Around the kitchen table

I am adding in a new title.. just like we have this and that posts, were I write about lots of little things to catch you up or when I do photo blogs, were its more about sharing or a trip post, I am going to be adding in a new one.. Around the kitchen table.

Its meant to be both real and maybe funny in its own way at time.. its when we have had a talk at the table about something and afterwards I think.. that would be a interesting blog post.. most of the time, I try and wrap the idea into a neater package of information, often splitting it into different posts.

But I am going to try keep it all together.. in all its free flowing, often ends without a answer, like you are joining me at the table.

Here we go..

So I need to talk to you about Rams..  Hubby blinks at me and nods..  (that’s my cue to keep talking) I am trying to figure out what to do with the sheep flock


We currently have Whiskey, he is a sweet ram, produces healthy active live births and good weights on his offspring but he is a wool sheep, he is not a big ram compared to our last boy and for two years running, at least 10 percent of his off spring at around the big weaning time do not come off mom and onto our pasture and go from just fine to dead.


We have Hairy, he is a Whiskey Son, he is outstanding, he is out of my Butterscotch-Dram line, and he is the current boss ram, he outweights his father by a solid 50 pounds, he has a good temperament and is my very effective clean up ram, as his mother is fourth gen born on my farm, his offspring are a touch bigger at birth( a big harder on the mothers) but          they grow strong and do not have the “what the ??” issue with all of them reaching butcher age..  but he is half wool-half-hair and he sheds his coat out very well in summer but he throws a lot of wool on his babies.. enough that they would have to be sheared and he throws horns and horn buds.

we could just keep breeading Whiskey for a few more years and deal with shearing him and deal with having more half or whole wool lambs born in the flock.. and work to figure out what is missing that we are having lamb loss at weaning stage.. do they need more loose minerals, do they need to be wormed more, will need to spend some more time and money figuring this out.

We could move over to Hairy as our full time breeder.. but he is related to all the butterscotch line.. so while he does have 50% of Whiskey.. do we want that or do we want more outcross.

We could buy a new ram, a hair sheep again.. and raise him up for the year and then move back to having a hair sheep as the lead ram to go with the hair sheep girls and greatly reduce overheating issues with the wool lambs and the shearing that goes with.

Or we could move Hairy in with Tess (the new line of hair sheep female I got last year) and breed our own new ram.. Tess brings in 50 percent new lines to the flock, Hairy would bring in 50 percent new lines from Whiskey and 50 percent of my own line-bred tough as nails suited to my own farm and land hair lines of Butterscotch and Dram.

My hubby listened and his question was this..

Are you wanting to hold back replacement females in the next three years?

My answer was.. I am wanting to look at Mocha’s offspring as I do not have any hold backs on her line and she is getting up there in age.. she is 8 this year and is only 2nd gen on the farm.. she tends to give me boys.. lots of boys over the years. I am still waiting for a ewe from her.. I don’t normally like to keep back from a female under the age of four or five, I really want them to prove themselves and then she has just thrown me males since..

And I willing to consider offspring from Tess as she is a new female an I might want to grow out her offspring till 2 just to see how it develops and such..

but I am hoping and planning to buy a new milking sheep ewe lamb to add to the flock this year..

Otherwise, no, I am not looking to add at this time..

And then we mulled..  So got questions to ask? Got thoughts? What would you do? Why would you do it?

I am still making up my mind to tell the truth.. so I will share what is decided at a later point but I am looking forward to hearing what you think?


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8 Responses to Around the kitchen table

  1. Karen says:

    In regards to your lamb losses at weaning time, I had 2-3 years where I was experiencing that. The third year, starting with the second sudden unexplainable death I started having the veterinarian out to do post mortems. In lambs #1 through #4, the veterinarian couldn’t find a reason. Though in my mind he wasn’t doing extensive or very thorough post mortems. For lamb #5 it was the older (read more experienced/old school) veterinarian that responded to my call. He went deeper into the carcass and when he got to the heart even I knew the diagnosis: white muscle disease. Just to be sure he sent in a tissue sample and the results confirmed the diagnosis. The interesting thing is that most often it is assumed that insufficient selenium is the cause but in this case it was a vitamin E deficiency. So I immediately gave all the lambs a dose of BoSe (see this link for a description: and didn’t lose any more that year. I offer all of my sheep a mineral mix free choice and they eat it well. There is both selenium and vitamin E in the mix. The problem is that vitamins in mineral mixes have a shelf life of 6 months. The feed mill I was using at the time was ordering sheep mineral just once a year so for a good portion of the year the mineral mix was 6 months or older. That brand of mineral also didn’t have a manufacturing date code or a expiration date on their bags. I checked around with other feed mills and found one that orders more frequently throughout the year so that their inventory doesn’t get more than 6 months old. And I learned how to decipher their manufacturing code. For the past 3 years I’ve not had any sudden, unexplainable lamb deaths. So do check your mineral mix. If you can’t decipher the date code ask the feed mill to decode it for you. It might just be that their sheep mineral is 6 months or more old. Make sure the pregnant ewes are eating it so that the lambs aren’t born with deficiencies. Another option would be to give each lamb a dose of BoSe at 2 weeks of age and again at weaning. You should be able to purchase BoSe from your local veterinarian. If you don’t know how to do injections, ask the veterinarian or another shepherd to teach you.

    • Hi Karen, I will check the date on the minerals, I do the shots, and I give to the mom’s when they get their vaccine boosters and feet trims at a certain stage in the pregnancies and I give the lambs a shot after birth as well.. but I don’t normally do so at weaning time, easy to give it a try.. thanks for the thoughts on it.

    • I might also consider boosting them with a extra selenium our land and area requires extra given as the hay and everything is short on it..

  2. I have no opinion, but I love hearing the discussion you had with your husband…we have a lot of discussions like that here as well. The farm decision-making discussions are endless!

  3. valbjerke says:

    I’ve always tended to run lean and mean so to speak….were I in your situation I would be looking for a new, proven ram. I am very strict about culling – it costs so much to raise any kind of livestock – therefore I never allow myself to keep any that are less than the ideal. 😊

    • hi Valbjerke, I hear you on that, I can at times be very much so.. so your vote is on new proven ram that is young still but they kept daughters and want to move him on..

      very good view an certainly on the table.. I gave a call to my co-op and asked them to order in fresh minerals for sheep and I am still giving my pasture the eye as well..

      in regards to the weaning stress-issue, the pasture has moved its percents off on the plants, that’s why its being re-done in full this coming year.

  4. moving a facebook comment over here to be added in..

    If it was me. I would likely outsource a new ram, one that matches with the majority of your flock. I think in your case a hair sheep, maybe even a dorper I love their look and meatiness, or another katadin (sp). I tend to prefer keeping the lines pure so I can have a consistent product. Just waiting for my older crossbred girls to retire. But I wouldn’t not necessarily get a ram lamb, as you don’t know how they will turn out. Even an older boy that can produce for a few more years from a flock that is clean. Ive been really happy with the 3 year old we bought. But it also depends on what your goal is. If you having issues with overheating then I would stay away from the wool breeds. Personally we’ve never had that problem, as the wool should help insulate them against the heat and the cold and we have trees in our field for shade, don’t get me wrong, they do get hot, but just panting. But maybe the mix of wool and hair is making their fiber different? For the next 3 years it sounds like you want to produce terminal rather then replacement. So I would get a terminal sire. If Whisky’s lambs are dying just before or at weaning and this has never happened before then he isn’t doing any good for you. Have you looked at coccidiosis? That could be hitting them then. Also until we had 20+ ewes we only kept one ram, and used a making harness on him so we knew breeding dates. He lived with our one buck and they were good together. Even now often I pull the breeding ram. Wait a few weeks and put the same rams back in their breeding groups for clean up.

    • After breeding a hair sheep flock for 9 years, its been interesting adding in the wool in the past 3, I do tend to keep my rams as a sire an then as a terminal sire for a number of years.

      she has a very good point, a terminal sire is what I need for the next few years and I also agree, I have been very successful at only carrying one ram but I did raise hairy as a possible replacement and also because if I was going to butcher I grew his horns for longer as I want to do a head mount on them

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