On farms across the English-speaking world, the term used to describe the birthing and raising of sheep is lambing. The best chance for lambs to survive and thrive is when the weather is mild and grass is plentiful, and for that reason, in the northern hemisphere, Mother Nature decreed that autumn would be the season for sheep to mate, so that their lambs could be born in the springtime.
Yet, according to Emily Ruckert, an Oregon State University graduate with a degree in animal science, with modern farming technology this is not a hard and fast rule. “In nature, lambs are born in the spring, but we do it in the winter,” Emily said when asked about the best time of year for lambs to be born. “By summer all the babies are gone and we can breed again in July.”
While Nature does most of the heavy lifting, on the farm a successful lambing season still depends on the knowledge and experience of the sheep farmer. In previous blogs we have discussed:
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It follows, then, that a moving picture must be worth at least a million. Below are ten of our favorite, most informative YouTube videos on lambing, by sheep farmers whose knowledge of the subject ranges from the beginner to the expert.
Continue reading “Ten of Our Favorite Lambing Season Videos”
As sheep (along with dogs) were among the first animals to be domesticated by human beings, it stands to reason that we have collectively accumulated a vast amount of information about raising and caring for these animals. For centuries this knowledge has been added to and passed down orally, from generation to generation. Then, with the advent of the printing press and the scientific method, our knowledge about the raising of sheep was able to be refined and preserved.
Like all ancient crafts, the raising and breeding of sheep is best learned by doing, in a hands-on manner, overseen by an experienced mentor. It does not lend itself well to pure book-learning by itself. And of the many different aspects of raising sheep, surely one of the most fraught and ticklish is the matter of lambing. Lambing, of course, is the act of a ewe (female sheep) giving birth to a baby lamb. A successful lambing season demands deep biological knowledge, familiarity with the personality of the ewe, the patience of a saint, and nerves of steel. Even then, so much can go wrong.
In that event, the sheep farmer—even the most seasoned—may find him/herself at the limit of their knowledge. If a trusted vet is not immediately available to assess the problem, it is up to the sheep farmer to solve it. The books listed below may be of assistance and should be ever-present in the sheep farmer’s barnyard library. Continue reading “5 Essential Books for Lambing Season”
We typically associate lambing season with springtime. Yet many who keep sheep find that lambing can begin as early as December. Whatever time of year your lambing season begins, it is vital to plan ahead. Preparing well for lambing season will optimize the number of newborn lambs and help keep your flock healthy. Key preparations boil down to:
- Proper management and feeding of the sheep
- Readying the barn
- Stocking up on needed supplies
Here are a few tips for preparing for a successful lambing season. Continue reading “It’s Not Too Early to Prepare for Lambing Season”