Skip to main content

Fall Lambs

Last May, we purchased roughly 50 older ewes from another sheep rancher in the Delta.  While most sheep are seasonal breeders (that is, they only breed when the days are growing shorter), these ewes were "out-of-season" breeders.  When we got them home, we turned our Blueface Leicester rams in with them.  About 150 days later (last Sunday, to be exact), these ewes started lambing.
Mo says "I'm ready to go to work!"

Vegas - our youngest guard dog.


I love lambing season - there's something about new life that makes the days exciting.  This is our first year lambing in the fall, however, and we're finding it a bit different.  First, the feed quality is not what it is in the springtime (when we normally lamb), which makes meeting the nutritional needs of the ewes more difficult.  We're finding that we need to supplement the pasture grasses just to keep the ewes going.  Second, since it's been warm (actually, downright hot), we've been somewhat worried about dehydration in the lambs.  Third, since these ewes weren't raised in our system of pasture lambing, we're having to adjust to their mothering style.

New arrivals!
The upside of lambing in the fall is that we'll have product to sell next spring.  The wether lambs that are being born this week will reach a finished weight next April or May.  We're also hoping that the ewe lambs being born now will inherit some of their mothers' out-of-season breeding ability.  While the results of this experiment won't be known until sometime in the future, I'm enjoying the daily gift of new life!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trade Offs

As we were building fence for the soon-to-be-lambing ewes this morning, someone drove by and asked my partner Roger how long it took to set up the electro-net fencing we use for the sheep. Roger replied, "It's not too bad," to which the driver said, "Seems like a lot of work." Roger's answer - which both of us use with some frequency, was, "Yeah - but this way we don't have to feed any hay!" The driver, who obviously wasn't a rancher, didn't understand - and I suspect even some of my rancher friends don't understand the trade off we're making. Building electric fence is a lot of work - wouldn't it be easier just to feed hay?

The paddock that Roger and I built this morning encloses about 5.75 acres of high quality forage. Since the ewes are on the verge of lambing, their forage demand is peaking. They're eating nearly twice as much grass now as they need in the late summer - after all, many of them eating for three (and p…

No Easy Answers Part 2

In mid October, some friends who graze their cattle in the mountains of western Lassen County (less than 200 miles from our home), became the first ranchers to have cattle “officially” killed by wolves in California in nearly a century. Wildlife officials confirmed that the Lassen pack killed a 600-pound heifer; four more heifers died (and were partially eaten by wolves), but the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) couldn’t confirm the cause of death. While I learned about the depredations shortly after they happened through the rancher grapevine, news of my friends’ losses weren’t made public until the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation issued a joint press release this week. The October 28 edition of the Sacramento Bee ran the story.
If you’ve read my previous blogs about wolves, you’ll probably know that I’ve frequently been frustrated with the Bee’s coverage. The paper has run guest opinions disguised as news articles, and appar…

Humbled and Excited

More than 20 years ago, I went to work for the California Cattlemen's Association (CCA). After two internships, I'd been hired by my friend and mentor John Braly as the membership director in 1992. By 1996, I'd been promoted to assistant vice president - pretty heady stuff for a young guy who hadn't grown up in the industry. I started looking for new challenges. Dr. Jim Oltjen, who was (and is) the beef extension specialist at UC Davis (my undergraduate alma mater) suggested that I think about going to graduate school to prepare for a career in extension. I considered it, but the timing wasn't right.

Fast forward to 2013 (or so) - I'd been working as a part-time community education specialist in our local University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) office for several years. The farm advisors in the office - Roger Ingram and Cindy Fake - suggested that I consider getting a master's degree and applying for a future farm advisor job. This time the id…