Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Producing the "Ideal" Market Lamb

One of the challenges to the sheep industry in the United States is to produce a uniform size of market lamb. Many processors are looking for a 45 to 65 pound carcass in order to supply uniform cuts to their buyers. So, as a sheep producer you can ask yourself the question "Are my ewes producing a uniform group of lambs that finish out at 90 to 130 lbs live weight?" And, a second to go along with the first would be "Am I producing a size of lamb that best optimizes profitability in my management situation?"

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Weaning Lambs

A variety of methods can be used to wean lambs from their mothers. Most producers will wean between 60 and 90 days of age. Ewes whose lambs are weaned at 60 days will need special care to prevent mastitis, an inflammation of the udder. These ewes should be taken off grain a few days prior to weaning and should be switched to a lower quality hay. Once the lambs are taken away, you may also want to restrict water access for 24 hours. For ewes who lambs are weaned at close to 90 days of age, they should also be taken off grain and switched to the lower quality hay. Because their milk production has dropped significantly since the lambs were 60 days of age, restricting access to water is likely not necessary.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Do I Do With a Chilled Lamb?

With winter lambing it is almost inevitable that you will have a chilled lamb. These are lambs who are born during very cold weather and whose body temperature drops below normal. They will be lethargic and if you insert your finger into its mouth it may feel cold. A chilled lamb should be warmed up slowly. Some of the methods used are to take them into a warm room, blow hair air across them with a hair dryer or dip them in a bucket of warm water. I like to move them to a warm room where they can warm up over a period of an hour or so. Once the lamb has warmed and is trying to stand, you can then let them nurse, drink from a bottle or tube them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Castrating Ram Lambs

Castrating ram lambs is not a necessity, but rather a choice. If you are selling wether lambs for show or rams for breeding stock this would be a necessity. However, many ethnic markets prefer an intact male lamb. In other words, they want a lamb complete with tail and testicles and without any blemishes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Docking Lambs

Docking lambs can be a simple process with a few precautions. The first precaution is to vaccinate lambs for tetanus prior to docking. Lambs who are docked at an early age should receive some protection through their mothers. These ewes would need to be vaccinated 4 to 6 weeks prior to lambing. Lambs who are docked at two weeks of age or older can receive their first tetanus vaccination at this time. This vaccination is often a combination shot for tetanus and over eating disease.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Producing High Quality Wool in the Winter

Producing high quality wool can be a challenge in the winter. Be sure to keep pens well bedded so that wool stays clean. You should also feed carefully to avoid getting any grain or hay across the backs of the sheep. In the spring when the sheep are sheared you can also skirt the fleeces to remove any badly stained areas, remove wool with heavy amounts of vegetable matter and to remove any manure tags.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New PA Scrapie Identification Regulation

Pennsylvania has a new law relating to scrapie identification in sheep and goats. This new law went into effect on January 1, 2009 and now requires that all sheep and goats that leave the farm where they were born must bear an official scrapie identification. If you need to order tags, call USDA at 866.873.2824.