Taking Lambs To Slaughter

Baymule

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Our lamb loading has a lot to be desired. We have invited our friend over to help us catch and carry lambs to the trailer, it took 2 or 3 of us, that worked, not great, but it worked. I have tackled them in the lot, slipped a halter on them and led/dragged them to the trailer with me pulling and BJ pushing. That also works, again not great. We have put up 2 cow panels coming out of the sheep barn, to a trailer, then chased them into our crappy chute and lifted/dragged to the trailer.

I have plans for that elusive "someday" loading chute that will miraculously be attached to the barn and be in a place that is easy to back the trailer to. Those plans are in my head, nobody can see them, they are subject to change and they are not implemented yet. Temporary is my magic word. Cow panels, bits of wire, hay string and pallets are marvelous inventions. :bow

I formulated yet another invisible temporary loading chute in my head. I'll pause for a moment so y'all can feel sorry for BJ. We generally tie up, :somad argue, fight and yell :rant at each other because he can't read invisible head plans and thinks his ideas are better than mine. I remain mystified
:idunno
at what the he!! is wrong with him. Him, likewise with me. :lol:

So I attempted to relate verbal blueprints, how hard can this be? It's just cow panels, right? This time, my brilliant idea scrapped pervious plans of backing up to the barn, gate, wire gap or other location, which are hindered by the placement of a power pole and guy wire. What a stupid place to put them. I have even inquired about moving them from representatives from Wood County Eclectric Co-Op which pretty much got shot down. Anyhoo, my new plan was to run a cow panel, along with a 18' piece of non climb horse wire, down the back of the portable building and along the fence. The sheep barn is a 20'x24' lean to off one side of the portable building. A fence runs down the back of it, to the back yard--another temporary fence. Their lot opens to that pasture with a temporary wire gap. My temporary loading chute would make use of my previous fencing efforts.

After preliminary :duc bickering, we got started. We rounded up T-posts-another marvelous invention, hay string, tossed a cow panel over the fence, along with a T-post driver and the long piece of wire which came with a bonus piece of rebar which at one time, functioned as a wire gap. BJ used the end pieces of the horse wire to wrap around a cow panel-part of the sheep lot, while I held it up. He then drove a T-post and I tied the wire to it with hay string. It's temporary, OK? We got that piece of wire up, then positioned the cow panel and jammed it up against the cow panel gate that we use to go in and out of the side pasture, another temporary cow panel fence to keep the sheep off the side pasture while the winter rye and clovers grow. This had the joyous result of severely restricting just how far that piece of cow panel gate would open. We drove the T-posts, secured with hay string and the chute was up! We cut the fence, making a place to back the trailer to. We high-fived :highfive: our congratulations of a job well done. We hitched up the trailer and BJ backed it up to the hole in the fence perfectly. :woot

We did this on Sunday, it was sunny, warm and beautiful. We loaded them up on Monday afternoon, so we could leave early Tuesday morning. We usually load up the night before, if there are problems getting animals loaded, it gives up time to work out the finer details of obstinate animals and ignorant humans and we don't miss our appointment the next morning.

Pictures to follow.
 

Baymule

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I stood in the middle of our loading chute, turned toward the barn and took this picture.

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Then I turned towards the trailer for this picture.

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Then I took this picture of the hole we cut in the fence and the peeled back section that worked as a stop.

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Then a picture of the lambs in the chute.

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It worked! Best one yet.
 

Baymule

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After we loaded the lambs, we cut the hay string that held the cow panel up against the cow panel gate that Paris is standing on the other side of, wondering what are we doing. We pushed the end against the outside fence and tied it with hay string. The gate now swings freely. It is tied with wire, by the way. LOL BJ unhooked the wire on the other end and we tied it to the fence with hay string. Both ends are closed off, the sheep or dogs can't run through it. It worked so good that we left it up for next time.

All my failures, all my temporary brilliant ideas, contribute to helping me build a better invisible "someday" loading chute in my head.
:lol:

So this morning we take the lambs to the packing house. Naturally they didn't want to get out of their cozy trailer. I pushed one out, went back for another, Lamb #1 ran back in the trailer. Me and the lambs were not communicating well at all. BJ got in to help and the sheep rodeo began. One ran between his legs, knocked him off balance and down he went on his knee, then he rolled on the trailer floor. I'm looking at bits of hay and sheep poop stuck to his clothes, thinking, I gotta wash that! He wallowed around, trying to get up. For you young folks out there, old people are like turtles on their backs when we fall down. We lay there, arms and legs waving around like that's going to somehow propel us back up on our feet. Finally the turtle rolled over, got on his hands and knees, grabbed for the side of the trailer and struggled to his feet. He staggered out the side door. Score: Lambs-1 BJ-0

Mr Jim got in to help and together we pushed one out and into a pen. They are sheep, one goes somewhere, then they all go. Mr Jim and I pushed the rest of them to the end of the trailer where one planted his front feet, the one behind him stuck his head under his butt, raising it up at a precarious angle. Finally the dam broke, they all poured out and we claimed the victory!

In the mean time, BJ limped around to the driver's side, crawled into the truck with his knee the size of a grapefruit. I went inside to give cutting instructions and found out they are booked up through February, so I made an appointment for May for the lambs we have now.

BJ is not a mutton buster. He is mutton busted. I have rubbed his knee with Arnicare-it's great stuff for pain relief. He can walk, bend his knee, it is just swollen and it hurts. He is currently kicked back in his recliner, he'll be ok and up and at 'em in no time.
 

Ridgetop

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Poor BJ! Hope he is feeling better. Keep cold frozen peas on the knee if you don't have one of those freezable cold packs.

At least the injury occurred while UNloading. You might have had to load and unload alone. Men are sort of fragile. He has time now to heal before the next load in May! ;)
 

Simpleterrier

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I was just thinking of switching to sheep we like sheep meat. But loading goats is easy a bucket of grain and just make sure gates are open. Remind me I made a hog loading shoot out of an old horse tread mill I got at the scrap yard. For free. I'll try to get pics. But u know we only have two ours of day light or so it feels like now.
 

Baymule

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I was just thinking of switching to sheep we like sheep meat. But loading goats is easy a bucket of grain and just make sure gates are open. Remind me I made a hog loading shoot out of an old horse tread mill I got at the scrap yard. For free. I'll try to get pics. But u know we only have two ours of day light or so it feels like now.
Been missing you! Don't stay away so long.
 

Ridgetop

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Just thought of something. When we take in our lambs, I always ask my butcher to grade our lamb carcasses. He does the butchering for all the Fairs in the surrounding 3 counties. 3rd generation so knows his carcasses. I want to know f I need improvement or if my breeding program is going where I want to go.

Even though the last load you took in were not Ringo's get, they were from your ewes - many of which you will be keeping. You want to chart improvement not only in looks and structure, but also in carcass improvement, right? So start now by calling your butcher and asking about the looks of the carcasses of the last batch of sheep you took in. They should still be hanging so he can check them for you. If he has already cut them, he will have just done it so will remember what they looked like. Tell him you want an honest opinion so you can improve. Note down what he says. When you take in the next batch in a couple months do the same. Now when Ringo's lambs go to slaughter you can compare the difference in carcass as well as in basic structure and looks on the hoof. Since the methods you are using in raising the lambs are not changing any difference in carcass grading will be Ringo's genetics.

Then if you want more carcass improvement you can experiment with changing your methods of raising the lambs i.e. creep feeding, changing grain or supplements, etc.

With our Dorsets I had to use a special lamb grower ration in the creep. With the Dorpers I was able to downgrade to a simple rolled barleycorn. With Angel I lost my creep for a while since she was in it and when she started playing with the lambs I had to block off the creep. Luckily that was my Dorper year so there was not too much problem with weight gain. This year I will have changes again since I have more ewes and rams to move around, groups of ewes lambing at different times, different ages of lambs to grow out separately, and will be comparing rate of gain, etc. to any new changes in my practices and feeding.

You mentioned wanting to keep track of weights. The cheapest way to weigh when the lambs are young is with a sling hanging scale. I did a lot of research after the 3 previous hanging scales purchased from 3 different livestock catalogs broke in the first year. The scale I use now was originally made for hunters to weigh deer carcasses. It weighs up to 600 lbs. It is made by Crane. You can get them that weigh more but most people use a hoist with those. DS1 is my hoist. It had excellent reviews from hunters weighing dear and elk successfully, and also had reviews from ranchers weighing lambs, goats, and calves. We really like it. It is heavy duty. I think I already had this sling from the previous sling scales I was using. Slings are easy to make or find online.
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Check around on line. I got the blue one since it was cheaper than the same model in orange! LOL On another website the blue one was more $$$. Go figure. Weighting up to about 50 lbs. on a hanging scale is not hard with 2 people.

Anyway, I like weekly weighing as a tool to check weight gain and lamb progress. Any ewe that does not produce lambs that gain properly is culled. Remember that weight gain is not static. Weights increase rapidly when lambs are very young, then tend to slow down as they reach maturity. The goal with using scales and weight is to monitor lambs for optimum gain to slaughter weight. You do not want to gain too slowly and feed longer when raising commercial lambs. Extra $$$ spent on longer feeding times = less gain in your pocket. Extra $$$ spent on expensive supplements = less gain in your pocket. We don't make money here because we have to carry too much purchased feed, but that makes it even more important to keep track of the bottom line.

I learned to use weight gain as a tool in 4-H since you want a steady gain up to Fair time. Too slow and you have to push the animal and hope for the best. Too fast and you have to cut feed with oats for a slowdown. This is bad if you find out just before Fair that you need to do either one. We have done both before we got our first scale and started weighing. You want your fair animal to look fresh and an animal that has been held not to gain looks stale. Ideally you watch your weight gain to hold early for a few weeks then allow to gain to Fair time. If trying for more gain, you can push earlier to avoid founder or digestive upsets which set the animal back even farther.

OH NO! Fun times are over - record keeping begins!!! :ep :caf
 

Baymule

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That is a great suggestion on the carcass grading. I will ask the butcher, he was cutting today. This batch is the progeny of the not so great Dorper. All lambs on the ground now are Ringo's. The afore mentioned cull ewe with the hump back will go to slaughter, her twin ewe lambs are small, not growing well, so there is another reason for her to go.

I like the suggestion on the sling and hanging scale. I'll have to look into that. I'm taking a stab in the dark because i don't know their weights. The slaughter house I am using doesn't have a live weight scale, so I can't figure live weight to hanging weight ratio. With no scale here I can't see their weight gain. Frustrating!
 
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