Feeds:
Comments

Our three year old registered Icelandic ram, Jason, (CBI RAM B24H 69A) is for sale this year.  We’ve used him all three years, retained several of his daughters and almost hate to let him go because he’s been such an asset to our flock and a good ram all around.

He has good confirmation with a nice thick build and squarely set legs.

He has a great temperament and gets along well with all our other animals and is respectful of people.  He doesn’t destroy things for fun and is halter trained.

He has good parasite resistance in our flock situation of somewhat high parasite pressure and has passed along that trait as well as his other good traits to many of his lambs.

We have a situation where our flock is small and he runs with the main flock for most of the year, including a crossbred ram, goats and a llama and he gets along with everyone.  He plays like a ram, but won’t butt unless his playmate is on board with the game.  It’s interesting to watch him try to play with our llama, who won’t/cant butt versus how he plays with our large Kiko doe, Juno, who loves a good shoving match or our former Texel ram who would fight with Jason now and then, but it never got really out of hand, although the Texel would usually lose his scurs and be a little bloody afterwards.

He’s a pretty ram.  He won the title of Supreme ram at Michigan Fiber Festival as a lamb and we showed him at our local fair for fun as a yearling and he did well. His color is Black with gray and mouflon patterns.  He carries moorit, or brown, but he has not produced spotting.  His horns have been trimmed as they were touching his face, but he doesn’t pass his close horns on to his lambs very often.  The smaller black mouflon rams pictured are a couple of his sons from 2014 and 2015.  Both have gone to other flocks, but we used the 2015 lamb as well as another one, on some of their half sisters for lambs this year.  Jason has also sired lambs in our crossbred flock and we may be retaining some of those ewe lambs too.  I find the half Icelandic mothers to be an asset to our crossbred flock as well for a number of reasons.

Compared to other rams I’ve had, Jason is not only the best behaved, but he has moved my flock forward the most in conformation, especially body width, and parasite resistance.

 

Moonstruck Farm & Fiber

024 (2) Vanilla (front) and Milquetoast (behind) this fall – both are crossbred sheep

Things are relatively uneventful as we wait for lambs. I’ve taken this slow time when I don’t enjoy being outside in the cold weather to work on doing Fecal Egg counts for my flock.  I don’t expect to find many, but it’s a good way to pinpoint potential problems, and I’ve got about a third of them done, including a recheck for one who I wormed and some other redos to check my accuracy or where I only got samples less than 4 grams.

I’ll probably need to start giving annual immunizations (Covexin 8) to some of my ewes expecting Feary lambs now and stocking up on supplies/medicines for the impending lambing season. I occasionally check udder development on my early girls because they are the ones I don’t have breeding dates for – bred before I put…

View original post 395 more words

024 (2)

Vanilla (front) and Milquetoast (behind) this fall – both are crossbred sheep

Things are relatively uneventful as we wait for lambs. I’ve taken this slow time when I don’t enjoy being outside in the cold weather to work on doing Fecal Egg counts for my flock.  I don’t expect to find many, but it’s a good way to pinpoint potential problems, and I’ve got about a third of them done, including a recheck for one who I wormed and some other redos to check my accuracy or where I only got samples less than 4 grams.

 

I’ll probably need to start giving annual immunizations (Covexin 8) to some of my ewes expecting Feary lambs now and stocking up on supplies/medicines for the impending lambing season. I occasionally check udder development on my early girls because they are the ones I don’t have breeding dates for – bred before I put the marker on the rams.  Vanilla( BFL/Texel first time mother at 2) is the only one in the early group who has a breeding date because I witnessed her being bred by Jason, our Icelandic ram.  Not really her intended mate, but I’ll be happy to have some nice crossbred lambs to sell from her and Icelandic cross lambs tend to be more energetic – always a good thing for a first time mother.  She’s starting to form a little udder and her belly looks plump.  Her 145 day due date is 2/25 and only other ewe who looks as pregnant as she shape-wise is  Fern (Icelandic/BFL/Lincoln) who has no official due date, has that rounded pregnant look, but still no obvious udder.  She’s bred to Kiaba, our young Texel/Suffolk ram.  There are about 5 more ewes with questionable late February/Early march dates, but starting 3/5, we have pretty good dates on everyone.

 

The main thing we are watching for now is making sure all are fed well as they approach or enter their third trimester of pregnancy. They get mostly a good quality hay and some grain mix with extra protein, but extra hay on cold days helps them keep warm too as it processes in their full rumens.  I had one crossbred ewe lamb, due 4/1, who was uncoordinated and stumbling one morning last week so I gave her some B vitamin shots and extra calories/attention for a couple days, but was actually looking better by noon of the same day and is now back out with the main flock.   I have some of my younger pregnant ewes in a pen where they get fed separately so they don’t have to compete with big, pushy adults.  Some individuals seem to have coughs and runny noses, but with the unpleasant weather and closer quarters of winter conditions, it’s one of those things that is hard to avoid.  I just need to watch those with colds to make sure they don’t turn into something worse, like pneumonia.  I sometimes use VetRX, a product that is sort of like Vicks for animals, to treat the symptoms of those with colds, especially on individuals who are easier to catch.  Coughing can also cause heavily pregnant ewes to have prolapses. Luckily I have not had this happen in my flock yet, but it’s something to watch out for.

It’s always difficult to decide who I want to and can keep and who to sell or in some cases, even cull.  We have limited space and resources, but each year we always are hoping to improve our flock with the new lambs, but we need to make space to keep additional animals.  This year is the second year for both our rams and we evaluated their lambs last year and in Butters’ case some of his lambs had lambs so we evaluated how well they handled that.  This year, Butters is moving on to another flock.  He will be used in a more purebred Texel flock and I hope his new owners enjoy his curious and mellow temperament and his fine lambs as much as we have.

We are keeping one of Butter’s sons as well as deciding between two Suffolk/Hampshire cross lambs we acquired from our neighbor to be our sires for the crossbred flock next year.  Jason, the Icelandic ram, will be staying one more year, but I’m not sure who we will be breeding his 2014 daughters to this fall.

We have a lot of tempting youngsters this year in both the crossbred flock and the purebred Icelandic flock.  Brigetta, our favorite Icelandic ewe, had a lovely little black gray ewe lamb this year.  She was born late in the season, but we have high hopes for her.  Ella has a really pretty black mouflon ewe lamb too.  Alex has his eye on Fritzie’s ewe twins for his 4H project, who are both black gray mouflon and full of spunk – one has the frosted mouflon look.  Andromeda’s black gray ewe lamb is incredibly flashy this year too.  Rhoda and Midnight both have nice solidly build black gray ewe lambs.  Fiona has a healthy looking black mouflon and Ivy has a pretty black gray/badgerface ewe – although Ivy has problems with mastitis and her lambs are being bottlefed some and not growing as well as some of the others.

Our ram lambs are growing up  nicely too.  We have two black mouflons, 4 black gray/mouflons,  a black gray, a black badgerface/mouflon and a white one.  I’m considering keeping one over the breeding season to breed with his half sisters, and there is one who always seems to have a really good FAMACHA score, if I could just remember which mother he belongs to –  he is one of the many black gray mouflons.

I like to see how fast they grow compared to each other and how they look overall, but parasite resistance is a big factor for us as well as diversity.  We try not to keep the same ewe’s lambs each year, but we still have more of Andromeda’s progeny than others.

Black gray mouflon ram lamb

Black gray mouflon ram lamb

Black mouflon ewe lamb - Ella's daughter

Black mouflon ewe lamb – Ella’s daughter

Fritize and her two black gray/mouflon girls.

Fritize and her two black gray/mouflon girls.

2015 lambing plans

Athena 9-14

Athena, out young Kiko doe, was a year old in November. She is not a trouble maker as we had feared from bringin in goats, but has a charming playful personality.

I love so many things about owning/raising sheep and now goats too:

 
·         The appreciation they give when fed – They always respond positively when they see me coming!
·         The annual miracle of birth in early spring when I’m tired of winter and need some excitement
·         The entertaining antics of lambs as well as adult sheep
·         Their beauty and the relaxation I get watching them graze contentedly or interact with each other
·         Their wool, which I enjoy spinning and making things with.
·         The income they make, which may only cover their costs, but gives them a reason to take up space on my farm
·         Getting to know the different sheep as individuals
·         Even their manure is useful, although it takes work to get it where I need it
 
Most important to me though is the opportunity they give me to learn about them in many ways.
 
I love the sheep for who they are, but without the learning and trying new things, I’d probably want to try something else eventually.   I enjoy going to trainings/meetings/webinars with other sheep producers to learn about their health, economics of raising, reproduction, nutrition, genetics, parasites and pasture management, etc.  I’m not a real social person by choice, but I enjoy being and interacting with others who have a common interest, furthering our knowledge and learning from each other.  I go to these meetings and bring back ideas to try out with my flock.  Some work and I incorporate them into my repertoire, some cost too much or I don’t have the facilities or numbers to try, and some don’t work for me, but I still enjoy the learning/experiencing process and file these ideas away for the future.
 
Last fall Kelly decided to add a couple goats.  One we bought bred, but the other needed bred so I ordered some CIDRs (Controlled Internal Drug Release) an intravaginal progesterone insert, to get her synchronized to come in heat so I could take her to be bred by a friend’s buck on a specific date.  I had a pack of 20 so I decided to try them on some sheep as well. 
 
My Icelandic sheep typically lamb in April and sometimes into May, but my other sheep (various breeds/crossbreds) usually start to lamb earlier so I thought it would be nice to have them lamb closer together.  My goal was to get the Icelandics bred for mostly March/ some early April lambs.
 
I have some issues with keeping two separate breeding pens outside so decided to keep the Icelandics inside in our two barn stalls.  Because they tend to cycle later, I didn’t necessarily bring them all in at once.  I kept ewes with inserts in in one stall and moved them to the stall with the ram after pulling the inserts.  I put raddle/marking powder on both my rams so I would know when the ewes were bred and after each Icelandics ewe was bred, I waited a couple days and put her back out with the crossbred flock.
 
I used CIDRs on all my mature Icelandic ewes and a few of the crossbred ewe lambs who were of a good healthy size for breeding.  I didn’t want them to lamb all at once so I staggered how I did it – trying not to have more than two bred per day.  I left the mature crossbred ewes out with their ram to breed on their normal cycles, but recorded the dates they were marked, except for five ewes who were bred before I started using the marker.  Those 5 have already lambed at this point.
 
Right now, I’m at the point right before I started using the marker/CIDRs.  We have 9 lambs on the ground from the five ewes who bred early and have definite breeding dates on all but a few (younger ewes who may not have been bred or bred later or black crossbreds where I couldn’t see the mark as well.  Waiting for my final results!  First estimated due date is “Black Tunis” for 2/19/15.
 
name
CIDR use
Insert date
Removal date
Days in
Breeding date
Days after
145 day due date
Breed
Black Tunis
2/19/2015
Jacob/Tunis/Romney
Friday
10/9/2014
3/3/2015
Texel/Icelandic/Finn
Milquetoast
11-Oct
3/5/2015
Texel/Icelandic/Finn
Mamasita
10/13/2014
3/7/2015
Icelandic/Jacob/Tunis/Romney
Grizelda
10/15/2014
3/9/2015
Icelandic/Jacob/Tunis/Romney
Brigetta
1
10/13/2014
10/18/2014
5
10/23/2014
5
3/17/2015
Icelandic
Fiona
2
10/18/2014
10/23/2014
5
10/25/2014
2
3/19/2015
Icelandic
Belle
10/25/2014
3/19/2015
Texel/Dorper
Ivy
2
10/20/2014
10/25/2014
5
10/26/2014
1
3/20/2015
Icelandic
Midnight
2
10/20/2014
10/25/2014
5
10/26/2014
1
3/20/2015
Icelandic
Juno
10/23/2014
3/22/2015
Goat-Kiko
Rhoda
1
10/13/2014
10/22/2014
9
10/28/2014
6
3/22/2015
Icelandic
Zena
2
10/18/2014
10/23/2014
5
10/28/2014
5
3/22/2015
Icelandic
Fritzie
2
10/24/2014
10/29/2014
5
11/2/2014
4
3/27/2015
Icelandic
Athena
1
10/18/2014
10/24/2014
6
10/29/2014
5
3/28/2015
Goat-Kiko
Andromeda
1
10/13/2014
10/18/2014
5
11/3/2014
16
3/28/2015
Icelandic
Primrose
2
10/22/2014
10/29/2014
7
11/3/2014
5
3/28/2015
Icelandic
Orca
11/3/2014
3/28/2015
Texel/Icelandic/Dorper
Goldie
1
10/13/2014
10/20/2014
7
11/7/2014
18
4/1/2015
Icelandic
Ella
1
10/13/2014
10/20/2014
7
11/7/2014
18
4/1/2015
Icelandic
Toasty
3
11/7/2014
11/12/2014
5
11/16/2014
4
4/10/2015
Texel/Icelandic/Finn
Bunny (sold)
3
11/7/2014
11/12/2014
5
11/16/2014
4
4/10/2015
Texel/Tunis/Jacob/Romney
Fern
Icelandic/BFL/Lincoln
Raven
Icelandic/Texel/Finn
Vanilla
Texel/BFL
Saphire
3
11/7/2014
11/12/2014
Texel/BFL/Lincoln
Tubby
Texel/Finn
Jacob/Texel triplet (sold)
3
11/7/2014
11/12/2014
Texel/Jacob
Hermione's ewe lamb, 3 days old, Texel/Tunis

Hermione’s ewe lamb, 3 days old, Texel/Tunis

So far this spring, we have had 7 lambs born with no issues.   All but one of the mothers was experienced and I found all the lambs either just born or already cleaned and nursing.  All 4 ewes managed to have their lambs on nicer weather days, despite it being January and February. That’s the way I like it!

Number 8 decided to come on a single digit temperature day.  I could tell his mom, a three year old Tunis ewe named Mini, was getting ready to lamb soon, with a full udder and swollen vulva, but not acting like it yet.  At 7 am, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go in and have to deal with a cold wet lamb.  My fingers were too stiff, and Mini was happily and calmly eating breakfast in the maternity stall, so I decided to wait.  I took an early lunch hour and went home to check her, hoping the lamb had already arrived.  No such luck. She looked ready, but not actively laboring so I gloved up.  No lamb in position at the opening, so I had to reach in a bit to find the little guy and figure out how he was positioned.  At first I found some random legs and was confused and stopped to think.  I tried again and after locating the top of a head with ears, I pulled his snout up towards me and into a better position, but he was slippery and I thought I’d see if Mini would take over.  I had tried to position his legs better, but he pulled them back from me (a good sign of life), but there was enough wiggle room so that I thought he could probably make it out even if not perfectly positioned.  I fed the other sheep an extra bale of hay and got some more hay down for later and when I looked back in, she had a little lamb just out, but was laying down.  I cleaned his face up and moved him to Mini’s head to  let her lick him a bit while resting.  When she got up and fussed like she was uncomfortable or straining, I rubbed him down with a towel to try go get him dry, warmer and invigorated and left them alone again.  I went inside and brought out warm water and the little one was up trying to nurse.  I checked Mini and her teats had some wax plugging up the holes, so I cleared those up and the lamb started to suck better now.   I realized I needed to get back to work.  I decided to let things go rather than waiting to see if she had a twin or going in.  I didn’t want to interfere with their bonding time and it was so cold, I though it would be better to let her work on one at a time anyway.  Also, Alex gets home around 3 and could check on things and let me know if all seemed well.  Of course today, he had a ton of homework and never made it out for chores until I got home anyway.  I was greeted by the site of Mini and her TWIN rams nursing happily!

Lamb Number 8 for 2015.  Texel/Tunis ram all fed and cleaned up.

Lamb Number 8 for 2015. Texel/Tunis ram all fed and cleaned up.

The three Texel/Tunis lambs.

The three Texel/Tunis lambs.

Goats!

Athena 9-14

Athena, out young Kiko doe, was a year old in November. She is not a trouble maker as we had feared from adding goats, but has a charming playful personality.

It’s been a while since I updated this page and our newest additions this year are two Kiko goats. We bought Athena as a 4 month old this spring. She was born in DuBois, PA but her mother died when she was only a month old and the lady who rescued her originally wanted to cut back on meat goats and focus on dairy goats so we were able to buy her. We health tested her and kept her in quarantine for over a month and I was afraid she’d get out of the fence when we let her out with the flock, but luckily she shocked herself several times and quickly learned not to mess with the fence. At first, the big ewes were rough on her, but she’s grown in size and confidence over the summer and seems to be right in the middle of the flock pecking order. We took her to one of Deb Gray’s (of Harvest Hills farm)  Nubian bucks to be bred and she should be due late March.
More recently, we brought home another Kiko doe who was supposed to be bred and was more mature – 2 years and had a kid this year. After coming out of quarantine we discovered that she was in heat thanks to the observation of Butters. our ever attentive Texel ram. I hope I was able to rescue her in time to avoid any cross species accidents, but we are planning to arrange a date for her next weekend with a goat buck when her next cycle is due.
At this point, we are not eager to own a goat buck. Our rams are not aggressive to people ,get along well with each other and don’t destroy property. I’d hate to ruin the positive dynamic they have in the flock by adding a third male.