May 1st, 2014 · 2 Comments · Posted in farming
Twenty-four hours old and the baby ewe we’re calling Grace is bouncing around her pen while mom Hannah keeps tabs with a look of concern on her face. We check the pair frequently to make sure Grace is nursing. She is. She jabs for the teat and, finding it, sucks contentedly, her little tail whipping sideways back and forth with joy.
We’ve used temporary fencing to set up a kind of maternity ward in our permanent paddock. Grace and Hannah for the moment are confined to a pen–called a “jug” in the sheep world–while another pregnant ewe–Charlotte has the run of the rest of the ward.
The rest of the animals, meanwhile–the Jersey heifer, the boy goat, the other four sheep–share the paddock and half the walk-in shelter. But they’re going out to graze on pasture every day, returning only in the evening. Soon we’ll be letting Grace and Hannah out of the jug. But I’m still pondering how we integrate the little lamb and her mom back into the pasture rotation.
Some graziers allow their ewes to give birth and raise their lambs on pasture. None of this confinement business. But having suffered a nasty attack on our chickens recently, we’re afraid to to leave any lambs on pasture overnight, even behind electric fencing. We know there are fox and coyote in the woods, and this time of year they’ll be having young of their own to feed.
This will require some further thought.