Sheep are seasonal breeders. Oh, yeah.... you all are probably wondering what the heck that means, aren't you? Simply put, most ewes come into "heat" or "season" in August when the days begin getting shorter. Ewes come into "estrus" every two weeks or so. Their gestation period is five months. In the past, we have always kept our rams in with our ewes all year round. Lambs usually began arriving around Christmas and things really got busy in January. This year, since we have so many different groups of sheep and several different rams, we decided to get a little more organized and control which ram breeds which group of sheep. In June, we separated the 4 rams and sent them on holiday to a pasture in Bernardston far, far away from the mature ewes.
A couple weeks ago, The Farmer brought the Border Leicester and Romney rams up to the group of mature ewes. The ewes were in heat and the boys got busy. In this same group, we also had some older ewe lambs (they were born in January). On Sunday, we penned the entire group up and spent a few hours separating the ewe lambs from the flock.
We moved them in two groups in our trailer down to our field in Bernardston where a Cheviot ram and a cross-bred Dorset/Texel ram lamb were waiting. The ewe lambs will be bred to these smaller sheep. The theory behind this is that the smaller ewes will have smaller babies and it will be easier for them to deliver. Of course, some of the ewe lambs may already have been bred by the Romney and Border Leicester, depending if they were mature enough. This photo is of a Border Leicester Cross ewe lamb. I think she is quite beautiful. I love the open face.
We have another flock of younger sheep in the fields outside our farmhouse and that is just a giant breeding free-for-all. These are the lambs that we are growing out for our meat business and they are much smaller thus probably not mature enough to be become pregnant. We'll be keeping most of the girls for replacement breeding ewes but the boys will be going into our meat business.
We'll see how all this goes next February when the lambs start arriving. In the meantime, the sheep continue to graze the fields and fertilize as they go.
I guess that is more than you probably want to know about sheep production for today. If you want to learn more, check out this web-page. If you are into Facebook and want to become a "fan" of Leyden Glen Lamb, here's the link for our farm Facebook page.