk down the back where we hope to set up a new permanent pasture, where, in the past, we’ve used temporary electric fencing.
But all of this garden stuff might have to wait a bit! When April comes around, those lambs will wait for no one!