7 hours ago
Thursday, September 16, 2010
The gestation period for lady sheep, i.e. ewes, which depends on factors including breed, weather and nutrition, is an average 147 days (range 144-152 days) . The ram we bought last 10 April  met his 35 girlfriend ewes on 23 May. Via this calculator , our earliest lambs will be born on 17 October. Whilst some farmers shear their ewes before lambing, we prefer to pre-lamb crutch them as the weather’s still too cold to remove their woolly coats. Pre-lamb crutching involves shearing the wool from around the anus, vulva and udder. Doing this reduces the risk of four things, i.e. lamb(s) being infected during birth, udder infection, lambs sucking on wool rather than udder, and fly strike. Farmers whose ewes lamb in the winter may need to crutch them before summer to help prevent fly strike. That crutching removes wool only around the anus. Thus pre-lamb crutching involves removing wool from a wider area (but still much less than a full shear). The timing of pre-lamb crutching’s critical, i.e. not too early that the wool grows back before lambing, and not too late because the closer to lambing the more likely the crutching will stress the ewes and so increase the chance of premature birth or stillbirth. Our 35 girls were pre-lamb crutched last Sunday, 12 September, i.e. 35 days before 17 October. None was obviously stressed by it. The photograph shows the end result. Stand by for lambing news in mid to late October.