Lambing is Going to be Busy

Last week was a big week in so far as preparations for lambing go. All ewes and tegs have now been ultra sound scanned, so we know what number of lambs are expected, and they have all now been brought indoors, to be housed until they lamb in March. 

With the expert help from our sheep scanning man Wally Chantler, all 1000 ewes were put through the race and then "probed" to take a look beneath the fleece. The ewes could be having anything from none to 4, and we have a marking system which ensures we don't forget. The unfavoured green is for barren (none), blue for singles (one), nothing for twins (we like these), red for triplets (help), orange for late (the ram got there in the end) and double orange stripe for quadriuplets (double help). 

Markers ready for pregnancy scanning at Hare Farm

It takes a certain skill to be able to ready the scanning machine, and to do so quickly. We managed to scan 1000 ewes within 5 hours.  Wally Chantler scans thousands of ewes from December to March in the UK, and also travels to New Zealand to do more. 

Wally Chantler at work - pregnancy scanning

The lambing percentage overall came to 198% which sounds ideal when the ultimate wish is that all ewes have a pair each. However 198% is an average, and so with 8 quads, hundreds of triplets and singles expected, we will have our work cut out to aim for every new mother to walk back out into the field with two. Being an intensive indoors operation, the scanning helps us prepare for fostering on early, as we keep all expectant singles together. When labour signs kick in with the singles, we will be ready to foster a spare lamb on her, to make a pair. 

Our mule ewes scanned to be the most prolific of the groups. At 213%, this is the highest result this year for Wally, he told us. These ewes were on the best quality grass pre and during tupping time so their nutritional intake must have been a contributing factor. 

Pregnancy scanning results at Hare Farm

We have been scanning at Hare Farm for over 15 years now, and we cannot remember the last time that as many as 8 ewes were scanned to expect quadruplets. Here's another quads diagnosis from Wally below. "It's 4. Hard luck old girl". 

This lady is expecting quads!

So now that Stuart knows the numbers of lambs expected per ewe, he has been able to bring them indoors to be housed, in preparation for lambing time. Here, the ewes are waiting to be taken to their warm beds of straw. 

Ewes at Hare Farm

The sheep have been separated off by breed (suffolk versus mule), age (tegs versus ewes) and numbers of lambs expected (singles, twins and triplets/quads). The barren ladies pulled the short straw and will be staying outside for now.  The ewes indoors are now being fed sheep nuts (more for the triplets/quads, less for the singles) and hay. Stuart can keep a close eye on all of them as we approach March 10th when lambing is set to begin. 

If you would like to learm more about lambing at Hare Farm, why not attend a lambing course? Enjoy 6 hours spent in the lambing shed (with a break for lunch or tea at the pub), with lots of hands-on practical experience. Take a look at the lambing course details here. 

There are also two holiday lets at Hare Farm. Stay in either the oast house (sleeps 12) or the shepherd's hut (sleeps 2) and enjoy the sights and sounds of lambing time all around you. It's a very special time of year to visit Hare Farm.  

 

 

Written by Joanna

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