Friday, September 17, 2010

gOTTa get the ram in

I meant to write this post a couple of weeks ago, but I am just now getting around to it now. 

Labor Day Weekend growing up back home, usually meant one thing.... we would be doing some kind of farm labor.  And usually that labor involved the family's flock of purebred Shropshire sheep.  I personally didn't tend to mind it too much as I always enjoyed working with animals.  Around this time of year, the state fair would be over and the weather would start to get a little bit cooler so it was an ideal time to put the rams (male sheep) in with the brood ewes (female sheep).  Sheep are seasonal breeders. Their fertility increases as the length of daylight decreases (photoperiod). They breed in the fall, carry the lambs for 5 months and then deliver the baby lambs in the spring.  We tend to like our lambs to come in the months of February and March.  This is mainly due to the show season and allows us to get the lambs to a good market weight by the time 4-Hers' need them for summer shows.  On our farm we wait until a ewe is almost 2 years old before they get bred for the first time.   

One ram will get one group of ewes (a flock) and the age of the ram, depended on how many ewes we put in with him.  A younger ram would get 12-15 ewes while an older ram could get 25-30 ewes.  Back when I was still at home we would run 3 flocks in 3 different fields nowadays we just have one flock.  My job was to help determine which ewes got put with which ram.  To do this I would look over our flock records and see what blood lines our ewes had.  I would then compare what kind of offspring the ewes had in the past with what strengths that ewe possessed in the terms of frame, carcass traits and breed characteristics (basically I would play Match Maker) and then place her with a ram that would complement her strengths to give us the best offspring.
While we were sorting the ewes we would usually use this time to deworm the flock.  Sheep eat a lot of grass and can easily get internal parasites, which cause the animal to lose their appetite or become ill.  Not to worry though, because a good shepherd will deworm their sheep a couple times a year to prevent this from happening and now is a great time to deworm, since you are getting ready to put the sheep out to pasture.
Once the ewes are sorted and dewormed it's time to add the ram and put them out in a nice pasture with plenty of grass, shade trees and clean drinking water.  The flock will stay there until it starts to snow, which is usually around Christmas or New Years. 

I blogged a little bit today about things that happen on my farm, but for a weekly dose of farm life be sure to check out Farmer Fridays on 3 Kids and Lots of Pigs.  She gives factual information about life on a hog and grain farm.

This post was linked to Saturdays On the Farm.

"Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness."  -Thomas Jefferson


Lana said...

Sis you ever have trouble with coyotes? We have a sheep farmer not too far away who has a couple llamas out with his sheep to protect them from such predators.

Sounds like there is a lot of farmer still in you when it comes to the sheep. Glad you can still work with them when you want to.

Kayla said...

wow! i did not realize there was so much that went into breeding. I was in 4-H. I loved it!

PS I love the header

ann said...

Wow you just gave me some information about sheep I didn't know very good. I could tell you that about cattle but I didn't know about sheep. Always like to read your blog

Jent said...

One of our really close friends raises sheep and it is one of my kids' favorite things to do is go over there during lambing! My oldest begs to show a lamb every year but our barn is full of their calves!

Hanna said...

I'm your newest follower from Friday blog hop. Lovely blog;) you can find me at

Katie @ On the Banks of Squaw Creek said...

So I'm confused...if you only have "one flock" how do you match up the rams and ewes now? Will they stay in the pasture till snow only after you've done the matchmaking? Or do you not match them anymore - just throw the ram in?

myfingerscrossed said...

i must say, this post is interesting and looking forward to what you'll share on here about farm life. have a nice weekend! :)

Terry said...

Wow, farming is a whole lot of work. Very interesting post.

I am a new follower from Boost My Blog Friday. I would appreciate it if you could boost me back.

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I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

God Bless You ~Ron


I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

God Bless You ~Ron

Cris Goode said...

I will now call you the match maker... forevermore!

Sofia said...

Found you over @ FF. I'm your new follower! Come visit and follow back!

From PDX with Love"

Life with the Lebedas said...

I know it's Monday but I'm still hopping from Friday ... I'm your newest follower from Friday Follow!

Jennifer @ Life with the Lebedas