Lamb advice

blessedfarmgirl

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I have a ewe who I'm culling this year, not sure when. She's really, really skinny, always has been, and she's super narrow as well, no depth, no width and no meat. She also had trouble producing enough milk for her lamb last year, he came out just as stunted and skinny as she is. She should have been culled already, but she got pregnant again and I figured I might as well let her have one more lamb first. I was wondering if I should try to bottle the lamb(s) to see if I get better growth on them. Do you think that it would be a waste of money and milk since the poor genetics are there, or do you think it might be worthwhile? If she has twins I'm pulling one to bottle for sure since she hardly had enough milk last year for one, and she has a tiny udder. Let me know what y'all think.

My ram is very well built and proportioned, so there might be potential for improvement, I'm just not sure how much of her first lamb's problems were nutrition related or genetics related. I should also add that she lambed in May, it was already getting hot, and that may have negatively impacted her supply and his growth. (I don't think parasites are involved, she has always been one of my most parasite resistant ewes, her lamb is the same)
 

Baymule

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No point in keeping her lambs. Best to cull the whole line. You can care for a feed a good ewe as easy as wasting feed and care on a poor ewe that is not going to give you good lambs.

How many ewes do you have and what is your goal for them?
 

blessedfarmgirl

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So I should just let her wean the lamb then cull both? Or cull sooner? (She's due on the 11th)

I have 7 ewes. 5 are Katahdin/gulf coast crosses we got from someone in Arkansas. They are slightly smaller built than a full Katahdin. 2 are Katahdin with a bit of dorper and st. Croix. They are bigger. I want to buy a registered ram and breed up to registered eventually. My ram now is a decent looking Katahdin mutt, and his lambs all look better than their dams, so he is improving my line, but I want to get rid of the Gulf Coast small body structure. I was going to make a separate thread about this sooner than later because I have no idea how breeding up to registered would work, and I need to figure out how my cull schedule will work since I can't keep more than ten ewes at a time.
 

Baymule

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Whether to cull now or after weaning is your decision. If she looks as skinny as you have described, she probably won’t bring much. She is so close to lambing, that I wouldn’t sell her now. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and just take what you can get and move on. You could sell her with a maybe 2-3 week old lamb or wean, then sell.

I’m breeding up now. Plus I have 9 registered ewes and 3 registered rams. All together I have 3 rams, 30 ewes and 8 lambs. Have 15 ewes due in March and April.

Since you are restricted to 10 ewes, you get a registered ram, breed to your ewes. Keep the ewe lambs. Breed them back to their sire. Sell him and get another registered ram.

You can breed father/daughter ONE generation. That way you can use your ram for two breeding seasons. Keep ewe lambs, breed to new ram.

Third generation is eligible for registration if they pass hair coat inspection. It is on the Katahdin web site


You record the first generation by filling out the forms found on the web site and sending it in. You will get a recorded certificate for that sheep. They must have an ear tag number. It will go on their certificate.

Then you record the second generation, same way, using the first generation ewe’s number from the certificate.

Then the third generation, same way. It is explained on the site.

Each time you record a ewe, say first generation, you sell her mom. First generation produces a second generation lamb, you keep the lamb, sell the mom. That way, you can grade up and keep your numbers down.

I hope this explanation helps you. If you have questions, I’ll try my best to answer them for you or refer you to where you can get the information you need.
 

blessedfarmgirl

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That was extremely helpful, @Baymule! I've been puzzling over how I'm going to go about my breeding plan for weeks, and you spelling it out and clarifying some things really helped me figure it out. Thanks for taking the time to help out a newbie! 😄

I never thought about selling her with the lamb, I might try it. If she doesn't sell I'll have to wean the lamb and butcher her.
 

Ridgetop

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I never thought about selling her with the lamb, I might try it. If she doesn't sell I'll have to wean the lamb and butcher her.
Don't bother with weaning. Run her through the auction. Take her to Emory.

When you are limited to lower numbers of sheep/goats/cattle, etc. you need to cull heavily and often. You said she is a poor meat quality ewe, and produces lambs that are also poor quality, so you had already decided to cull her and all her lambs. The only question is when to sell. You only kept her because she got bred, she is due in 3 weeks, you might as well lamb her out. I would sell her after she lambs with lambs at side instead of spending $$$ on replacer or supplements to bottle raise any of her lamb(s). She will bring more with lambs at side and her thin appearance will be put down to recent lambing. Since she singled last time she may also single this time.

While it's tempting to keep her and her lamb(s) till weaning hoping to make more $$ for the additional weaned lamb(s), you need to balance the probable sale price against the cost of feeding her until she weans the lamb(s) along with the added cost of supplementing the lamb(s) and ewe to produce enough milk. You are in east Texas with cold temps, rain, and ice so are feeding hay - no pasture for several months. If you try to put the lambs on supplemental bottles the replacer will add to the cost with no return.

Easter is March 31 this year so I would run her and her lambs through the auction no later than March 10 to sell for the best price. If the auction wants to separate the lambs for a better price they can do so. Very young milk fed BBQ lambs are popular at Easter. Hispanic families often buy them, let the children make pets of them, then butcher them for Easter. With luck you may get a good price at that time.
 

farmerjan

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Whether she seems to be one of the most parasite resistant ones, I would worm her and hit her with a strong dose...I am thinking there is more there than you are seeing....
Get her lambed out, bottle raise the lambs... see if she can regain some weight to make her more saleable... Or do as suggested and sell together...
Take them to the stockyard and get what you get and be done with that line... or if the poor lamb last year was stunted due to lack of milk production, then a lamb (or lambs) should do better on bottles this time around. Regardless, if they are only mediocre, then get rid of the whole line anyway....
I would not try to sell CL or anything direct... take her to the auction/sale barn where it is buyer beware for anyone that buys them. Probably she will go for slaughter anyway at the sale barn... Easter is the last Sunday in March... if the lambs do okay/better on bottles, then they ought to be worth more getting to the season...
 

Ridgetop

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Selling at auction is the easiest way to sell. No bothering with ads in CL. No bothering with people that are just looky-loos (some people will come out with no intention of buying just to give the kids a free "petting zoo" trip.) No bothering with people that make an appointment and don't show up when you wait in all day for them. No bothering with people that try to talk you down in price. No bothering with people that call you later to complain about the animal or try to return it. (Yes, this does happen.) When you sell at the auction everyone knows that no guarantees as to health, type, breed, etc. are being made. All sales are "As Is" and "Buyer Beware".

Check online for the auction barn in your area. Call to see what days they sell small livestock - sheep and goats. There is one in Emory. If the poultry sale you talked about in Gilmer is held in a sale barn find out if and when their small stock auction is held.

Load the animal(s) up and take them to the sale barn early on the morning of the auction. Unload where they tell you and fill out the sale paperwork with address and phone number. If you don't want to watch the auction, go home. The check will be mailed to you. The sale barn takes a commission of about 10% plus a small charge for "yardage". If you can't go the morning of the sale, they will often take the animals a day or so in advance.
 

Baymule

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I went to the auction an Emory many times. Sheep and goat auction starts at 9:00 AM on Saturdays. They have a Tuesday sale also, but the Saturday sale is better. They have a cafe also, serve a good breakfast. It would be educational for you to go watch the auction so you have an understanding of how it works. When you check in, you tell them that you will pick up the check and it is ready when the sale is over. It usually lasts about 2 hours. Then they sell cattle but you don’t have to wait on them to be finished, just sheep and goats.

You will need a scrapie tag. Register with the USDA for your scrapie number. They will send you 100 free tags, you just have to order the applicator.


Scrapie is a terrible disease that strikes sheep and goats. It is all but eradicated in the USA, but not completely gone. The tag identifies the animal and where it came from.
 

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