Monday, July 26, 2010

Teen-aged Lambs

When I was walking home from berry picking last night, I saw a few lambs running, jumping and twisting in the field.
The heat finally broke yesterday, and while I won't say it's cool, the change has many critters kicking up their heels.
I stopped and watched the lambs perform their evening zoomies. They seldom do that any more. The amount of evening play seems to correlate with their nursing.
When they relied on their moms for most of their nutrition, they had more time to play. Now, most of their calories come from grazing.
Now, the ewes' role is to provide comfort when sleeping and ruminating, and limited nursing. The lambs are getting too big for nursing, but they aren't quite ready to give it up completely.
They are about 100 days old and could easily be weaned by now.
Some farmers wean lambs at 60 days. However, to reduce chances of mastitis in the ewes, many opt for 90 days. Some wait until 120 days.
Last year, we weaned at 120 days (four months) because we didn't want to chance a ram lamb breeding with a ewe. Then, we only separated the ram lambs from their mothers. The ewe lambs were left to nurse. By five months (150 days), the ewe lambs had weaned themselves.
Because the ram lambs are castrated, they will be left with the flock this year.
(Pictured are the lambs nursing this past week.)

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