Sunday 15 February 2015

scanning the ewes

Last year about this time, the ultrasound man came to scan the ewes and predict who would give birth to what. The data:
Empty Single Twins Trips
5 6 5 1
Total 17 ewes 19 lambs; average 1.2.
Compare that with this year's data which we obtained around tea-time yesterday evening:
Empty Single Twins Trips
3 4 6 1
Total 14 ewes 19 lambs; average 1.4.  So the rate is better but we'd still have gone bust if this was a commercial undertaking rather than a penance for our sins in a previous life. The ideal is to have an average pretty damned close to 2.0 but not higher; and you want a peaked distribution: all twins, no empties, few triplets. The runt of our triplets is still very small despite us feeding her supplementary milk for months (at €15 the bag for Lamlac powder). Last year we needed (or had) four people to run, heave, push the ewes into the scanning chute - our good-neighbour Carmen dropped by to deliver some cakes for O'Manch and found herself writing numbers with a spray-can on the flanks of 17 sheep.  Since then we've upgraded our sheep handling unit to incorporate a sheep-chute half a metre wide and 10 metres long. This more or less forces the ewes to form an orderly queue following each other through the scanner to freedom. Somebody said that we should do this necessary scanning with the least possible stress to the ewes which aspiration was a long way from the reality of stress levels for either two- or four-leggers. We all did commendably well, all things considered.

Not least, we separated the empties and put them in with last years (un-tupped) lambs and a sentimental pensioner, where they can survive on whatever grass there is.  We can thus concentrate our concentrated feed into the mothers. Turns out that we had 4 ewe lambs not 3, which only came to light when we were loading the second batch of ram-lambs into the trailer for the butcher. What are we like? So we now have eight not-load-bearing sheep in our haggard saving me from having to mow the lawn for a few weeks . . . win!  And we have reconciled the lamb-count numbers on the flanks with the official numbers on the ear tags, so we'll keep proper fertility records from now on - promise.
We are now accepting applications, from people with small hands and no need to sleep, to come help with the lambing starting at the beginning of April. Actually that coincides with a two week gap in the Institute's teaching term over Easter; and I think that several members of the family will be home over that period.  Must remember to buy some Lamlac.

No comments:

Post a Comment