Tuesday, January 6, 2015

breeding and what to do afterwards

   We have Finnish Landrace sheep.  They are smallish, very sweet and friendly, and they can breed out of season.  Ours were born in April, so we were debating about breeding them at all this year. The shepherd we purchased them from said it should be fine, but be certain the ewes met a certain weight before breeding.  Like a 14 year old girl, they might be capable of having babies, but should they?  Not if they are too small.  So Rosie was not bred. We made a little pen for her next to the others, and we put Maxine and Frodo together, and Sam and Arwen together.   And we waited about 5 weeks.  And we fed them grain as well as hay.  And we hoped.
    Last week we separated the rams from the ewes.  The girls were pretty pleased to be back together again, but the rams - well...
   We put the rams together in their pen, and they began to head butt each other.  This was not unusual, but they were pretty fierce.   We thought, well, let's put them out so they have a little space.  BAD IDEA!  A little space meant they had lots of room to back up and gain speed before they slammed into each other.  It was sickening.   We tried intervening, but they are strong and fast.  I grabbed the leaf rake and as they approached each other  I would waggle it in their faces.  This was confusing to them, but not completely off putting. Finally they slammed into each other so hard that Sam started bleeding and his  little horn nub was depressed into his head.  Time to break this up.  We got Sam into the pen and left Frodo in the pasture with the llama.  At first he chased the llama, wanting to be next to him.  Then, this silly ram tried several times to mount the llama - who would walk away, or side stepped him.  Finally,  Elrond, the llama, had had enough.  He chased Frodo into the run in, and stood there as if to tell him, "Enough, you puny ovine!"
    As soon as we got home, we turned to the internet for advice from more seasoned farmers.  Well, we had done everything wrong.   So we went back and  put the boys in together, but we  made a tiny pen out of their spacious one by  taking a gate and tying and bracing  it so the rams could get to their feeder, their water and minerals, but they  only had enough room to turn around, lie down, but not ram each other.
Alex checking out the rams.
Close  quarters
Even with these close quarters, they tried to get at each other, so we threw a couple of bales of hay into the corners to  cramp their style a bit more.  The next two days they were living cheek by jowl, but when we  opened up their space a bit, they tried ramming each other some more.  
     The next recommended deterrent was to  spray their  noses and their testicles with perfume to mask any smell of the ewes they had been with.  That seemed to do the trick, but the rams' pen smelled more like a bordello than a barn!
    So now calm has been restored to the  rams, and we wait  to see if the ewes are going to have lambs in April.  Keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for babies in the Spring!

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