Friday, March 28, 2008

Last weekend, we gathered up the ewe flock for deworming and vaccinations before lambing. We do this every year at about the same time. Warmer weather and the stress of pregnancy and lambing can increase worm loads, so now is a good time to deworm. We also vaccinate the sheep for tetanus and clostridum. Vaccinating the ewes before they lamb will pass on some of the vaccine to the lamb.
We also planned to start shearing. We plan on doing a few sheep at a time, as we feel like doing them. The ewe flock was brought into the barn overnight so they would be dry. As I prepared the supplies, I noticed that Valient Valora was walking around with two hooves and a nose sticking out of her rear end. I waited patiently by while Valora gave us our first lamb of the year, a gulmoget ram lamb. I am guessing he will turn grey. I love watching lambs born, the novelty of it just never seems to wear off.
The sire is Shelteringpines Justinian, Stephen's scurred black gulmoget ram. I had bought Valora already bred from Carol Kelly a few months ago. Thank you Stephen and Carol, this guy is a cutie!
We had converted two horse stalls into a 12' X 24' catch pen. We had purchased this headgate at the Jefferson show last year. It lifts out of the doorway when not in use. The ewes willingly stuck their heads through for a bit of shell corn, where they were captured one at a time. They did not fight once they realized they couldn't go anywhere. They were drenched and got their shots.

I got three ewes sheared before the shears started to run hot. Tom says my two ewes look like Jerry Lewis. Whatever. :) It is NOT as easy as it looks! The shears are heavy and they vibrate. I started out with a 13 tooth comb, but I was worried about cutting the ewe or my own fingers. I switched to a 20 tooth goat comb and it worked just as well in the dense shetland wool. Here I am shearing Dalmatica while the flock looks on.
The fleece was butchered beyond usefulness, but everybody has to start somewhere. I did not nick her at all, nor myself. Next time, I'll try starting at the tail and moving horizontally.

Tom was eager to try his hand. Here he is shearing BabyBee. She did turn out much nicer looking than my tries with Dalmatica and Twinkle.

Two days ago, I had to treat one of the Clun Forest ewes, Alice, for early ketosis. I noticed that while the rest of the flock was eating their hay, she was simply standing there with splayed legs, not eating. Her gait was uncoordinated. She was chewing and licking her lips.
If a ewe is off her feed near lambing, either she is in labor, or she is not feeling well and something is wrong. I know that Alice wasn't due yet, so I grabbed my sheep books and looked up "ketosis". Her symptoms were textbook. Ketosis is also known as "twin ewe disease" or "pregnancy toxemia". It can be a killer after the ewe is down. I am grateful I caught this early. After a drench of Power Punch, she began walking around and nibbling corn. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Alice will have to be monitored very closely until lambing.
Today, is day 146 for our own flock exposure. My lambing kit is put together, a small plastic bucket containing a roll of paper towels, iodine, ear tags, notebook & pen, and a rubber nasal suction thingy. I've rarely needed more than this to "do lambs". Stomach tubes, plastic lamb blankets, and my vet's phone number are on standby if needed.
I'll have to start frequent lamb checks, and get the jugs put together in anticipation of "Christmas in the spring", lambing here at Little Country Acres.


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Good to see a new post! I sheared my first two ewes two years ago, and you're right, it's not as easy as it looks. I have been using the fleeces, though. Great spinning practice when I was a newby! I am contemplating picking up a comb and blades and doing my own again, as I have so few and it is distressing to see them nicked by a professional.

Garrett808 said...

a head gate?? these are cattle!! My dad and I just grab them and they sit on my dad's lap while i trim hooves and give shots and take fleece samples!!

You are way too spoiled :)

Looks good though! Come and shear my sheep now will ya?!

Juliann said...

Hi Michelle! It is pretty difficult, but I'm hoping to get better with practice. A lot of people are shearing their own, and if they can do it, I can do it! :)

Garrett, lol! You don't want me shearing your sheep if you value your fleece, lol! Ours are on the burn pile.
The headgate was because I plan on eventually doing all sheep maintenance myself, with no help from the ol' man. And I mean everything! I want to de-worm, ear tag, vaccinate, shear, trim feet, etc. all by my lonesome, lambs or adults. It sure holds them still!

Alaska Shetland Shepherd said... look up Hypocalcaemia also. I tell all of my buyers that they should purchase MFO solution for late pregnancy or just after birthing 'milk fever' imbalance of calcium to phosphorous. I buy my MFO from Jeffers and keep a fresh bottle on hand year 'round as I freshen dairy goats all year long to keep us in milk for family use. The sugars and Vit B Complex used for Ketosis can give a boost, but might not be the actual repair needed. Merck Vet Manual online is a good source for more info. I sure hope that helps, your ewe may be fine now but if she shows any more signs, simply giving them MFO orally can really help and save the moms quickly. I have some big milk producers for my breed but it can happen even to the 'average' producer too. :-) Love your barn setup! Beautiful!

Becky Utecht said...

Congratulations on your gulmoget ram lamb Juliann. He's adorable, I would love one of those! Do you see any horn buds on him? Don't listen to Garrett, I LOVE your headgate set up. I thought that was really a cool way to go.

Kathy said...

Hiya, Julianne! I have to ask...what is "Power Punch"? We may have the same thing here, but under a different name.

May your lambing go smoothly! Can't wait to see more pictures!

Juliann said...

Hi Suzanne ( I hope I'm getting your name right?) :) I did buy some calcium at Farm & Fleet, it was only $2.50 for a big bottle. How and when to use it will be a Q. for my vet next time we chat! But sounds like good stuff to have on hand anyway.

Becky, no horn buds on any of the ram lambs so far, although realistically, I'm expecting scurs on some of them. Valora's little fellow looks like he'll be an Ag, though.

Kathy, Power Punch is a propolyn glycol (sp?) mixed with molasses and some other good stuff. It is not only a miracle worker for ketosis, I've also used it on a few weak newborns with excellent results. It is a real shot in the arm. I don't lamb without my Power Punch!

Dave said...

Yes, a 20 tooth comb is what I use for our Shetlands, Finns and Gotland X's... The 13 tends to bog down too much since the gap between the teeth is wider and it lets more of that really wool into each gap. I do have good success using the 13 tooth comb for our Scottixh Blackface as their wool is a LOT coarser... We (you and I) have never met before, although we do have some of your sheep. I am Franna's other half, Dave :)