Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sheep everywhere





Another Bummer
It has been an odd lambing year for us.  Actually our worst so far.  We have had 25 babies to date, 2 have died and four have had to be bummered  This is a 24% rejection rate!  Of those 6, 3 have died so far for a 50% mortality rate.  So obviously they weren't super healthy, but why?  Bad genetics?  A virus? (no one has been sick), Mothers too young? or Poor feed quality? (our hay this year is straw like, yet our winter has been very mild and the sheep have grazed a lot, there is green grass all over the farm even in January!!).  We do not have a good answer. 

To solve this problem we are getting a new ram (had already decided this in the fall and killed our ram, which is good cause he would be dead any ways after seeing the quality of the babies).  I will be watching the hay closer this year so it can be harvested while it still has some green color to it.  We are going to run two sheep herds. We will keep the ram with the alpaca.  He will get 6 weeks of access every 8 months.  When he is with the herd a second herd will be made up of young ewes under 1 year old so he does not impregnate any of them.  They can become pregnant at 6 months of age so they only need to be coddled for another 6 months.  Hopefully, this will help us overall.  Looking at a Katahdin/Dorper cross for our new ram. 

I will need to put up a couple more fences to make some more divided areas.  Lots to do, we still have a bunch of ewes still to deliver.  Luckily, it looks like the ones left are our older very solid mothers. 

We also have three new alpacas!  These new boys showed up yesterday.  They were some leftovers and we agreed to take them in and give them a home. There was much fighting and posturing to figure out the new pecking order.  The three new boys had not been sheared, hoof or teeth trimmed last year so they will have to be done this year.  I am always surprised how much larger they look with all their hair!  We might shear every other year and just do teeth and hooves annually.  This allows the fiber to get longer and me to make some mistakes shearing and still have a decent length fiber to work.  Its a possible option.  The lady dropping them off noticed her black animal could hang out with ours.  I said no, we have two black alpaca.  NOPE!  He was no where in the pasture.  He was our professional victim who refused to stay in his own pen, protected from everyone else.  He is dead I am sure, now I gotta walk the entire field and see if I can find him.  Not sure if that makes us good or bad animal caregivers.  We are keeping track of over 120 animals of four different varieties a few do go missed for a while.  We eventually figure it out.  Its a learning curve, this is probably the single biggest thing I have learned about raising different animals.  They all have different quirks and the animals have to learn your peculiarities.  I can tell now when the cows and sheep need something.  The chickens are just stupid and trying to die all the time. The alpaca I have not figured out yet.  They are not into complaining to us.  If they would come up to the feeder I would know they are hungry, but they don't.  
Our walk in closet work should start soon!  Annmarie is super excited. 
Three new alpaca, two hiding behind tree and far brown one on the left.