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Any sheep farmers? Free advise?


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We have 23 Kathadin Ewes and would like to grow the herd some.  Lambing season started and we aren't off to the best start.  We have had more then 1 prolapse issue, a dead lamb, a lamb in a box in the house getting fed, and 2 ewes that gave just a single lamb, same as last year. 

Do single lambing ewes step up in coming years?  I assumed the singles last year were because they were young but 2 that had singles ly have singles again.  Are singles born earlier then twins bred at the same time? (It seems in the beef world twins come earlier).  What is the productive life on ewes?  

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14 minutes ago, hobbyfarm said:

We have 23 Kathadin Ewes and would like to grow the herd some.  Lambing season started and we aren't off to the best start.  We have had more then 1 prolapse issue, a dead lamb, a lamb in a box in the house getting fed, and 2 ewes that gave just a single lamb, same as last year. 

 

Hate to say it, but all that sounds kinda normal for sheep.  At least from my experience.  

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Being in the same state, we had up to 300 at one time, all gone.. I agree with BigBud, sounds about normal. If they don't have milk, then the biggest lambs get over eating disease, if not it's maggots, or something else. Some people do real well with a small flock, but there is a reason you don't see many people raising them anymore.

We used to have singles and twins at any time. Didn't seem to matter which ram.

Good luck.

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Sheep lambing percentage depends on breed and often seasonal conditions. I don’t think there is any direct correlation between lambs between years in individual sheep. 
Lamb losses can be attributed to various reasons. Some breeds are better at mothering up than others. Sheep can become agitated and leave their lamb directly after birth. If season conditions are poor the mother can leave the lamb. 
Prolapse in sheep is often because they are too fat at lambing, age and twins put more pressure on them. 
Scanning ewes to determine empty ewes and seperate ewes with twins from singles is a very common practice here in Australia. Then different management techniques can be applied by keeping these in seperate mobs. 
Sheep can have 5 lambs at a time (unusual) but twins and triplets are common. 
Generally speaking, ewes in either poor condition or over fat will have problems at lambing. 
You will find plenty of info on sheep management from Australian webpages. Remember we had a high of 180 million sheep but sadly this is currently reduced to around 70 million at the moment due to various reasons. Sheep have been one of the major animals used in Australian agriculture. 

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From my experience ewes are either prone to have singles or multiple lambs. We would always select replacements that were twins or triplets. I’m not familiar with the Kathadin breed but single vs. multiple birth could be breed related too.

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Dad and Grandpa would always choose a good healthy single over twins or triplets. Are you feeding your ewes some bran in with the feed. A lot of old ewes would get pregnancy disease and could not get up and would lay there and die. One neighbor had lots better luck running his ewes on pasture so they got plenty of exercise which made lambing a lot easier for them. They ran from 500 to 1000 ewes every winter and would feed up all the grain and most of the alfalfa and always did good. 

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Advice for raising sheep....... hmmmm

build yourself a round barn, that way they don’t have a corner to go die in.  

I remember hearing something about Velcro......

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No experience beyond helping my kids with 4H lambs. But I enjoy a lamb chop or 3 every month or so. But around here most say "a sheep is a animal looking for a place die", much less robust than most other grazers.

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2 hours ago, 5088downunder said:

Sheep lambing percentage depends on breed and often seasonal conditions. I don’t think there is any direct correlation between lambs between years in individual sheep. 
Lamb losses can be attributed to various reasons. Some breeds are better at mothering up than others. Sheep can become agitated and leave their lamb directly after birth. If season conditions are poor the mother can leave the lamb. 
Prolapse in sheep is often because they are too fat at lambing, age and twins put more pressure on them. 
Scanning ewes to determine empty ewes and seperate ewes with twins from singles is a very common practice here in Australia. Then different management techniques can be applied by keeping these in seperate mobs. 
Sheep can have 5 lambs at a time (unusual) but twins and triplets are common. 
Generally speaking, ewes in either poor condition or over fat will have problems at lambing. 
You will find plenty of info on sheep management from Australian webpages. Remember we had a high of 180 million sheep but sadly this is currently reduced to around 70 million at the moment due to various reasons. Sheep have been one of the major animals used in Australian agriculture. 

Nailed it

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We've been raising katahdin sheep for a few years now.

Sheep have alot of problems with parasites here. Dogs and coyotes can be a problem as well. Like cattle good health and proper nutrition can help alot. Keep the lambs dry "wet lamb, dead lamb". 

Sheep don't need a reason to die, they have plenty. It seems they just need to find the right spot and it happens...

Do you know why you always see Sheppards wearing a robe? Sheep can hear a zipper a mile away!

Thx-Ace 

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9 hours ago, hagan said:

Dad and Grandpa would always choose a good healthy single over twins or triplets. Are you feeding your ewes some bran in with the feed. A lot of old ewes would get pregnancy disease and could not get up and would lay there and die. One neighbor had lots better luck running his ewes on pasture so they got plenty of exercise which made lambing a lot easier for them. They ran from 500 to 1000 ewes every winter and would feed up all the grain and most of the alfalfa and always did good. 

Feeding a little bit of grain every night.  We bring them in every night due to predators.  The grain is how we taught them to follow us when moving them.

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I would agree based off our experience that the beef cattle are so much hardier and do a much better job taking care of their young.  When we bought this farm it came with a converted pig farrowing house that the previous owner set up for sheep.  At that point I didn't even know what a ewe was.  The previous owner claimed he did very well with the sheep.  We are close to some real good markets for animals and also see lots of opportunities to sell as pets to the backyard farmers. 

Thank you to the Australian guys for your feedback also.  I will try to spend some time reading what is out there, maybe starting this evening.  (There is tons of snow to move here today).  Australian leg of lamb and some other Australian lamb cuts are sold in stores here.

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I tried raising goats once in cold and rainy weather they would lay  down and die easily also one day snotty noise next day dead .

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Dad always claimed sheeps nervous system wasn't as developed as other animals and didn't show distress as soon because of it. Said if you see something wrong with a sheep better get on it right now as it might almost be too late already.

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A grown sheep is not much bigger than a newborn calf. It's much easier for predators to kill a 100 lb animal than a 1000 pounder. We have controlled most all predators that can kill cattle here in the USA. However any house dog can kill a grown sheep and a hawk can carry away a newborn lamb. This causes sheep to constantly be stressed out.

When sheep are sick they hide it more than cattle. They will even act like they are eating when they are not. Your have to watch them much closer.

Worms cause cattle to be less productive. The barber pole worm can kill sheep outright. You need to study about worms and FAMACHA training is highly recommended if you live in a humid climate (east of I35).

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Dad in law had a couple hundred at one time. I recall him always pulling out a dead one now and then. Sick sheep-dead sheep. He would often be bottle feeding 3 or 4 lambs as the mother would be dead. He did learn quick diet was critical. He switched over to goats which seamed to go better.

Side note. Got done reading the time-life western book on the sheep vs cattleman. Boy that was something. The cattleman complained the sheep ate everything in front of them and left nothing behind them. As it took a lot more cattleman to do a drive than shepherds it got ugly for the shepherds. The cattleman would shoot their sheep dogs. Burn their wagons. Dynomite the sheep or run them off cliffs. And another favorite pastime was to tie the shepherd to his wagon wheel and send the wagon on its way.

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Some ewes just have one. Wife runs 300 ewes and we keep back replacements from the herd, try to keep only twins or triplet born and only earliest born. Our replacements will have lambed by the time they are 12 to 13 months old. Some have twins their first year but dont all feed twins. The next year we still have some singles. I always flush ewes before breeding by giving them a half pound of corn for a couple weeks before buck turnout and throughout breeding and for a month after to help retain multiples. This year they got grain all fall and up to lambing, but not sure if the lambing percentage will be a great deal better. Our ewes graze waste acres, such as hay storage yards and small pastures that we dont run cattle in then get ground alfalfa and corn silage with 1/2lb corn in a tmr when grazing is done. Grain and total pounds of feed are increased after lambing. If I feed too much silage before lambing, especially last 30 days prior we had some prolapses so I wait until after lambing to give more silage. Premier has prolapse harnesses you can use to help. Dad always said that where there is life there's death, I think you're doing it wrong if you dont have a dead pile during lambing, lol. There are many diseases and disorders that sheep can get as well that can cause dead or deformed lambs, carried by anything from cats to mosquitoes. They are profitable here, but markets fluctuate, I've sold as low as .48 and as high as over $2. We started with 80 head in 2 small hog barns and lots of hand labor, but they have paid many bills around here and hey, what else is there to do in January/February? Good luck, there's a learning curve!

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Eat them. Cut your losses.

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......apart from Merino wool.....which is very fine in texture......cross bred wools down under are virtually worthless....Where I part time as the "old Bloke "   on the Rainbow Station,the shearing actually costs them....There are over 5000  breeding ewes...plus  replacements ...rams  etc......horrendous   situation....and its does my head in...as they say.....all this nonsense about  'carbon footprint' etc.....the textile industry which seems to have pushed wool sideways, has a huge carbon footprint...yet wool is at an all time low....And the 'fat lamb ' price is down also at the present time......this being the only return  for the sheep farmer......

,,,and New Zealands   Govt answer to global warming.....among other things...is a 15%   reduction in cattle numbers...

...Damn, but the Farmers every where take a hammering   from the rest of society.......just so bloody sad, but....as you folk on here have said.....who needs Farmers , when the Supermarket 's are chock full of tucker.....

Mike

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From an old timer in the sheep industry here in the extensive grazing area of Oz

"Two things that I've learned about sheep.

The first ambition is to get away from you.  And if you block that

The second is to die on you"

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5 hours ago, mike newman said:

......apart from Merino wool.....which is very fine in texture......cross bred wools down under are virtually worthless....Where I part time as the "old Bloke "   on the Rainbow Station,the shearing actually costs them....There are over 5000  breeding ewes...plus  replacements ...rams  etc......horrendous   situation....and its does my head in...as they say.....all this nonsense about  'carbon footprint' etc.....the textile industry which seems to have pushed wool sideways, has a huge carbon footprint...yet wool is at an all time low....And the 'fat lamb ' price is down also at the present time......this being the only return  for the sheep farmer......

,,,and New Zealands   Govt answer to global warming.....among other things...is a 15%   reduction in cattle numbers...

...Damn, but the Farmers every where take a hammering   from the rest of society.......just so bloody sad, but....as you folk on here have said.....who needs Farmers , when the Supermarket 's are chock full of tucker.....

Mike

When I was a kid we could make decent money from wool.  But by the time my Dad quit raising sheep a few years ago you could hardly get rid of it.

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This breed is a hair sheep.  There is no wool.  They shed their coats in the spring.  Breed correctness is ones that shed completely and clean. 

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My sheep, mostly katahdin, shed  in the spring. You will find the wool/hair all over the pasture. I've had neighbors call me thinking something had killed a sheep!

To me it's ideal if they shed everything except a cape down their back. It helps protect them from the summer sun like a hat.

The range maggots have kinda grown on me.

Thx-Ace 

 

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10 hours ago, acem said:

My sheep, mostly katahdin, shed  in the spring. You will find the wool/hair all over the pasture. I've had neighbors call me thinking something had killed a sheep!

To me it's ideal if they shed everything except a cape down their back. It helps protect them from the summer sun like a hat.

The range maggots have kinda grown on me.

Thx-Ace 

 

I had a few that shed like that leaving some on their backs.  I'm only a little over a year into the sheep venture and last year had just a few lambs born.  (Ewes were very young).  Large hair clumps all over the place last year.

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