Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What a Day!

Yesterday started out nicely. I milked cows (at a neighbors farm), sheared several sheep who finally got the rise. (Some still don't, but I want to do everyone I can.) Then after shearing the last ewe, a two year old first time lamber, and trimming her feet, I notice half her udder is hard. Mastitis, but too late to treat. Sadly I have to cull her; I'd much rather cull older girls. (She will have to go to market as I don't think she will be able to feed two lambs with half an udder. I will check her before she goes to see if her udder is soft. No one is getting culled until sometime in July as they are still feeding lambs.) I do cull sheep who are too old to breed, have problems like not enough milk, hard lambing (depends on what the circumstances are though), and attitude. I cull to keep my flock productive and make room for younger animals. I don't like culling or sending animals to market, but I need to as that is a part of most farming. I'd rather eat my animals than many animals (meat) from the store. My animals only have one bad day and the store bought meat animals often have only one good day. The day they get butchered. Those factory farmed animals often live in misery.

Then we got a nice thunder storm. It is so nice to get rain after not getting any for quite a while (we got rain a different day as well.) I thought, well I'm done shearing and I can't move the sheep to a new spot of grazing yet, I may as well wash wool. So I got some wool in the water and it stopped raining. I went out moved the sheep and as they were being moved, a lamb broke its leg. (I had a pallet on the hill to prevent erosion as the sheep and goats were rolling on that spot and making a big hole. Very bad idea.... as that's how she broke her leg.) Completely snapped in half. It sounded like a board breaking. I carried her up the hill and put her in a pen in the barn. The vet came out and set her leg and put a cast on. It is just like a "people" cast. Hers is wrapped in pink vet wrap, so she has pretty pink cast. Her break is just below the knee on a back leg. Since she is a lamb she should heal nicely. In six weeks the vet will have to cut the cast off and she should be as good as new. (I have a friend who had a yearling jump a fence and get her back leg in the fence as he was running to get her out her leg snapped. She got a cast and healed nicely. He still has her and one can't even tell by looking that she had broken her leg.)

Then I saw that our mamma hen has babies! Two so far and two more could hatch. They are cute little things.

I started making supper as my mom was working and both brothers were over. I made a pasta salad, which they devoured. After that I remembered the wool and started over as it had gotten too cold. I caught the hurt lamb's twin sister as the poor girl came to (she was drugged up for the vet casting her leg) and was baaing for the flock. I went back and got the ewe with a bucket of grain she followed nicely. That was done.

I went back down the the flock as I needed to set up some electric netting (couldn't earlier as it was raining and storming of for a second time) as the permanent fencing shrinks every year in that spot due to being marshy and tall marshy grass. Baaa. Baaaa, Maaa, BAAA! One spot about 6 ft. long is all it takes...everyone got out. Great! sheep in the ditch, which is not a good spot as that ditch is really wet and sloppy; sheep running along the fence line; and around some trees in another direction. I called for Lydia as she was out side putting her horse away. She came and the sheep actually went in very well! They all jumped back in where they had gotten out, they knew they weren't supposed to be out, and I got the netting up. ( I had been planning on putting the netting up right after they moved, but first the break and then the second storm.) All's well ends well.

I rinsed out the wool which surprisingly got clean, watered a different group of sheep, changed into PJs read the Bible with the family and went to bed! Today I'm planning on deworming, I'll see what happens today!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pasture Lambing!!!

 "How'd you get sooo BIG?" Newborn Shetland lamb and a month old Shetland X Coopworth.
 Same little guy. Spots sure are cute! He is probably a katmoget or modified as he is grey, but his dam does not carry AG and neither does his sire Gilroy.
 Triplet kids. The two blacks are both does and the "white/red" is a buck. I wasn't expecting to actually GET black DOES! The sire is a homebred buck out of my TX AAGBA boy and China. These are actually my first kids out of a homebred buck. (The dam is also my breeding.) Both these girls will stay at least until next spring and then I may sell one.
No this lamb is not an alien with four eyes! My camera is dyeing dying hence the lines and four eyes. This lamb is a black ewe lamb out out Gilroy and Funzie. She will most likely be a keeper as she is very nice.

So far as far as lambing is going pasture lambing is easier than lambing in a bard or shed. The lambs have all been delivered without assistance so far and all of them learned to nurse, didn't get lost and only needed the navel dipped. The only "dead"lamb was a "twin" that died about 1-2 months along and was only 6 in. long. That was out of a 10 year old ewe.

I have had 12 ewes and 1 goat lamb so far. 4 more ewes and 2-3 (1 may be open) more goats to go. The lambing percentage so far is lower than the first group's percentage. That may be due to being bred late and then being fed poor quality hay shortly after breeding. Or just being bred late. I'm not sure.

I am not going to make a judgment yet. I want to see how the lambs grow and how their wool grows. If I do like pasture lambing I will try it again, but make sure to feed better hay for a longer time. If not I have to buy a shed for about 20 ewe to go in or sell a lot of sheep. The last really won't happen....

More picture when I have time.

Note: I have gotten all of my cross girls, all the boys and all the goats sheared. I'm just waiting on the rise on several ewes.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Here is a video of me rooing Gilroy Corrine 's ram that I leased. He was really easy to roo and reminded me of a Soay as far a rooablity and fleece type. Some sheep will roo part of their fleece but not all. (All of my rams rood parts of their fleeces.) I rood one ewe and she didn't roo as easily, but neither Gilroy or that ewe's fleeces need any cutting. 

This fleece has the rise and is ready to shear. This particular sheep does not roo.

I have around 30 Shetlands to shear or roo still. Some have not gotten the rise enough to shear yet.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I was comparing micron counts from two different times and found something interesting to ponder on. Fine- does fine (meaning super fine) as a lamb really matter? If a lamb is med. fine and stays med. fine vs. a super fine lamb who ends up med. fine is there any difference? One only gets one lamb fleece. Fife was the finest ram as a lamb, but as an adult he is not my finest ram. A couple boys changed very little from their lamb fleeces to their third fleece. Yes, it is easy to tell that their fleeces are adult fleeces as the wool is greasier, less tippy and smellier than lamb's wool. All of the rams's birth coats were the fine crimpy kind.

Fairlight(white) an F1 Jings was 26.6 Ave, 6.3 SD, 23.8 CV, 10.6 CEM, 26.6 SF and 72.1 CF (note: soft, silky hand and a meduim crimp) as a lamb. Two years later, as a three year old he only coarsened 1 micron. What's more his SD and CV are both lower!

Fairlight-     27.6 Ave, 5.7 SD, 20.6 CV, 10.2 CEM, 0.3<15, 69.7 CF, 26.8 SF, 24.1 Min, 31.2 Max, 62.4 CRV- 3 years

PS23 Fandango (grey katmoget) an F2 Greyling/F3 Orion is 25.8 Ave, 5.8 SD, 22.5 CV, 9.9 CEM, 23.4 SF and 89.4 CF (note: silky hand and meduim crimp) as a lamb. Two years later, as a three year old he only coarsened 0.2 micron!

Fandango-  26.0 Ave, 6.1 SD, 23.6 CV, 10.4 CEM, 2.7<15, 75.5 CF, 25.9 SF, 22.6 Min, 29.9 Max, 69.2 CRV

PS23 Fife (moorit)an F1 Orion is 23.7 Ave, 5.4 SD, 22.6 CV, 9.5 CEM, SF23.4 and CF 88.7 (Note: very soft, but a bit cottony, very crimpy, tight crimp.) as a lamb. Two years later, as a three year old he coarsened 3.6 microns. His SD is the same and CV is 0.1 lower.

Fife- 27.3 Ave, 6.1 SD, 22.5 CV, 11.3 CEM, 1.1<15, 72.1 CF, 26.9 S,F 24.7 Min, 30.1 Max ,56.9 CRV

PS23 Craigrothie (white) an F1 Skeld was 26.6 Ave, 6.5 SD, 24.5 CV, 11.7 CEM, 26.8 SF, 72.3 CF  Four years later, as a six year old he coarsened 0.5 microns (I don't know what his lamb fleece was.) His SD and CV are both lower. 

Craigrothie-27.1Ave 6.1SD 22.6CV 11.4CEM 0.5<15 72.5CF 26.8SF 24.5Min 29.0Max 50.2CRV

Some observations from what I've seen at the mill I work at and from my own flock/herd:

Some breeds seem to change more from lambswool to adult wool than others. The longwools all seem to change a lot from lamb to adult. Some of the Coopworth lambswool (and Romney)  when carded almost seem like Corriedale. As adults they are not nearly as bouncy, are much shiner and silkier. Lincolns' lambswool is like kid mohair, but the adult can be like shiny wire. There is not such a drastic difference between lamb and adult in the Corriedales or CVM or East Frisian/ Lacaune dairy sheep (at least in a friend who has 500 of them's flock, but he is not concerned about wool so much as milk.) Those are all more med. wool. Even though Fife changed a lot on paper, I couldn't tell by the hand that he changed that much. 

The more double coated wools (American think NAIL and the BSG) show type Shetlands, Icelandic have a huge difference between lamb and adult. Icelandic lamb is fairly soft and not nearly as many guard hairs (or they are just finer.) In comparison the adult is often quite coarse. Yeah, the Icelandic breeders say that the inner coat is so fine, but from what I've seen (over 50 fleeces) the inner coat is not fine. It can be med. fine, but often is not very soft. Really double coated wools (except Karakul and SBF ) don't card very well many of the times. What happens is the inner coat which most of the time is 1/3 of the length of the rest of the fiber pills or come off the machine in clumps. However the customers who have Icelandic wool seem to love it. There are some great uses for Icelandic wool. 

Camelid both llama and alpaca-yes, even Huacaya alpaca seem to change a lot over the years. Some Huacaya that I've seen is slightly double coated with a few guard hair. Many alpaca fleeces from older animals is only med. fine to quite coarse. Some of those coarse (not next to the skin soft, more rug, blanket or strong socks grade) alpacas I know for a fact are from a "top" alpaca herd, one of which get $1000s of $ for the animals. The people who own the alpacas (many who don't spin and think if it is carded they will suddenly know how to use alpaca fiber and be able to sell it for big $$) have said where they got their animals from, some even have a copy of the animal's reg. paper in with the fleece. Yes, I have seen a handful of very nice fine and soft alpaca fleeces.I have also seen llama that has been really nice, fine and silky without any guard hairs. Most are 1-3 clip of either breed of alpaca. I'm not sure if their are any old alpacas who stay fine. If there are they are the ones who should be the sires. I know alpaca people don't really "cull"anything. They sell their lower quality animals as pets or breedingstock to be improved with the sire who is $500-1000 just for a breeding fee.

Most mohair changes a lot from kid to adult. (In a good goat the true adult grade is not until the goat is at least 4.)  Goats (as well as the camelid) seem to have a continue of gradually coarsening fleece. Hence so many grades: kid/ second clip kid/ yearling/ fine adult/ adult/ rug. In TX they have some highly selected goats who have kid grade their whole lives. Those goats are worth $1000 of dollars. The buck I got from TX is five now and his fleece was kid grade for about 3 or 4 years. When it was washed (in the grease it is easy to tell apart due to the smell) I could not tell it apart from washed kid mohair. His fleece is more of a second clip kid or very fine yearling now. The down he has a very light weight fleece. His mohair is probably only 3# per shearing. His kids all have had denser and heavier fleeces. His kids (all of which have been out of CAGBA goats) are also not as fine. I guess I need to see what his kids would be like out of pure AAGBA goats. I do have some this year, but won't know what their adult mohair will be like for a couple of years.  I have two friends who both have one of my TX guy's half brothers and both have much bigger fleeces and are not as fine. They are more yearling or fine adult grade.  

I guess the point is, except in longwools (The longwool wouldn't really be longwool grade if the adult fleece was the same as the lamb fleece) and the double coated breeds, perhaps the ones who change the least, if they can pass on not changing much as far as fleece are more valuable as breeding sires than ones who do change a lot or at least not any less valuable than a ram who starts out at 19.00-22.00 microns and then coarsens to 25/26 microns than one who started at 25/26 microns and STAYED there?