Monday, April 7, 2014
Here are 4 ewes and their 9 lambs in a hardening pen. That is, they have been moved from their lambing jugs (pens where individual mothers bond with their lambs for a few days) and into a combined group but still not into the bigger flock.
This is where the mothers and lambs get some experience matching themselves up correctly in the bigger group.
In late spring pasture lambing I skip these steps as the paddocks are big enough that the ewes each pick their own area and will gradually move into the group as they are ready. In that case I only bring them to the barn if remedial attention is required - such as the mother isn't bonding well.
But lambing at this time of year, the lambs all drop in the barn yard, and from there I bring them in and pen them out of the elements.
I'll leave this group together for several days and then let them outside (to a different yard from the ewes who are yet to lamb).
In the background you can see a ewe poking her head through a gate - this is one of the two ewes who surprise lambed on Boxing Day. Their lambs are now weaned and those two ewes will stay in a pen for about two weeks on very poor feed - so they will stop producing milk and their udders will dry up. Needless to say they aren't impressed and the ewes with babies are getting a nice rich grain supplement while they are munching on old hay!