In late June 2015, we purchased 5 purebred Katahdin ewe lambs born in April (Sadie, Sammi, Sandy, Sara and Savanna) from a producer in Elko. A yearling Katahdin/Dorper/Barbados cross ewe (Hazel) was also purchased from a different individual. In October 2015, we purchased a Katahdin ram lamb (Sawyer) from a producer in New Prague. From July until mid-fall, we used these lambs to mow our lawn, utilizing portable electro-net fencing to move them from one area to another as needed. It was great! No noise, no work, no gas. They did an amazing job and became quite tame and friendly. We can now easily move them about just by calling to them.
Our Katahdin flock spends the winter months in a large port-a-hut behind our house at night, where we can shut them in with a gate to keep them safe from predators. In the morning, we turn them out onto the south hillside where they can graze and forage through the snow, but also have a hay feeder to eat from that we fill daily. We have been told that if they don’t receive daily exercise, they may have problems lambing, so this setup allows them a good amount of space between their feeding area and their night-time sleeping area to provide that exercise.
In November 2015, we put the ram, Sawyer, in with the girls and within 6 weeks, all 6 ewes were bred. Our first lamb crop was born in April and May, 2016. We sold most of the offspring as meat animals in December 2016.
We held two ewe lambs back(Gezelle & Genieve) and a ram lamb(Galen) from 2016 and got all 8 of our girls bred in November 2016. Between March and April 2017, we had a total of 17 lambs from the 8 ewes (3 sets of triplets, 3 sets of twins and 2 singles).
Once again, we held back 4 ewe lambs (Lazette, Lena, Livia & Lovie) as breeding stock. We bred our mature ewes to Lazarus (a ram born in 2017) in Dec. '17 for lambing in April/May 2018, and tried to breed our 4 ewe lambs in late February 2018 for fall lambing, but none of them got bred. What we discovered was that they are not entirely year-round breeders as some have advertised. While we may have had some success with the mature ewes, ewe lambs do not breed as easily the closer it gets to spring. So going forward, we will breed the younger ewes in December and the older ewes in January, to space out the births a bit.
We made something called “lambing jugs” the first year. Lambing jugs are just small enclosures where the ewe can go to give birth away from the flock and then have a day or two to bond with her lambs before going back out to be with the flock. These lambing jugs worked great and we have now used them for the past 3 years. If we see the ewe going into labor, we gently move her into one of the pens where she can have her babies in a safe, clean place and we can assist if need be. We feed and water and provide minerals and lots of time for mom to bond with her babies (usually 1-2 days) before turning them all out to be with the flock.
Since the lambing jugs are right next to the main living quarters, the other sheep can come and visit those sheep in the lambing jugs, which also helps to reduce stress for the new mom as flocking animals do not like to be separated from their flockmates.
Our flock grazing the pastures with the Beefalo
Savanna and her triplets - spring 2017
Hazel (Katahdin/Dorper/Barbados cross) ewe.
Hazel is the leader of our flock!
Lanny & Landon on a cold April day - Momma Sandy could only count to "1" and so she happily gave me #2 and #3 to raise and Ohhh, what a joy they were!