Sunday, October 14, 2012

Barn Updates

As is the 'norm' around here, things continually change and I need to be ready for it when it happens. A few weeks ago I applied for a job with Washington State University. I planned on moving and needed to make the barns as efficient as possible for the sheep to stay at the farm over winter until I could afford to bring them out in the spring. That may be on hold for now, but in the mean time my barn is FINALLY becoming much more efficient :)

Something that I wanted to do for a few years was build a better way to feed my sheep. Round bales are terrible on the fleeces, I lose ear tags on some of the sheep, and unrolling them take a lot of time and I have to feed them outside in a pasture.

This is the lean to our old dairy barn. This alleyway is used about 90% of the time when entering the barn now so I needed to keep the space wide open. The plywood used for the small square bale flakes of hay is perfect.  They fit in there snugly against the metal hog panel and still allows me a clean, open, bright place to walk.

Inside the pen shows enough feeder space for the 60+ Shetland adult ewes that will be here over the winter. There is room to add three more 8 foot sections, giving me head space for 24 more Shetland adult ewes if I ever needed it.

Below is the south side (left side in photo above) showing some of the feeders.
A better close up below showing only the smallest holes in the hog panel exposed, while using lightweight plywood for the top. The hay all fits in there (more actually on the north side) and still there is room in the small trough for the beet pulp and hay chaff that falls down. No eating on the floor (unless they eat the bedding/oat straw). Little to no hay on their backs or the neighbors' backs.
Reinforced mineral tubs. The ewes kept rubbing their butts on them and breaking/snapping them off of the board they were on. This makes them much sturdier.
Above is the ewe lamb pen feeders that I am using for now. they were 55 gallon plastic drums that I cut in half and screwed on boards for the ends so as to not flip them over. They are lower, and easier for the lambs to eat out of so I am using them in their part of the barn.
Above and below, the girls are approving of the finished feeders.
Above is my home made chute system. This used to be the manger of the dairy barn where we fed the cows and walked with he wheelbarrow. It works nicely for the smaller sheep and I can get an entire system within an area that wasn't utilized before. The middle aisle is for myself. Its not the largest area but this allows me access to both sides of the chute and the digital scale is to the right where the plywood 'gates' slide up and down to allow a new sheep to enter or exit. I've not had any jump over it yet and its low enough I can access the sheep ear tags and check eyelids and worm if necessary.

And below are two samples of the new Whistlestop rams I described in my last post. The 'white' fleece is actually a light badgerface ram (black based) yearling ram that I am SO pleased I got. He is everything I'm looking for in a rams: fine fleece, conformation, horns (my preference only), rare color pattern, depth of body and capacity yet still fine boned, and some unrelated lines to work with. He's a yearling that I hope to use a LOT in the future.
The moorit fleece is of a ram lamb. I was able to go through Jim and Brandy's entire flock and take my pick of the lamb crop. There was a ram lamb with wider horns but this one was finer in my opinion. They will both be going to quite a few ewes in the next week or two.


Michelle said...

Both barn and fleece samples look great, Garrett. I had no idea you might be moving to the NW! It would be wonderful to have another fine-fleece breeder in the area; if you come, I hope you bring SOME polled stock at least....

corinne said...

Wow! The barn looks great! I will have to steal your idea for feeders, they look amazing!

Kelly said...

I was just admiring your new additions to the barn and burning with envy at the same time. Oh how I wish I had a barn....(as I click my heels together in vain)
Love the new hay,love, love them.

Cloverleaf Art and Fibre said...

Wait Garrett, don't move now! I've only just figured out how close you are to Manitoba, but haven't gotten up the nerve to invite myself down to see your sheep yet!
- Margaret

Karen Valley said...

Must be wonderful to have such a large space to work with. As I recall your barn is HUGE. Nice way to renovate it for sheep. I am sure you'll enjoy the updates.

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 ...