Sunday, March 07, 2010

Spring work.

The most wonderful time of the year will soon be upon us. As usual, one of the first signs of spring here at Little Country is North Wind Netty starts sporting her trendy spring fashion accessory, "the bag". I couldn't be happier to be gifted with a Coach or a Gucci. Hoping for an incredible moorit ewe (or two) from Netty, by Eragon. Netty will be nine years old this year, retirement isn't far off for her.

We are due to start lambing in about a month. Performing "spring work" on the sheep is an annual ritual, and this is about the time when I always do it. The flock is gathered using a series of gates, and crowded into subsequently smaller areas until I can wade in and attend to each one without having to chase them and stress them. Each ewe is caught up, condition checked, and eye membrane color is evaluated. With the exception of one ewe, everyone is nice and pink or red. No one feels thin, everyone is full of spunk and energy.
Each ewe is carefully tipped, given a CD&T vaccination in the armpit, and the hooves are trimmed. The vaccination will give passive immunity to the lambs. Most of the girls needed hoof trimming, some didn't. I dewormed the ewe lambs only, I'll do the brood ewes in the jugs after they lamb.
I was relieved to see that at least a representative group from each breeding group shows a sign of budding bags. Some just have a little swelling, or a pink tinge around the teats. So all the boys have lead in the pencil. Jolly good.
After a break, time to let the girls out and do the boys. Before I released each ewe, I locked their head in the stanchion and carefully selected fleece samples off the last rib. Good thing I got all this done yesterday, today it's raining and I need dry samples. Each sample will be sent to Texas A&M for "quality assurance testing" otherwise known as micron testing. I'm doing the entire flock this year, young and old alike. Hey, why not? I'm expecially curious to see if there is a difference between spring and fall samples. Inquring minds want to know, and I have an inquiring mind. Can't help that, it's one of the things I like about myself. :)

I was planning on doing spring work on the boys next weekend, but when I was finished with the ewe flock, I decided to go ahead and knock the boys out. Sometimes once I start doing something, I can't stop. Occasionally that includes house cleaning, which is a good thing. Or eating Girl Scout cookies.

The mature rams are too heavy for me to flip, so I wrestled them into the stanchion and lifted their hooves as a farrier would a horse. I work on the more dominant rams first, so I have less worry of being bonked while my attention is divided. Vaccination, fleece sample, then a brisket rub and turn them out.
My rams are awesome. I just love them.
On the other hand, I'm dreading some of the ewe's micron test results. Not all of them, but some of them are not the direction I'm wanting to go. The best rams in the world aren't going to do any good if I can't get all my ewes finer fleeced.
I'll start the sheep on a three week course of a coccidiostat now, that will give us a good head start on knocking the little buggers down. We did this last year and it worked real well for us.
That's all for now, have a wonderful week.


Michelle said...

Good show, Juliann! Is Valbezen safe for worming just-freshened ewes? I think that is what I have on hand. Trimming hooves is on my day's to-do list (along with dog toenails). I have three girls due around the end of this month; all looking promising. Maybe I'll get my full-poll this year!

Juliann said...

Hi Michelle, we've used it right after lambing with no problems at all. It's certain times during pregnancy when it can cause malformed or slipped lambs.
Happy lambing, I'll be keeping an eye to see what you have this year. I'm getting pretty excited myself!

Karen Valley said...

Actually having to use Valbazen to combat liver/deer flukes where we live I have found that the window to cause malformations is in the second week of pregnancy, so it is relatively safe as long as you know when your ewes were bred. Anytime before or after that there have been no issues.