Monday, May 31, 2010

Thoughts on Sales

I have always been amazed at how people can KNOW that a minute old lamb or a 2 month old lamb is available for sale and that it will be a good representative of the breed to assure its registration and breeding value. Perhaps they've had decades of lambings, and know what their lines will produce. Perhaps they are just breeding for spots and anything that isn't spotted is immediately available. Or perhaps if its a ram lamb, out of a ewe that they wanted a ewe lamb out of, they will offer the ram up for sale.

I've raised cattle my entire life. I've done the planned breedings for our dairy and then beef cattle since I was old enough to look at pictures and read. We always kept all of our females for potential replacements and would evaluate them at weaning (270 days) and again as long yearlings. Many of those girls would be retained, some, would end up going to the market with the steers we over wintered.

Bulls were never kept on our farm no matter how good. They were either too related to our cows, or were an improvement on their dams, but not as good as other bulls that we could purchase semen from. In the 25+ years that I can remember raising cattle, I believe I've kept only 6 bulls to use for breeding, and all of them were only kept for one breeding season. Were they terrible? No. Were they exceptional? No. I always felt better going 'out' to better bulls with better EPDs and higher percentage of reliability.

Jump forward to the sheep. My first lambing season I had four ewes and four rams. I think. :) I kept everything to do evaluations on. I was learning. A lot. I think I asked hundreds of questions that were always happily answered by those I sought out. I butchered all those rams and have sold all of those ewes except one (and she's available now).

In every year after that I have retained more rams and ewes to evaluate. Last year I kept 14 ewes and 13 rams to evaluate. I'm waiting (still) on their micron results from this spring to see what that TOOL says about their fleeces. I already know how they FEEL. I know how the lock strcuture LOOKS. I've watched them on pasture this past month blossom into maturing animals. Their faces have gotten longer and a bit wider (but still typey standard heads). I've watched as they've become a bit deeper in body, more spring of rib, (no longer slab sided) and most interestingly, they seem to have 'bodied up' (its a dog show term) a tremendous amount and the rams look like rams and not some juvenile thing, and the ewes look just like their moms, only a tad shorter in height and shorter in body (length). That will come next year.

Do I know it all yet? HA HA HA. Um no. I never will.

But for the very first time tonight when I was out watching the girls bed down in their small paddock next to the barn (a storm is coming and they know it!) I was surprised by my thinking as I was looking at some phenomenal lambs (I may be a bit biased) and looked at them as said " yep you could go". WOW. Did I just say that??! They are LAMBS! At most they are 8 weeks old. I am floored. After watching for four or five generations now I have a better idea of how they'll turn out. Their fleeces now and structure are indicative of their lines (both paternal and/or maternal) and I am REALLY surprised at the lambs I pointed at and said "I think Michelle or Juliann would like this girl". She's got big depressions in her head :) And she's out of my favorite ewe and my favorite F1 ram from last year :) (Sedalia and Levi)

This year was also a first for me in the lambing jug. never before have I seen lambs born and knew that any gray katmoget rams were most likely for sale, either for breeding if they turned out, or for slaughter if they didn't. I had no issues telling myself, the lambs, or their mothers this epiphany :)

I have photos. I just have a computer who's memory is full. I also have a 950 GB external hard drive that I thought could save all of my photos, videos and music, but for some reason it needs a software program to run it and it is a STUPID program that I cannot use and its impossible to get the photos back ON to the computer. Talk about frustrating.

So until I get this fixed, you'll just have to believe me. Or better yet come visit me :)

Two weeks until Black Sheep Gathering...I can't wait!

1 comment:

Michelle said...

So who is this girl you think I would like, just in case I can't get transportation for Possum worked out?

Available sheep

With my work load continuing to pile up, and less time to spend with the sheep, I am offering the following: My entire flock of BlueFaced ...