We recently scanned our ewes for pregnancies, and 412 of them are bearing!
Look at them! Those with the red mark on their faces are bearing either twin or multiple foetuses; those without a mark are bearing singles, and the dry ewes are marked with green.
Pregnancy scanning is a great management tool to improve profits for meat and wool enterprises, particularly those running higher stocking rates and when paddock feed is in short supply. The rams had been sent in with the ewes on the 15th November last year, and were taken out on 31 January this year.
The commercial availability of ultrasound scanning for pregnancy in ewes has been a major development for the sheep industry. It enables farmers to know the pregnancy status of their ewes about two months before they are expected to start lambing. Information on the pregnancy status of ewes enables farmers to:
• Identify and manage ewes separately according to pregnancy status
• Identify and potentially cull dry ewes from flock
• Identify early and late conceived single bearing ewes
• Calculate lamb losses between scanning and marking
We expect our new babies to be born from the middle of April 2014!
Yes, cutting or shaving the wool off of a sheep (shearing) is very much like getting a haircut! However, shearing requires skill so that the sheep is shorn efficiently and quickly without causing cuts or injury to the sheep or shearer. These days most sheep are sheared with electric shears or shearing machines by professional teams of shearers and wool handlers going from farm to farm. There are however still farmers who prefer to do the job themselves and even use old-fashioned sheep shears.
Sheep shearing always feels like the start of a new year. Maybe because it happens in spring or maybe because we know lambing is coming up next!
It is also a bit of an anxious time. Especially with the extreme weather patterns these days. Not only is sheep without her fleece pretty naked looking, and going from a full thick winter wool coat to almost no coat is a bit of stress anyway.
Sheep cannot be left to go without shearing. The wool continually grows and will become heavy, soiled and unhealthy if not sheared.
The amount of wool clip that comes off an animal and its quality depends on the breed and care of the animal. On average a wool clip from one of our sheep will be around 4kg.