Monday, 7 February 2011
This time last week we had just got home having helped Brian (in the video clip) shear 248 of our sheep, it was a long day! We started at 7am and finished by 9pm. On the whole, the ewes seem to rather enjoy it, and look like putty in Brian's professional hands. It is so relaxing to watch. I took Molly up to the sheds and she snoozed along to the sound of the shearing machine!
People often ask us why we shear our flock in the winter - well, one of the main reasons is that they are only 6 weeks from lambing, which is when 70% of their unborn lambs growth takes place, and also the main development of the their mammary glands (the udder) to produce that vital food source milk for their lambs takes place during this time. A sheep that has been shawn will eat more hay and therefore be getting more nutrients during the key final few weeks of pregnancy.
But there are other advantages to shearing our sheep prior to lambing. Shawn sheep take up less room in the barn and around feeders, therefore reducing the risk of trough bullying or trough rage! It is also easier for lambs to feed from shawn ewes.
Also, sheep are very good at keeping warm - their wool insulates them, holding in body heat. Pregnant sheep, in which growth of the lamb results in heat production, stay even warmer as their pregnancy progresses. In fact, sheep carrying multiple lambs have to increase their respiratory rate just to get rid of body heat.
Anyway, we have a big week ahead of us with three farmers markets, two trips to the butchers, one trip to the abbatoir, a training course for using our faecal egg counter (a brilliant way for us to decide whether we need to use a wormer or not). . . not to mention feeding lots of hungry sheep twice a day!
Roly, Camilla, Molly, Boris and Belle