Lambing at Sheepdrove
03 Apr 2015 by Meg Walters
Lambing at Sheepdrove
The sight of fluffy lambs bouncing about in the sunshine is the first real sign of spring for many people, and it is a lovely sight.
But it takes a lot of work behind the scenes to get lambs into the world and out to fresh pasture with their mothers. The days start early and finish late, with continual checks going on in the fields from dawn to dusk, and the days in the shed are even longer- but despite the sleep deprivation, it’s the best time of year. Seeing so many new lives enter the world is a very rewarding experience.
Feed managementEach ewe is scanned in January to give us an idea of how many lambs she is expecting. This helps to manage the groups in terms of feeding. Triplets will get more silage than those carrying twins, and twins will get more than those carrying singles. It is a delicate balance between giving them the nutrients they need, without making them too fat so they struggle to lamb.
Managing numbersThe batches of ewes are marked with different colours so we know which week to expect the lambs in. We keep some sheep in the sheds over lambing, and these are the ‘high risk’ sheep, ones that are having triplets, first time mums and some carrying singles.
Once lambs are born and are dry they are numbered with their mothers- this helps identify lost lambs in the field much more easily. They also have their tails rung, and if they are male, their testicles rung as well.
An hour or two after ringing the ewes and lambs are ready to go to their new pastures, we keep sheep off some fields until they have lambed so that the grass is at its best and the paddock is clean. This gives them the best possible start.
WeaningThe lambs will stay with their mother until the beginning of September when they are almost the same size as her. They’ve nearly always weaned themselves by then so the weaning process is as natural as possible. The ewes always seem quite relieved to be parted from their teenage offspring!
The weaned lambs are then known as new season, or spring lamb. This is a term that confuses many people, after all, spring is when lambs are born, not traditionally eaten!
After spending their lives eating the very best of the spring pastures we have here on the farm the lamb is at its sweetest. Look out for it in our shop and online from August.
Author: Meg Walters