We made it through the whirlwind on lambing, and are excited to move on to growing lambs at their mom's side on pasture. We are also thankful for all the precipitation (even if it did come as snow and ice on May 20th) for the pastures and hayfields!
Records are very useful to us as they tell us what is working and what we need to address and improve. I always pay attention when other producers share what they did. 2021 is definitely better than 2020, and probably on par with 2019 lamb crops. We see the big difference being how the ewes went into breeding in prime shape late in November 2020.
We basically had two groups. This year, we had a large enough group of 1st-time mommas, that we intentionally held back on breeding because we knew we needed to focus a lot of energy there - and we are glad we did that because that second group (roughly 25% of the flock) was as much work as the other 75% of experienced mommas.
We bred 131 ewes.
We lambed out 121 ewes.
To account for that difference, we had 3 pre-term abortions, 2 dead ewes, and 5 open ewes (meaning they were marked as bred, but could have miscarried or absorbed early on. Three of them were mature ewes and two of them were ewe lambs).
The first group of 95 ewes lambed out in 19 days.
The second group of 26 ewes lambed out in 15 days.
This tells you that we have not slept in 34 days. Actually, we look at those numbers because it is a reflection of the effectiveness of our ram power. A ewe's cycle is approximately 17 days, so this is telling us that our boys get their job done as soon as they are given the opportunity - it makes for an intense lambing window.
We had 238 lambs total, which works out to 197% overall.
The mature flock averaged 207%;
and the 1st timers averaged 156%.
That percentage number is one that shepherds use to determine how your ewes are potentially making a living for us, and potentially replacing themselves (or adding to the flock).
16 sets of triplets
85 sets of twins
20 singles (7 from mature ewes, 13 from 1st timers)
7 stillborn - the part we don't love sharing, but it's farming. A few that were too small (perhaps premature), or had other circumstances that didn't have a good result. Those losses are always a disappointment.
The boy-girl ratio was a very even 50-50 split.
The majority of them were born without any help. There were 16 lambs that needed some help, including a few breech or heads tucked away - nothing too major! For the first time ever, we took a trip to the vet for a C-section which was a little nerve-wracking, very interesting and yielded a mostly positive result.
Average weights - I've not calculated this before actually, but I'd guess it's about the same as other years. Overall, the birthweight of our lambs was 9.6-lbs. The singles are always heavyweights and averaged 13.1-lbs; twins were 9.8-lbs on average, and triplets came in at 8.5-lbs. Everyone gets a weight recorded at 14 days also, and so if I wave my magic math wand, we know that they have a "daily rate of gain" (one of Dale's favourite numbers) of +0.4lb which we find reasonable and acceptable for this stage and our farm management style. Remember our goal is a healthy flock that is sustainable for our inventory management so we can maintain stock of the freshest lamb possible for as much of the year as possible.
Oh - and last but not least, but of great importance, we had a big variety in color this year. Our rams didn't change, so I'm not sure what made the difference but with so many shades of brown, Katahdin speckled, traditional Dorper (black heads, white bodies), black & whites, blacks... and whites... each arrival is interesting. We love the variety the hair-coated breeds have. Each one is cuter than the last it seems and in this way (and all the other ways) 2021 did not disappoint.