So, lambing 2021 has officially started here on our farm kicking off with single lamb, ‘Uno’ and twins, ‘Tate & Lyle’.
I’ll give you an update on Friday as to how they’re doing but I’d like to start by trying to explain some of the work that goes on in preparation for lambing season, all the way back to before the sheep are even pregnant!
Pre-lambing work begins round about August of the previous year and is part of the annual cycle of jobs we do. We carry out some thorough checks on both the tups and the ewes, to ensure that they are fit and healthy. These include:
Teeth – to ensure they are able to eat properly to keep their energy levels up
Feet - to ensure they are able to walk without any pain or discomfort as they need to walk across fields to eat grass
Udders - looking for any lumps, bumps & abnormalities as without a good udder the ewe won’t be able to feed any lambs she produces
Tups - looking for any lumps, bumps or abnormalities that might indicate that he won’t be able to breed
Body condition – we feel the sheep’s body so any thinner or fatter animals can be fed appropriately to ensure their nutritional requirements are met.
A ewe is pregnant for approx. 145 days, but this can vary slightly between breeds. This means that if we are hoping for lambs towards the end of March/beginning of April, we have to work backwards to calculate when the tups need to be introduced to the ewes.
On our farm we try to co-ordinate our lambing season in time with the school Easter holidays, so our tups were introduced to the ewes on 31st October 2020 giving us an approximate start date for lambing of 25th March 2021. Just like humans, this is not an exact science, some can lamb a bit early, others can go a bit late, but it gives us a timeline for other jobs that need to be done throughout the pregnancy.
Some farmers lamb indoors early in December/January. If they want lambs to be born from 5th January, can you calculate when the tups would need to be introduced to the ewes? What about a hill farmer who lambs outdoors, later, when the weather is usually a bit better, say from 15th April?
Planning for lambing is so important, join me on Friday to see if our planning has worked out!!!