Monday, October 20, 2008

Getting a "Jump" on Breeding Season

Sheep breeding season starts here at the end of October. I've already planned out all of my breeding groups of which rams are going to go with which ewes (click here if you want to see).

The rams have been getting "in the mood" for weeks now as their testosterone levels rise, jostling and shoving each other out in their pasture, and staring lustily through the fence whenever a ewe walks by. But most of the ewes are still happily ignoring their masculine antics, and will not be interested until November.

However, a few days ago I did notice that one of my new ewes, Rowena, was standing over by the ram pen, flirting with a crowd of delighted rams, who were making flirtatious little nickering sounds and licking her face through the mesh fence.

Early lambs usually grow and thrive better than late-born lambs, so I don't mind if a ewe is bred early---as long as I know exactly when she is bred. I try to be present for all my lamb births, and usually sleep in the barn during the main part of lambing season. I DON'T want to end up sleeping in the unheated barn all through the chilly month of March just on the off chance that some ewe MIGHT be lambing sometime.

But if I know exactly when a ewe is bred, I can predict much more closely when she is likely to lamb, and can just make a note in my calendar to check her frequently on those few particular days.

So, I decided to let Rowena breed early. With some difficulty, Ken and I extracted the right ram (Tut) from the group of eager suitors, and put the two lovers in together, where they proceeded to do the deed several times in quick succession.

Our new boss ram, Midas, was deeply offended that he was not the chosen one, and vented his frustration by repeatedly banging his head on the gatepost. An 8-inch thick wooden post, driven at least 2 feet into the ground, and it still shook when the 200-lb. ram hit it!

I shooed Midas away, letting him know that such tantrums were impolite and unwelcome, and that he would get his chance later.

After Tut and Rowena had exhausted themselves, we separated them and let them go back to their former pastures.

If the breeding took, we can expect our first lambs to be born around March 4-6. That's a whole month earlier than last year!


heather said...

I'm so glad you are posting again! I was faithful and checked almost everyday and lo and behold I was treated to month's worth of news yesterday! I'm glad all is relatively well! Midas is impressive, but I still love Nicholai the most! Thinking of you and Ken often. Love!

Adam Byrn "Adamus" Tritt said...

Sort of like a Moonie wedding. I tried this with my kids. No luck.