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Preparing For Lambing Season

August 31, 2021

You can never be fully prepared for what might come, but we do our best to try to get everything set up for our ewes and lambs. Each season can be a little different, but there are a few things that must be done every time.

Hello folks! Welcome to the first ever Defaid Livestock blog!

As you know, Defaid Livestock is family owned and operated. We run anywhere from 200 to 250 breeding Dorper and White Dorper ewes on about 100 acres. There are only three of us that tend to the sheep and that can get a little overwhelming at times when we have other things going on too. Planning and preparation can lower the stress levels for everyone!

We are fixing to start our next scheduled lambing and will be lambing out about 60 ewes. These ewes will all lamb out in about 30 days. Today we are going to talk about what we do to get ready for that. Keep in mind, this is just what we do, everyone has a different method and that is okay.

We do all our lambing in a confined area and move ewes and lambs to jugs pens as soon as possible after lambing. We have 5 pens that we lamb in – Mixing pens 1 thru 3 hold about 8 to 9 ewes each, the drop pen holds about 15-20 and the creek holds another 30 or so. Right now, we have ewes in all these pens so that we can feed them better and so that we can monitor them. All pens have covered areas for shade and shelter and all pens have cameras on them so that we can check them at any time. Part of getting ready includes prepping these pens and checking all cameras to make sure they are functioning.

The barn always has to be cleaned before August/September lambing. After going all summer with little attention, it is dirty, and the spiders have taken over. Mom has spent the last two weeks mucking out the barn and spraying it down to get it ready. She washed all the water buckets and all the towels. Having grown up at the washrack, she has her own way of doing things and likes a clean barn and clean shed row when we are lambing! She likes to be way more organized than Dad and I do.

Inside the barn, we can make about 28 jugs pens. We can squeeze in a few more if we need to. Our barn is a long, three-sided barn, we have added tarps to the open side and the gates leading to the alley so that we can block out bad weather and to help heat or cool the barn. We are hoping to install some down draft AC units before next summer! Right now, we are running big fans throughout the barn to keep air flowing and to help cool things off.

At the end of the barn, closest to the drop pen, we have an open area with gates and panels that can make a pull-chute quickly to help ewes that are in distress lambing. We have this chute set up so that if someone is by themselves, they can get the ewe in and pull the lamb without assistance in most cases. We have a show box hung on the wall in this area that has been turned into a lambing box. Stocking this lambing box, the dry fridge and the cold fridge are all part of the preparations. In the lambing box we have nitrile gloves, OB gloves (Mom is the main one that uses these), lots of clean towels, several bulb syringes, iodine, a large drench gun (to insert OB lube) and OB lube. The dry fridge is where we keep a lot of the necessary on hand medication, it is best to have a relationship with your veterinarian to know what you might need and know how and when to use it. We have lamb milk in the freezer at the house and the bottles at the house for the inevitable bottle baby.

The jugs pens are all ready with feed pans, hay feeders and water buckets. Some of the pens are doubled in size early on but can be cut down quickly as space becomes limited. In all the years we have been doing this, we have only been over run once or twice.

Ewes and lambs stay in the barn for 2-4 days depending on their needs. We dock all ewe lambs and any ram lambs that we feel will be show or breeding quality. All lambs are tagged before leaving the jugs pens, this helps us keep track of pairs for future needs, and all lambs receive their first vaccinations before leaving the jugs pens. From the jugs pens, ewes and lambs start getting worked into larger groups. They go into Mixing pens 1-3 (the same ones the bred ewes were in – we start emptying and refilling quickly) for a few weeks. We put about 8 ewes to each mixing pen. Lambs will start learning to creep feed in these pens. They will get their second round of vaccinations while in the mixing pens. They are then turned out onto a larger grass paddock with a larger number of ewes and lambs and a full-time creep feeder. They will stay here until they are weaned.

Hope you enjoyed today’s blog. My next one will be about difficult birthing situations. I will wait for some actual events and speak about them directly.

Have a blessed day!

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