Saturday, September 24, 2011

Breeding season (I)

We got our ram! Arnold collected him by car in the Czech Republic. "Don't they have good ones in Slovakia?" you might wonder. They do, however few Frisians and we suspect most of this breed to be related to our two Frisian ewes. So fresh blood had to be imported from the other site of the border. He is a half year old but already ready for 'his job'. He is wearing a harness which enables us to fix a piece of colored chalk on his chest. Now we daily note which sheep have a colored bum to know when to expect his first offspring. This morning we counted six yellow bums!
I just calculated the expected lambing dates with this tool: lambing calculator +/- 19 February 2012.

In typical Slovakian range sheep operations ewes usually do not get in heat the first year and thus first lambing occurs at two years of age. We however want to achieve that most of our ewes lamb for their first time at one year. This requires a higher level of management and feeding than if ewes are handled more traditionally. Breeding an ewe as a lamb will increase her lifetime productivity significantly.

Ewe lambs can be mated successfully without negative affects on future reproductive performance providing they achieve a threshold body weight within the breeding season. In general, ewe lambs must weigh approximately 65 percent of their mature body weight at the start of the breeding season in order to insure a high percentage of them breeding. With good management, this should produce conception rates of 75 to 90 percent. We hope to get at least 20 out of our flock of 22 lambing next spring.

1 comment:

John said...

very nice, lambs always looks so dumb to me, but i found these facts very interesting