It hardly seems like two minutes since our last puppy went to its new home and already we a welcoming the next batch of new-borns to our home as we started lambing this weekend.
Over the years, we have steadily built up our flock of Pedigree South-Down Sheep and anticipate that we will have up to 30 this spring.
Unlike a full time farmer, I have work commitments at the surgery so we are unable to supervise our sheep 24/7. We therefore try to manage our flock so that they all lamb at the same time.
Back in October, we used a hormone implant to synchronise all our ewes. This allows us to precisely control the timing of ovulation. Our Tup, who is called Augustus, wears a harness with a marker crayon which leaves a coloured mark on the rump of the ewes he has mated. We changed the colour of the crayon 4 weeks later to see if any ewes came back into season and were mated again. This year, all the ewes had blue marks on their rump within 12 hours of receiving their hormone treatment and we had no ewes who were marked the following month suggesting that they had returned to season so we assumed that they were all pregnant.
Sheep’s gestation period is 144 days and so they were all predicted to lamb this weekend. Despite regularly checking the lambing field every hour or so, nothing happened on Saturday. On Saturday night, the alarm was set at 2 hourly intervals but still, by dawn nothing had happened. Suddenly, at lunch time on Sunday, the first ewe found a quiet corner of the field and during a snowstorm, two strong little ewe lambs were born. A few of the other sheep crowded round to look and that must have stimulated their hormones and suddenly, more were lambing.
We tend to lamb our ewes outside in the field, then dip the lamb’s navels in iodine to prevent infection and move the ewe and lambs into the shed for a few days before turning them out again on a fine day.
After a flurry of activity during the worst of the weather on Sunday, we are still waiting for the last four ewes to lamb so our sleep will continue to be broken for a few nights to come!