Lambing starts at the beginning of March with 350 ewes due to lamb in 4 weeks; 50 Lleyn ewe lambs will lamb in the 1st half of April. All ewes are housed and will lamb indoors and then turned out to grass with their lambs soon after they have given birth. The next fortnight is the “quiet before the storm!”
All lambs are weighed at birth and ewes given a score as to whether they were assisted while having their lambs. Over the past 5 years I only have had a difficult lambing in about 1 in every 80 ewes, so the majority give birth on their own. Any ewes that are assisted while having their lambs are identified and culled later in the year. The aim is not to assist ewes while they lamb and only go in as a last resort. By selecting ewes on “ease of lambing”, I have reduced the number of assisted births considerably since I formed the Lleyn flock here 17 years ago.
All lambs will be electronically tagged at birth and their tag number, birth weight and ewes tag number recorded on a handheld computer in the lambing shed. All this information will be downloaded onto my laptop every evening. It is essential that I have accurate breeding records for every animal, for future planning for myself and also customers who are looking for specific bloodlines when purchasing breeding animals.
There is a camera in the sheep shed that I can access on my Iphone, Ipad and laptop. I only have a lambing assistant during the day, so at night I can scan the shed remotely from the house every hour and only go out as necessary. I have been using a camera for over 5 years and find that the ewes are far more settled at night as I am not disturbing them every hour, plus I get more short spells of sleep. The body soon becomes accustomed to power naps of 40 minutes, however, sleep deprivation over a period of time becomes more difficult as you get older!!
Weather is critical for lamb survival rate at lambing time. Good weather means grass growth and ewes producing good milk. This means lambs grow quickly and more importantly, are healthy. Bad weather means that ewes need to be fed more to produce milk and lambs do not do well if they are permanently wet and cold. Lets hope for a good Spring.