Weaning time for lambs
17 Aug 2015 by Meg Walters
Weaning time for lambs at Sheepdrove
We've started the noisy process of weaning the first of our lambs this week.
The ewes are split off from their lambs in the shed, and the ewes are then sent off to a field that has been recently grazed tightly.
The lack of lush grass helps dry up what little milk they might still have, which avoids them getting mastitis. After 5 days they head off into fresh pasture to have some peace and quiet and to build up their condition (although they're all quite fat!) in time for tupping (mating) again in early November.
Preventing escapeesIn the meantime the lambs are kept in for a couple of days, this stops them breaking out of fields looking for their mums. They are then ear tagged, split into small and large batches and sent off to their new fields- normally the fields we've just taken a crop off.
These fields are 'clean' as they haven't had livestock on them for a year and this helps keep the lambs parasite free, as they are most susceptible after weaning.
Matriarchs in the flockAlthough the lambs shout for their mums, they have all but stopped drinking, and have mostly weaned themselves onto just grass. Despite this, we know it can be confusing and a stressful times for the youngsters, so we put one or two old cull ewes (no lambs) into the lamb flocks.
These old girls have a matriarchal role and help teach the lambs to behave as a flock.
Easier for us to move from field to field (lambs don't bunch up well!) and a calming influence on the youngsters.
The Shetlands and Herdwicks won't be weaned for another month as they were last to lamb and are slower to grow, despite this, most are now the same size as their mothers and I'm sure they're looking forward to flying the nest!
Author: Meg Walters