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When to Breed 1st Time

Discussion in 'Breeds & Breeding - Sheep' started by Laidback1, Jul 19, 2017.

  1. Jul 19, 2017
    Laidback1

    Laidback1 Exploring the pasture

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    Do you wait until your ewes are 1yr old before you turn them in with a ram? That's kind of what I've always heard but recently was looking at some rams and the breeder says he doesn't wait that long because he doesn't want to "lose" a lambing.
    Just wanted to get an idea of what folks do in their operation.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Jul 19, 2017
    mysunwolf

    mysunwolf True BYH Addict

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    First off :welcome!!!

    We have always (well, for the three years that we have had sheep) bred at 7-8 months and have had no issues, none. In fact, we've had fewer issues with ewes lambing at 12-14 months than we have with ewes lambing at 18+ months.

    Things that can go wrong breeding too young:
    • If they're going to have poor maternal instincts, supposedly those instincts will be a lot less developed when they're young. So if you have a poor maternal line, and you wait longer to breed, they may be a little more prepared for their lambs just through age. However, we have not found this to be true.
    • They fail to grow properly since they are not fully grown and their energy is being put into the lambs. Pregnant ewe lambs need extra feed. A good rule of thumb is also to wait until ewe lambs have reached about 60-80% of their adult weight before breeding.
    • Some of this has to do with breed. For instance, most Icelandic producers that I know generally wait longer to breed, whereas the Dorset breeders tend to breed younger. There is some speculation that a meat animal should be bred young and a dairy animal older, but again, we have found no difference.

    Hope this helps!
     
    Sheepshape likes this.
  3. Jul 19, 2017
    Roving Jacobs

    Roving Jacobs Seeing Spots

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    I personally prefer to wait to breed a ewe until their second winter so they lamb around 2 years old. I have slow developing breeds though so that's just what works for me. There's absolutely nothing wrong with breeding sheep their first year as long as they are a good size and kept in good condition throughout their pregnancy. I knew plenty of people who do it that way with no issues at all.
     
  4. Jul 22, 2017
    Sheepshape

    Sheepshape True BYH Addict

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    If a ewe lamb has achieved 80% of her expected adult weight, she is ready for the tup (I'm going for the top end of mysunwiolf's weight range) as smaller than this the ewe lamb may not be able to achieve her full growth potential, the lamb(s) are likely to be small and weak, and she'll generally have a hard time.

    Big, strapping ewe lambs usually carry off mothering admirably, but are best lambed indoors as they sometimes think that their work is done after giving birth and may not want to let the lamb suckle.
     
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  5. Aug 13, 2017 at 11:24 PM
    ohiogoatgirl

    ohiogoatgirl Loving the herd life

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    I am planning on lambing to start in early March and breeding in early October. This will have the lambs at 7-8 months old in the fall when I want to breed. I am hoping that I can work on having sheep with good growth rates that I can have the option of breeding ewe lambs. I would rather have ewe lambs big enough to breed, and some take and some not take, than to have small ewe lambs that *have* to be separated part of the year. And the problems that can happen with wee small ewe lambs getting bred somehow by accident.
    I wouldn't blame ewe lambs for not all taking the first fall. But I would much rather have them able to be big enough to have that option.
     
  6. Aug 14, 2017 at 2:51 PM
    mystang89

    mystang89 Loving the herd life

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    I trying to find info on awassi about what their weight is full grown. Someone on this site showed me this site http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/p8550e/P8550E01.htm
    but Iits from 1980 and I'm not sure how accurate the info is with the awassi coming to the USA fairly recently. I tried getting in touch with the man I purchased them from but haven't been able to contact him yet.

    One I find that info out I'll be able to more easily tell how ready my ewes are to mate.
     
  7. Aug 15, 2017 at 12:40 AM
    ohiogoatgirl

    ohiogoatgirl Loving the herd life

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    66-110 lb for ewes and 130-200 lb for rams. wow. seems like it would depend a lot on the breeder, especially since they are newer to the USA.
    good luck! awassi look really cool :)
     
  8. Aug 17, 2017 at 6:59 AM
    mystang89

    mystang89 Loving the herd life

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    I posted the question on Facebook (I hate Facebook) but there was a man on there that raises awassi and he said ewes weight is 140lbs full grown and rams are 240lbs. I never expected rams to weigh so much more than ewes!

    EDIT: Wow, that auto correct....
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2017 at 12:04 PM