Sunday, February 27, 2011

East Friesian

One of worlds best dairy sheep is the East Friesian. It is like a Holstein cow, when it is kept under good conditions it can produce lots of milk. However it will not thrive when it receives low quality feed and is not properly looked after. Few sheep of this breed can be found in Slovakia where most sheep are kept rather extensively.

We would like to have a flock of these beautiful animals but it is hard to get them in Slovakia. Dolly and Molly and hopefully 2 or 3 more lambs will be the beginning of a larger flock. Dolly and Molly are doing very well, they gained 1.5 kg each within one week. With the goats and their kids outside, they got a larger stable and more space to run and play.

The East Friesian is considered to be the heaviest milking breed of sheep in the world, analogous to the Holstein cow. In fact, The East Friesian was developed in the same region as the Holstein, the Friesland area of Germany and Holland. The average milk production of the East Friesian can exceed 1,000 lbs. of milk during a 220 to 240-day lactation. East Friesians are efficient lamb producers. Mature ewes average more than two lambs per lambing. Even yearling ewes are capable of producing 200 percent lamb crops. East Friesians are docile and adapt well to intensive parlor milking systems. They are a higher maintenance breed. Source: Sheep 201


This picture of a Lacaume sheep and it's proud owner is one of the amazing and beautiful pictures of Yann Arthus-Bertrand; animals and a magnificent collection of areal photos (la terre vue du ciel).

Lacaune sheep produce milk for the world famous Roquefort cheese. It is a French breed which has been intensively selected to improve it's milk production. It has also been imported to Slovakia and certain breeders in Slovakia go every year to France to buy new rams since good dairy sheep are of high value over here.
We have been to a sheepfarm yesterday, and we have reserved 20 lambs for our new flock! They will be old enough to be weaned and transported to our place at the end of March.

The Lacaune is a French breed of dairy sheep. In France, the Lacaune breed has been rigorously selected for improved milk production. Annual genetic improvement for milk yield is 2.4 percent. As compared to the East Friesian, the Lacaune is a hardier breed of dairy sheep. They give birth to fewer lambs and produce less milk, but their milk is higher quality, giving better cheese yields. The Lacaune has very little wool. Its head, legs, and a good portion of its belly are bare. This lack of wool is advantageous when it comes to milking. Source: Sheep 201


Brother and Sister

Boy and not-boy

One of our latest kids is a hermaphrodite - it has no penis, no vulva but an opening where you would normally expect it's balls. This is not because of inbreeding but caused by crossing a polled (hornless) goat with a polled billy-goat. The other kid of this twin is a billy-goat (or was since I do castrated all the billies).

Boxing day

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Road work part III

I cannot and do not want to recall when we started with working on our road. We finally got eight truck loads of stones which we filled the dug out tracks with. Yes, by hand with only the use of a wheelbarrow. Quite a job...
Now we can go to the next level, putting gravel on top of it. Then the earth needs to be removed and our road will be finished. We sincerely hope this to happen before the 1st of May...

Bottle-feeding lambs

We got the lamb's milk! Mr. Roháček from Milki S.R.O. supplied us a bag of the right stuff for feeding lambs. No homemade recipes anymore. Quite a relief since we certainly don't want anything to go wrong with these lambs.
Dolly amd Molly are doing very well on it. We still keep them under a heath lamb since it is again freezing cold.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kid 4 and 5

Today two kids came out of the huge bulging belly of ten month old Tita. Last Autumn I haven't seen her in heath so it was a surprise when the kids would come and who had sired her. Clearly Smurdy our white billy-goat is the father of these two all white baby goats. Because of inbreeding they wont stay for ever with us. Now the lambing stable with 5 kids, 2 lambs and 3 adult goats is rather full. But it has snowed again so they will all stay inside for a few more days.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Maybe paradise is all these things: a garden, an enclosed park, the memory of mother's milk or a golden age. Maybe the Garden is within or exists in the holiness of daily labor, the body making food for itself; or maybe it surrounds us every second if only we open our eyes.
Could it be that the dheigh at the root of the word paradise was, in fact, a dairy? A place where people learned to milk other animals?

From the book I am reading at present:
Goat Song, A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese - by Brad Kessler (page 132)


More baby goats! A twin (m&f) from the same mother but I do think they have different daddies... No names yet, this year they will all be Goat Without Names (GWN) till end of March when our goat-naming-competition gets a winner and the goats finally their names.

Dolly and Molly

Natural versus Artificial - Abnormal versus Normal

We get lambs! Arnold left this morning to collect them, I am waiting excited at home for his return.
Two pure East Friesians with a pedigree from Slovakia’s best breeder mr&mrs Kovac! One of their ewes has rejected her two female lambs and they have offered them to us. We very happy since it is extremely difficult to get lambs from East Friesians in Slovakia. It is the most productive dairy sheep breed you can get.

However now we have to artificially rear them and in our area you can't get special lamb milk. Sheep milk is not for sale yet since it is the beginning of the lambing season and here it is normal not to separate lambs from their mothers during the first two months. At two months or 12 kg the lambs are weaned and sold to Italy and the ewes are milked for a few more months. The milk is use to make delicious sheep cheeses.

It is not recommended to feed cow milk to orphaned lambs since sheep milk is much richer. But if you have nothing else you can try to make your own lamb milk from it by enriching it. We keep our fingers crossed that they wont get stomach problems since natural sheep milk is of course much better for them.

Luckily we have the bottles needed for artificially rearing these lambs. We got them as presents when our daughter Katinka was born. Like we got several dummies. Apparently with human beings it is normal to rear your child artificial. Although the official WHO recommendation is to breastfeed for two years in the western world it is considered abnormal and almost obscene. Katinka still gets mum’s milk if she wants, because it is natural and normal! It is the healthiest drink she can get, it comforts her when she is upset and she loves it.

So now we have found a use for the bottles, any suggestions on what we should do with the dummies?

Friday, February 11, 2011

New life

First kid of the year. A beautiful all white female. Not being named yet since we hold a competition for our campsite; the person who comes up with the nicest name wins a week free camping. If you want to participate, go to our campsite website and use the contact form to submit a name.

We are also still following the series of webinars on managing ewes and does from late gestation through weaning. Very interesting since we are now in the middle of it (expecting more kids very very soon) and especially since we want to go into commercial dairy sheep business.
Yesterday we learned that you should clip, dip, strip and (make-) sip. Something we have always done so we will continue this;
- clip umbilical cord if it is to long
- dip it with betadine
- strip some milk from the udders to remove the wax plug and be sure that the doe/ewe has milk
- be sure that you see the kid/lamb sip some milk within the first 30-60 minutes and if not you should assist it

This kid came at night so when checking the stable in the morning it was a lovely surprise. She is doing fine and at three days old already starts to chew on hay and other solid food.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stray dog attack

Two stray dogs entered our farm and attacked one of the geese. I don't want to think what might have happened if they would have attacked our heavily bearing goats. They now sleep inside at night also because first lambs might come within a weeks time.
It is the first time I have seen big strange stray dogs roaming around on our land, this is not something which is socially accepted in rural Slovakia; to let your dog run free and bother other peoples livestock.