Sheep: Plenty of 'ram-power' needed for compact lambing
Now that the rams are out we are entering what is a quiet time of year on the farm. I'm running about one ram to 30 ewes. I find that plenty of 'ram-power' along with good conditioning in the ewes is essential for a compact lambing.
A ewe cycles every 17 days, and most should be covered within a three week period, but I will leave the rams with them for five weeks to be sure to be sure.
Lambing is not something that you want to drag on for too long. It's fine at the start when you are full of energy. But as the weeks roll on 'lambing fatigue' sets in and the joy wears off.
I am going to breed the ewe lambs this year but I won't let the rams with them until November 5. This usually allows a break mid lambing and lambing ewe lambs in April is easier on both man and sheep.
April lambing also allows the young sheep more time to fully develop her mouth - remember that a ewe lamb is not only feeding a lamb, but she is still growing herself. You have to be mindful of this otherwise the ewe lamb won't develop into the prolific ewe that you want her to. Also as a rule of thumb I like the ewe lambs to be close to, if not over, 50kg at the time of mating in November.
I vaccinated all the ewe lambs as well as last year's hoggets for toxoplasmosis. It was the first time that I did this. I had a problem with abortion last year which, I have now learned, is almost inevitable with a large flock. Thankfully the level of abortion I suffered in my flock was relatively low, but nevertheless it needed attention.
The one thing that I found with this vaccination is that you need to book your vaccine in plenty of time. I was cutting it tight as sheep that are treated need a three week period to incubate the vaccine before they can be mated.
I have treated all the ewe lambs and it is now my intention to treat all ewe lambs entering the flock each year so that eventually the whole flock will be covered.