Bred Too Young?

Cotton*wood

Loving the herd life
Joined
Jun 21, 2021
Messages
73
Reaction score
115
Points
103
Location
Eastern Kansas
What happens when sheep are bred too young? It seemed way too much trouble to separate out the three younger ewe lambs from the rest of the flock, especially for a whole month and a half. They're being rotationally grazed, and it's a lot of bother. I assumed (hoped) that the three young ones wouldn't be going through estrus, and so the ram would leave them alone. Alas. Those three are about seven months old, and they seem to be very fertile, and it's too late now. They're a LOT smaller than the other four ewe lambs, who are ten months old. But it's too late now.

So what can I expect??? Is there a chance they might actually not get pregnant? Or might they abort? Or might they just have difficult births? Is their (the ewe lambs) growth going to be permanently stunted? I really wish I'd separated them.....

(They're Katahdins, by the way.)
 
Last edited:

Mini Horses

Herd Master
Joined
Sep 4, 2015
Messages
5,088
Reaction score
14,111
Points
538
Location
S coastal VA
Now you know! More than likely they will kid a single. The one who gets stunted is the one now bred too young. 😔. So I HOPE there is a separate ram pen now! A sad lesson for you.
 

Margali

True BYH Addict
Joined
Apr 23, 2011
Messages
276
Reaction score
799
Points
238
Location
Fort Worth, TX area
For this misbreed, there a medicine that can be used abort the pregancies if you deem it neccessary. You would need to weigh importance of the young ewes maturing correctly vs vet/med cost vs personal ethics. 🤷‍♀️
 

farmerjan

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
6,360
Reaction score
22,233
Points
628
Location
Shenandoah Valley Virginia
It is very possible they will have some growth stunted. We have it in the cattle if a heifer gets bred too young.

How long has it been since they were bred? If less than 6 weeks or so, they can get a shot of lutalyse and it will "abort them" ... at that short a period of time, they basically will just slip the tiny little bit of fetus and then come back into heat.
Katahdins are one of the breeds that will come in heat easier and more regularly, than some other breeds that are considered photo estrus. Meaning, many hair breeds will show heat cycles more often throughout the year, whereas many of the wool breeds will mostly come in heat in the fall so they start cycling more when the days get shorter and then carry their pregnancy through the winter to lamb in the spring when the conditions are more conducive to producing more milk and the lambs growing better coinciding with grass growth etc.,,,

We always have the ram lambs separated out by 4 months if not before.... they have been known to breed back their mothers if they start to cycle and we have not gotten them out. Our dall sheep tend to be less likely to come in heat in the spring/summer, which is contrary to some other hair breeds, but they are closer to "wild type" sheep and so the genetics for fall or photoestrus breeding is more common with them. But we have had our share of "OOOPS" babies too.
Band or cut them as babies. Then there is no big problem. Keep a wether and keep him with the ram when you are not specifically using him for breeding.
 

Cotton*wood

Loving the herd life
Joined
Jun 21, 2021
Messages
73
Reaction score
115
Points
103
Location
Eastern Kansas
My whole flock is ewes. We did band our one ram lamb, and have since sent him to the butcher. We brought in a ram to breed the ewes and big ewe lambs (just about full size), but I didn't realize that the three young ones would be ready to breed. I'm wondering if I do that (get the shot), and have them in an adjacent paddock, that the ram might try to go through the electric fence to get to them.....

How much growth stunted? Do you think it will cause a problem with lambing? Or for future pregnancies?
 

Baymule

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
24,301
Reaction score
63,066
Points
833
Location
Northeast Texas
Some Katahdin breeders will breed at 7 months. The registry won’t accept registration on lambs born to ewes younger than 6 months.

Personally I like to wait until 8-10 months, usually 10 months.

If your ewes are bred at 7 months, that’s right on the line. Most breeders that breed that young have lambs that grow off and are good sized by then. You say your 3 are small, so probably not going to be a good thing. It may very well stunt their growth. Or not. They may be just fine. It may take longer for them to reach full size. It’s a crap shoot.

You can make pens with cow panels and T-posts. Gates are half a cow panel. They go up fast and easy and come down fast and easy.

You will know better next time. It’s all a learning experience.
 

farmerjan

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
6,360
Reaction score
22,233
Points
628
Location
Shenandoah Valley Virginia
If you are using electrified netting, then it is unlikely the ram will go through.... but it has to be good and "HOT" to make sure they are respecting the fence. If you are using 2 or more strands as the fencing, then it is likely he will go through.
There is no way to know what effect being bred "too young" will produce. If they grow good in the next few months, they might do okay. If they are small now, then it is a toss up. Hopefully they will have a small lamb, preferable a single for a first time "young" mom.
I would not hazard a guess without seeing them in person. I think it is a toss up on giving them shots all according to how long since you think they got bred. If you are done with the ram, send him back home (I am assuming you have leased him for the breeding season). If not too long since they got bred, give the shots and hope they abort. If the ram is gone then you don't have to worry about it anyway.
You can just ship the 3 small ewe lambs for meat now... and then you have a clean slate to breeding your sheep next year. Then just make sure that any ewe lambs you keep are kept totally sequestered from the ram so they don't get bred too soon. If you are only keeping a few, dry lotting them for the 60 days you have the ram for breeding, is not that big of a deal. 3-6 ewe lambs will not eat you out of house and home in hay and limited grain for the time you need to keep them away from the ram; then after he goes home they can go back into the group for rotational grazing and make things easier for you.
Unless there is something in the couple of small ewe lambs that you are really wanting to keep as in a specific bloodline... I think you would be as well off to just ship them, get a fair paycheck for them, get rid of the possible future problems, and then do things better next year. You will have ewe lambs to pick from to keep next year for breeders.
 
Last edited:

Cotton*wood

Loving the herd life
Joined
Jun 21, 2021
Messages
73
Reaction score
115
Points
103
Location
Eastern Kansas
If you are using electrified netting, then it is unlikely the ram will go through.... but it has to be good and "HOT" to make sure they are respecting the fence. If you are using 2 or more strands as the fencing, then it is likely he will go through.
There is no way to know what effect being bred "too young" will produce. If they grow good in the next few months, they might do okay. If they are small now, then it is a toss up. Hopefully they will have a small lamb, preferable a single for a first time "young" mom.
I would not hazard a guess without seeing them in person. I think it is a toss up on giving them shots all according to how long since you think they got bred. If you are done with the ram, send him back home (I am assuming you have leased him for the breeding season). If not too long since they got bred, give the hots and hope they abort. If the ram is gone then you don't have to worry about it anyway.
You can just ship the 3 small ewe lambs for meat now... and then you have a clean slate to breeding your sheep next year. Then just make sure that any ewe lambs you keep are kept totally sequestered from the ram so they don't get bred too soon. If you are only keeping a few, dry lotting them for the 60 days you have the ram for breeding, is not that big of a deal. 3-6 ewe lambs will not eat you out of house and home in hay and limited grain for the time you need to keep them away from the ram; then after he goes home they can go back into the group for rotational grazing and make things easier for you.
Unless there is something in the couple of small ewe lambs that you are really wanting to keep as in a specific bloodline... I think you would be as well off to just ship them, get a fair paycheck for them, get rid of the possible future problems, and then do things better next year. You will have ewe lambs to pick from to keep next year for breeders.
Thanks. Yes, electric net fence, and yes, very hot. Unfortunately, not done with the ram, as he's only been in there for five days, but I think I have a plan. Yes, I got those three particular ewe lambs on purpose, and really want to keep them for breeding--NEXT year. I can make a place to dry-lot them until we send the ram back home. I'm going to call the vet tomorrow.....
 

farmerjan

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
6,360
Reaction score
22,233
Points
628
Location
Shenandoah Valley Virginia
Sounds like you have a plan. If you have only had the ram for 5 days, then you will be good to give them a shot to prevent them from being pregnant. Talking to the vet is the way to go. I am hoping this vet is an experience large animal vet as opposed to just "pets". They have to be at least 10-14 days after the breeding for the lute to work because sooner than that it will not cause the shift in hormones. We always wait at least 3 weeks in the cattle; sometimes you get lucky and they don't settle... but since they are ewe lambs you want to use, and it is such a short time since the ram got to them, giving them a shot and getting them to cycle again and then keeping them away is the way to go and then they will get the growth you want and you can breed them to lamb when it is healthy for them and time wise, right for you.
Glad that you are on top of this in this way. Hope that you can get things worked out. Will be glad to offer "opinions" because I am not a vet but we have alot of years with sheep in general. Here's hoping that the vet will be able to assist you and that you can get them straightened out and held over for next year. :fl:fl
 

Latest posts

Top