Happy New Years ! 2016 has been a great year, we have had healthy, happy sheep and a very successful lambing, plenty of grass and overall just a good year ! We are only 12 hours into 2017 and we are back at it with another task at hand – weaning lambs. Here are a few tips that may help with the lowest stress and successful weaning as possible.
- Make sure lambs have had CD&T vaccinations as well as Booster vaccination prior to weaning to discourage any overeating problems with the lambs going on full feed.
- We have done both fence weaning and moving the ewes completely out of sight from the lambs, I don’t think it makes too much difference, lambs and ewes are going to bawl.
- I wean my lambs at 8 weeks old from the date the last ewe lambed, this will ensure that all lambs are eating well, growing well and if there is a lamb or two that needs a little more time on milk you can assess the situation.
- Ewes – I feed my ewes a high quality protein hay when they have lambs on them, and I want them to maintain a healthy body weight and good condition throughout the time they are nursing. I’ve noticed with the Dorper breed the lambs are half grown at birth and when two lambs are nursing it doesn’t take long for them to pull a ewe down. By keeping your ewes in good condition the recovery time is not as long and the sooner they can go back in with your buck for the next lambing. With that being said 10 days prior to weaning lambs I stop feeding alfalfa hay and switch to a low quality, low protein grass hay and stop any grain supplements to begin the process of stopping milk production. If you have started your lambs on a creep feed the sudden feed change will not affect them as it would without the creep. Ewes are fed low quality feed for 10 days with lambs still on them, at the 10 day mark lambs are pulled and ewes will continue to be fed this diet for an addition 10 days. By slowing and stoping milk production the will help eliminate any bag or mastitis problems in your ewes and ensure healthy bags and milk production for your next crop of lambs. After the 20 days ewes will be reintroduced slowly to a high quality feed (alfalfa).
- Lambs – Introduce lambs to creep feed and a good quality hay at the time of birth, this will encourage self feeding and with lambs being on a high quality feed, growth and nutrition will not come to a stand still or be lacking when you pull ewes off of feed to begin the drying off process.
With this we wish you a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year