Lambs born in January and February have already been weaned and their Mother’s already dried off and out in the field with the hoggets. Most of my flock lambed mid to late March, which makes the lambs around 12 weeks old. The lambs are eating grass most of the time and only seem to drink from their Mother’s in moments of insecurity or to slack a thirst when the water tank is too far away across the field.
Weaning day starts off with collecting in all the ewes and lambs from the fields bringing them into the yard for sorting. I like to do this on a cool day as it makes it less stressful for all involved.
Even the super ewe I have who has for the second year in a row raised 4 lambs comes in. I think she will be very relieved once the next 24/48 hours have passed, not to have 4 lambs charging under her and head butting her udder looking for milk.
As the last ewes and lambs trot out the gate towards the yard I make a final sweep of the field just to make sure all have come in.
There is always one who just dawdles along taking it’s time nibbling a blade of grass here and there in no hurry to move anywhere. This ram lamb stops to have a nose to nose chat with Pepper who sits atop the quad and is just as interested in the conversation.
The yard is so busy sorting lambs from ewes and I also have buyers in viewing lambs they want to put deposits on so take no photographs until after all ewes and lambs have been sorted. The sorted lambs all trot out into the paddock toward the orchard gate.
Once the gate has opened they gallop up the laneway not yet realizing they are on their own without their Mothers
Almost as soon as they get into the orchard their heads go down to eat the sweetest grass around which I have saved just for this day as their weaning reward.
They spread out all over the orchard separating into small groups of friends and siblings eating sweet grass, looking around and calling for their Mothers between mouthfuls.
They don’t even notice the big huge scary neighbors watching them through the gate.
Meanwhile the Mothers have been let out into an over grassed paddock to dry out calling all the while for their lambs.
Because the Zwartbles sheep is a dairy breed they carry loads of milk which drys off quicker for them if they are under nourished for a few days. I will be inspecting them regularly watching as their udders refill with milk and get very taut which will be uncomfortable for them as their lambs will not be there to milk them off. I will also be watching out for Mastitis which can occur during drying off. I have yet to have a case of Mastitis during the drying off period but it is better to be safe then sorry.
Every time I go in to inspect both lambs in the orchard and ewes in their paddock they come up to me asking ‘What have you done to my Ma” or ‘Where are my lambs?”
The Zwartbles sheep are a very curious and friendly breed of sheep which makes them very easy to manage so counting lambs is easy as they all run up to me and almost stand in a line for me to count them.
Soon they are all their looking at me and bleating for their lost Mothers
Very soon the ewes couldn’t care less where their lambs are and start to enjoy the peace and quite even ignoring the lambs screaming at them from the other side of the gate.
After a few days on the short grass paddock the ewes are looking very keenly at the grass on the other side of the gate. Their udders have lost the really taut look and feel more pliable. I only have to open the gate when they set off at a gallop into the fresh field.
As soon as they are in the field their heads go down and they happily graze away not worried about lambs but just stuffing themselves with grass.