Well it’s official we have started lambing. As we expected the weather did turn, it snowed and rained when they started lambing, writes Frances Graham.
When I got up on the morning that it had snowed I just thought what disasters are we going to have today, expecting the worst, but it actually turned out to be not so bad. We didn’t lose a lamb the day it snowed, we were very lucky that they were only just due so there wasn’t that many lambing.
All the sheep lamb outside and if there are any problems such as a sheep not taking a lamb or a weak lamb then they are brought inside and put in a pen until they can be turned back outside.
The day before it snowed and the sheep were due we set up some pens inside for the ones that needed to come in if they had problems. We decided to do some concreting before as there were a few pens that just had a hard core base. There is nothing wrong with just having a hard core base, but concreting them out makes it easier to clean the pens out and also can help prevent infections. If there are any infections it is easier to disinfect the concrete pens rather than hard core pens. We rushed doing this, but we haven’t even used the pens yet as there haven’t been many problems up to now.
The first flock of sheep that lamb are the Masham ewes - a cross breed out of a Dalesbred ewe by a Tesswater tup. We put all these ewes to the Texel tup and a few to a Beltex tup, these produce good lambs that we sell as fat lambs from August. This year we have kept a few Dales Mules which are lambing and they seem to be making work. My Dad said that they seem a bit flighty compared to the Masham. All the lambs that are born have their navels done with iodine and the twins have a number put on so that if they get miss mothered they can be mothered back up. The last few Dales Mules that have lambed have turned against one lamb, which makes more work. We bring them inside and then fasten them up by the head so that they can’t butt the lamb then after a day we let them go when I have my dog Fly out to make sure that they take the lamb(s). Having the dog around makes them concentrate more on the dog then the lamb(s) so normally they take the lambs(s).
Now the Dalesbred ewes are due which have been put to the Blue face leister and Teeswater tups. These aren’t lambing fast at all they are very steady. I do like the Masham lambs better than then Dales Mules, they seem a bit hardier than the Dales Mule. However there are disadvantages to the Masham as the lambs generally take more out of the ewes than the Dales Mules(need more food/milk) also when it comes to selling the lambs there can be a big price difference. Although we don’t sell any of these lambs until the end of September the Mashams can sometimes be worth £20 a head less than the Dales Mule. So we haven’t put that many to the Teeswater, just enough so there are some for us to keep and breed off and then just enough to sell and not end up with lambs that are worth so much less than others.
We don’t start with the ones put to the pure bred tup until this next weekend, we try to stagger the start dates out for the sheep as then we don’t have a big rush all at once, we try to make this slightly easier. The pure breds are a lot easier to deal with and normally have less problems as these lambs don’t take that much looking after (they don’t need a lot of milk). The singles can be left to it and there are rarely problems.