Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lamb weights

I finally ordered a scale! I had been planning on ordering one for several years now and decided last winter that I was going to get one this summer after trying to weigh lambs and ending up in muck with the lamb running away. I got the same one as Theresa Gygi, but without the cage as the cage was an extra $600. I just cut some hog panels and made my own cage. The scale arrived yesterday morning and (I had been planning to vaccinate and deworm ) I used the scale yesterday afternoon to weight all of the lambs and kids. (I have been weighing my lambs and kids at weaning with a bathroom scale for several years, but this is more accurate and much less back breaking!)

Coopworth X Shetland 30 lambs 60.50# ave. (colored Coop X Shet 12 lambs 52.83# ave., white Coop X Shet 18 lambs 62.22# ave.)

Corriedale X Shetland 10 lambs 66.60# ave.

purebred Shetland 29 lambs 52.13# ave.

Angoras 12 kids 38.4# ave.

All 84 lambs and kids 55.04# ave.

I weighed two Shetland cross yearlings and they were both around 120#. The one yearling Angora doe was 65# (and probably 6-8# is mohair!) I did not weigh any of my rams, ewes or Shetland yearlings. Just not enough time... it was almost dark by the time I got to the last lamb.

Interesting thing is last year I did not like the Corriedale crosses, they were small and I did not like the fleece. This year's ones are by the same sire, but most are whites. All of last year's were colored.

The Coopworth X lambs do have a different "look" than the Corrie X lambs. The Corrie X lambs are leaner and taller.

On another note. I have been thinking, the UK judges mentioned that a Shetland ewe who does not meet the standard is placed in a conservation grazing flock. The sheep are all bred to flockbook Reg. rams and after 3 generations (or was it 5?) the offspring are allowed to be registered.

So if we have a Shetland ewe who would not meet the standard/pass inspection (say her fleece falls of a bit or her tail needs improvement) and we get a stunning ram lamb out of her perhaps we should still send him to market as he may have a higher chance of passing on low quality sheep than one who is out of a line who has been bred to good rams without flaw for several generations.

I know I have gotten nice crimpy/med.crimpy fleeces out of a more double coated type ewe to a single coated ram in one generation and I have also fixed tails in one generation. I wonder if those lambs are more likely to revert back to the more double coated fleece or poor tail than a ewe who's sire, grand sire and great grand sire all were "perfect"sheep.


  1. Isn't in nice, Laura, to know all the weights? Would love to see how you put your set up together.

    Seems like the Corrie cross lambs win this year. I wonder if the white makes a difference because of different genetic inheritance?

    Did you compare ewe/wether/ram weights for each group?

    For the conservation grazing flocks with ewes not up to par, those might have gone to cross rams. I'm not sure. But for your reasoning above you are spot on. If a ewe is iffy/not quite standard probably not keeping the ram lamb, even though he might be stunning, might be a good idea. It also might be a good gamble but I would think you would have to cull his lambs more heavily, keeping only the really good ones.

    Not all really good rams, or ewes, from really good parents reproduce themselves so it is always a gamble on how things turn out anyway. One year might be spectacular, the same breeding the next year could produce a dud.

    I've fixed fleeces and tails in one generation as well. But some ewes are stubborn genetically and never "fix". Those are definitely not the purebreeding types.

  2. Hi Theresa,

    I didn't compare ewe/wether and ram lamb weights. My set up is not nearly as nice as yours!

    I just have a couple sheep pens and an ally way that I block off. I run a group of sheep/goats into the ally and make a tight area at the end and then do what I need to do. There are two pens at the end of the ally and a big yard area so I can do some sorting. (Only one pen does not open at that spot, but if the sheep are small enough I can lift them over the fence.) I put the scale in the corner (the part that you read the weights with I stuck through the fence to no harm would come to it) and had a couple short pieces of hog panel that I cut to fit nicely with the scale I tied them to the fence and left one corner open. I opened the hog panel like a gate and shoved a lamb in, weighed, dewormed, vaccinated and let it go. The big down side is when winter comes my sorting/catching system is shut down due to snow. I dewormed some MKT lambs last winter over a three day period catching as many as I could when they were eating and marking them with livestock marking paint. (I only deworm MKT lambs in the winter, none of the replacement lambs get done.)