Sunday, July 29, 2012

Second round of evaluations and ramblings

This year, thanks to my digital scale I purchased last fall, I am able to keep track of the growth of lambs, and the weights of the ewes. Not surprisingly, most of the ewes were down a few pounds that were feeding twins. I sent 22 ram lambs to the auction today, and 12 adult shetland ewes. The ewes had various reasons (bite was off in one, shockingly!), no milk, half udder (due to past mastitis), fleece that was not to my liking, and not being able to raise growthy lambs (they were smaller every year). The ram lambs were either mules or other crosses, and then the shetland ram lambs that were not sold yet, or didn't make the grade. There were several smashing scurred ram lambs with very fine, crimpy fleeces, but I think a lot of people are afraid to use scurred rams. I'm not, I'm have 3 and have used 2 of them heavily (so far!). One was an Ag/katmoget (moget face) scurred F2 ram lamb. Pity others did not see his merit like I did.

I usually wait until September to send a trailer of sheep to market, and although have plenty of grass (MN and ND seem to be wet, wet, wet this year!) I thought the pastures would appreciate the lighter traffic load.

My largest cross lambs were 70 pounds at 3.5 months of age! Absolutely incredible. The Finn crosses were also between 58 and 69 pounds, and the rest of the mules were 45-66 (again all at just 3.5 months of age!) These lambs are coming from ewes that are between 65 and 95 pounds so for the most part, I was very pleased with the crosses.

I'm retaining all of my Shetland Mule ewe lambs this year (six of them), 2 Finn/Shetland ewes (please someone take them as fiber or crossing ewes!), and my BFL purebred ewe lamb. In addition to the 10 Mules I purchased from Theresa, I'll have THIRTY Mules/Crossbreds to breed to the new Texel ram I'm getting in August.

Since I am comfortable keeping 30 mules/cross ewes for market lambs, I will not be breeding many Shetlands to the BFL this fall. Or so I say now. I was so impressed with the Mule ewe lambs I raised myself this year I am tempted to do more, but I have some hard work laid out ahead of me this fall with the Shetlands.

For remaining Shetland ram lambs, I have have only four left. A scurred Fawn Katmoget flecket, krunet, sokket who is available for sale (due to the polled gene or he wouldn't be leaving this place!), and three fully horned ram lambs. A solid black (Christian x ShelteringPines Amarige), a black yuglet sokket (OK Acres Cadillac x WhitePine Salome, horned ewe!), and a modified moorit yuglet sokket (WhitePine Barnabas x ShelteringPines Cabotine). These three rams are all finally coming in crimpy at the base, dense, soft and fine fleeces. I plan on using two of the ram lambs (spotted) this fall in addition to other horned rams to secure the fine fleeced + horned genetics.

I have about 5 or 6 ewe lambs left for sale. I'm keeping back 12 ewe lambs to evaluate and if they do not sell, I will keep them and re-evaluate them in the spring. One is available only because she is polled (both parents polled) and the others because they are katmoget and I have 28 other katmogets to breed from :)

I HATE sending older ewes to market, or tame lambs, but it is a part of farming that I have come to grips with (at least I'm not sobbing anymore when I leave the auction house), but the pit in my stomach still is there.

In the end, my flock is better quality, more available pasture and one step closer to that perfect sheep :)


Erica said...

Ive been thinking about trying a Shetland/Finn cross. Sounds like it is working well for you. If crossed back to a Shetland will the Finn/Shetlands be close to as growthy? Are you happy with this cross? I might give it a whirl in the future.

Michelle said...

Garrett, sounds like you might be coming to OFFF so PLEASE email me about the polled ewe lamb!

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 ...