Monday, April 20, 2015

First Lambs

The first lambs of the year have arrived on the farm. This healthy set of twins were already mothered up, cleaned and of full bellies when I went out this morning. That's how I like it done!

Lambing wasn't due to begin until Wednesday, but with lousy weather on tap I was pretty sure it would start early. Given the opportunity, a lamb will always choose the worst weather conditions for it.

I was happy to be mucking about in the barn today.

It's over 20 years since I've scheduled lambing for April. With snow forecast for mid-week I'm certainly having some second thoughts about the change. However, two things prompted me to make the switch from mid-May on pasture to mid-April in the yards:

1. Predator pressure has steadily increased. Even with an attentive guardian dog I lost 4 ewe lambs last fall. There are now wolves in the area in addition to coyotes, so for this year at least I want lambing closer to the barn in a confined yard that is easier for Bonnie to supervise.

2. Shearing was late due to scheduling difficulty last year - result was shearing took place after lambing and after the flock had been on pasture for some time. To my pleasant surprise, no lambs had trouble finding moms' spigots in full fleece, and more - the fleece was much cleaner coming off pasture instead of off hay. My fleece yield was almost double because of lower contamination.  Shetland fleeces are tiny compared to my Columbias, so the increased net yield was very nice indeed.

April lambing can be a risk because of nasty weather, but my sheep are proven good mothers - they get their lambs cleaned up and fed lickety split, and they find the most protective spot if there is cold wind blowing.

I hope this still seems a good idea if the forecast snow arrives later this week!

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