Lambing is well under way and thank goodness all lambs born so far have been fit and healthy with no signs of the Schmallenberg virus being present.
In past years when feeding concentrate to ewes indoors I have used sheep rolls instead of nuts and thrown them onto the straw for the ewes to eat. I find feeding sheep this way prevents pushing and shoving that occurs when trough feeding. The ewes also spend many hours during the day ferreting around in the straw for food, thereby not getting bored. The one problem I found when feeding rolls was that older and younger ewes had problems eating them and many ewes that had recently lambed were not interested in them. I was also hesitant to throw nuts onto the straw as I was worried that due to the size of the nut there would be a lot of wastage and this concerned me with the price of concentrate feed going up year on year. This year I made the decision to use sheep nuts and I have been very impressed with the results. All the feed is eaten up with very little wastage and the ewes are producing lots of milk.
Nearly all the Blue Texels have lambed. The majority have lambed on their own and the lambs have been up on their feet and sucking in no time. The ewes are very good mothers which makes my job much easier. One ewe had to have a caesarian as she had two big lambs inside her with one lamb twisted. There was not enough room to untwist the lamb and deliver it normally so the decision was made to get the lambs out by surgery.
The Lleyns are also lambing and again they lamb on their own and my main job is moving ewes and lambs to individual pens and weighing and tagging lambs for recording purposes. Like past years, I only have to assist roughly 1 in a 100 ewes that lamb.
We have a thriving lamb bar at present. I only put 2 lambs on a ewe so a ewe that has three lambs has one spare. This lamb will be reared artificially using powdered milk.
The camera in the sheep shed has revolutionized lambing for me, especially at nights. I can scan the shed from my computer or smart phone and do not have to continually go out to the shed, thereby disturbing the sheep. As an example, last night my alarm went off at 2am. I scanned the shed and saw that a few ewes had lambed, all the lambs were OK and with their mothers, so I reset the alarm for 5.30am so I could sort everything out before feeding. Now that we have been lambing for a couple of weeks, the lambing pens have thinned out so there is room for a ewe to find a space away from the others to lamb.
I try to turn ewes and lambs out onto grass as soon as possible after birth but I do make sure there is are forecast of 48 hours dry weather after turnout. The grass is not growing yet, however, I luckily have enough hay and silage to see me through.
Now I am waiting for warmer weather. It will not only make the grass grow but do me some good as well!