Thursday, 15 October 2009
Getting ready for the ram
Yesterday we sorted the ewes ready to go to the ram, the week of the 26th October. Firstly we trimmed their feet, actually only Freda the Shropshire/Jacob shearling needed doing. Zwartbles seem to have remarkably good feet, or at least Annie does, which require very little attention.
Next we sponged them. This involves inserting a progesterone sponge into the vagina of the ewe to mimic pregnancy and arrest ovulation. When the sponge is withdrawn the progesterone levels drop and all the ewes treated come into heat at the same time. Synchronizing the mating like this is ideal if you borrow a ram for a limited time. It also, in turn, concentrates the lambing over a short period, which is helful if, as many smallholders do, you work full time. My friend usually likes to time her lambing for the Easter holidays but this year needs to be a couple of weeks earlier. Of course it not 100% fool proof, you always get a couple of ewes lambing early or a couple of stragglers, but on the whole it's helpful. Would I do it if I didn't send my ewes to my friend's ram...probably not.
Whilst at the yard my friend/vet also confirmed what I already knew, but needed someone else to say....Fred has to go.
His undershot jaw is too pronounced and although he is getting enough nutrition to stay alive, he's not getting enough to grow properly and things will only get worse. He has no covering of fat and although he is fine now he will struggle through the winter. We will keep him until I can arrange for Alfie the other lamb to go to slaughter and then I'll call the knackerman. It's an awful shame, Fred, has such a gentle character, unlike many bottle fed lambs, but he has too many things going against him.