When to breed my lambs for the first time?

Thomas Jakeman

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I have 4 lambs, they are 50% Romney 25% Polypay and 25% Dorset, it's the first year raising sheep for us and I have heard that some people breed their sheep the first fall but my wife is a bit nervous breeding them this year, they are 6 months at the moment.
So I was wondering when other people start breeding their sheep.
Thank you for your help
 

Baymule

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I breed mine at 8 months. I have Katahdin and Dorper mix hair sheep. Many people breed at 6 months. What age do the people you bought them from breed their sheep? I sure wouldn't wait until next fall to breed them!
 

Mini Horses

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If you wait a couple months you will still have Spring lambs -- when the grass is coming in and makes for happy ewes with plenty of milk. Also, the size and condition of your lambs plays a part. Healthy with good body weight? Waiting another month would probably make "everyone" happy.

Consider what you plan to do with the lambs. That is sometimes a factor when breeders plan. They may have a time when sales are better, they have less "other" work themselves, lambs will mature at "XXX" time and so on. These factors are beyond the health of your ewes.
 

Sheepshape

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The size/weight/general condition of the ewe lamb are the deciding factors as to when to breed.

Usually I wait until they are shearlings/yearlings (about 18 months old) to breed them. However if you have a lamb who weighs approximately 75% or more of her expected adult weight, she can be bred with no loss of condition to herself, provided she is well looked after and supplemented during late pregnancy and lactation (she still has some growing to do herself). Younger/smaller ewe lambs may still cycle and get pregnant, but their lambs tend to be small and their own growth permanently stunted. Very young ewes don't always make the best of mums!

Having said these are the ideals, many of us are caught out by the 'jumping tup'.....the one who can seemingly scale 6 feet high fences to find his way to a ewe lamb in season. I had one such (very small) ewe lamb 'visited', apparently by a tup. )To the best of my knowledge she was never less than two fields away from a ram. A very friendly little bottle lamb with very thick and long wool suddenly became less friendly and didn't come to see me when I went into her field to give silage to the lambs. After about a month of this behaviour I went into the field to find her having given birth to a lamb overnight in freezing cold conditions (hadn't had her booster vaccines, not been recently wormed, no concentrates etc etc).She had reverted back to her usual friendly self, so I was able to get her into a field with shelter, give her some concentrate etc. Proved to be an excellent little mum and both she and her lamb grew very well.

So, healthy, well grown ewe lambs are fine to breed, but ideally wait until their second year.
 
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