#LAMBMETRICS for the day
Drysdale & English Leicester Flocks
Born today: 2
Total Lambs Born: 113
Drysdale lambs (live total): 52
English Leicester lambs (live total): 38
English Leicester X lambs (live total): 14
Total Sets of Twins born: 36
Total Sets of Triplets born: 1
Total ewe lambs: 59
Total ram lambs: 54
Ewes lambed /77: 76 (98.7 %)
Lamb % : 137 % [live]
Losses: 9 [lamb]; 0 [ewe]
Notable Midwifery tales:
There hasn’t been much action for a few days so it was about time the English Leicesters shook things up a little!
It was a very quiet start to the day with nothing appearing to be happening so I decided to take poor, time-neglected Floss for a good, long walk in the paddock where the yearlings, wethers and “empties” are. It’s been a little while since I’ve had time to do so. They’ve been living the life of Riley with plenty to eat and no humans interfering! It was good to catch up – and nose-bump – with Mr Squishy, NotSquishy and Hippo. 🙂 (Pet lambs from 2016)
I’d been a little hopeful that young Cassie was indeed pregnant (just not due until mid-October, due to THIS rendezvous) so I wanted to check on her as well as a general welfare check on the random sheepy assortment in that paddock.
Good news! I’m pretty sure she’s pregnant….. 😉
So, Cassie needed to come up to the Maternity paddock where I can keep an eye on the minx.
Cassie’s mum (Flopsy) and aunt (Mopsy) had scanned empty back in June which was pretty sad since they are silver English Leicesters and I finally HAVE a ram that would guarantee they have silver lambs.
Turns out Flopsy had one tucked away that the scanner missed….
This little guy is very, very cute.
Now Cassie has a little brother and they arrived up at the sheds and took over immediately. LOL
Mopsy led the troops into the shed and demanded food! The last time she lambed it was a very tough experience with pregnancy toxemia – that was when I delivered Mona and her sister. Mopsy was in the shed for weeks. She figures she owns it. Haha
I left them to all get reacquainted.
Late this afternoon I went back over to get some water pipes re-jigged and discovered that Mona did indeed want her mum – and had just delivered her bub!
Of course, Granny Mopsy came to inspect and photobomb. LOL
A lovely little boy!
And now there is only one left to lamb (not including late-to-the-party Cassie).
Hoping to get back in the workshop in the next few days to crank up the dye pots and sort out more wool ready for a store update and for the Fibre Advent Calendars! Plus, a new processing run of our Duchess wool/silk blend!
“Better late than never”
Finally (finally!) have all the Drysdales shorn which means they are fly-safe, grass seed-safe and happy campers in general!
It’s been a challenge to get my shearer – have been trying for 2 months – but we’re all good now.
A good shearer is a thing to cherish. There are more good shearers around than some “interest groups” would like you to believe. The handful of “bad apples” wouldn’t last long here that’s for sure.
So, back to the fluff! This was the first shearing for the Drysdale lambs (born Aug-Sept). There aren’t many breeds of sheep that can produce 15-20cm (4-6″) of wool growth in their first 4 months! Give a Drysdale protein and it just pumps out the wool.
As you will know (from reading the info on our Drysdale page…) the Drysdale fleece is a primitive type of fleece with medullated outer coat and soft, fine undercoat. In lambs this is less defined as the undercoat is typically the same length as the outercoat at this stage.
This means they need shearing 2-3 times a year, on average, to keep the fleece to a “commercial” length.
This was the first time for the lambs in the shearing shed (they will see a bit of it over their lives….) and it was a warm day today. Even so, I was pleasantly surprised as to just how ZEN the lambs were this time.
Lambs aren’t supposed to be this quiet… they are supposed to be stark-raving loonies, terrified by the world and trying to kill each other in the process. Ooops. Drysdales didn’t get that memo! 😆 😆
I said zen…. ahem….
And even afterwards the calm continues:
Heck, some of them even had a nap in the “going out chute”. 😆 Unheard of!
Extra trivia: when you wear 40 micron wool it’s great to get it off and have a good scratch!
The last few weeks have been busy with getting ready for shearing and then the actual shearing (for nearly a full week) and now just catching up on everything else!
The fleeces were quite good this year but some did show damage from the summer rainfall events we had over December/January.
Shearing here is a small affair compared to my neighbours and “the big guys”. I only get in one shearer (that I trust) and a neighbour helps with the classing. We generally do 100-130 per day. (Pretty small compared to the thousands at some places! hehe) Normally, the wool is pressed into large bales as we go. This year I had to put the wool aside and then bale it after the event.
One question I get asked is: “why do you shear when it is getting close to winter??”
The answer is a little complex but I will attempt to explain.
- One major factor has to do with the tensile strength of the wool fibre and the role that different phases of reproduction have on it. In this case, when the ewes lamb and then lactate it puts stress on the system and they divert protein from wool growth into their pregnancy and milk. This can cause a thinner/weaker area to develop along the fibre. If the stressful period is nearly halfway between shearings then the fibre can have a “break” (ie. “tender”) right in the middle. So, a fleece that is a very usable length of 8-10cm all of a sudden becomes downgraded because its length will be 4-5cm when put under tension. Processing puts stress on the fibres and for combed wools the minimum length is 5cm/50mm. Sound wool (ie. not tender) is much preferred by the processors and tender wool gets a discounted price. Since shifting the shearing time to May the merino wool from the farm has greatly improved tensile strength which means better product (less pilling and less wastage, also the fibre length is maintained at the 10-11cm).
- With the weather becoming cooler the sheep adjust their metabolism accordingly. Cool weather is becoming the “norm” and so if colder weather/rain comes after shearing then they handle it better than if, say, they were shorn in the warmer weather and then a cold snap happened. Sudden cold weather in the summer months is more likely to cause problems.
- The shearing off of the fleece stimulates wool growth and oil secretions so post-shearing there will be a surge in wool growth which helps to provide the sheep with some growth going into the winter and the extra oils provide protection from the wet and cold. Each breed is a little different. For example, the Drysdales grow their wool so fast anyway that within a month of shearing they have over 25mm of growth. The Merino ewes I have are also growing wool quite fast (comparatively, to some lines of Merino) – they are almost at the point of being able to shear twice a year.
- There is also the benefit that because at lambing the ewes feel the cold more, they lamb in more protected areas which helps to reduce lambing losses due to wind/cold exposure.
Shearing is a necessary activity for the health and well-being of the sheep. Done in a professional manner it is all completed in under 3 minutes per sheep. When the sheep has been released it is generally relaxed, will chew its cud and often they have a scratch (they can finally “get at that spot”!) Sometimes, they even try to come back into the shed…!
The second day of the Bothwell SpinIn was warmer than the first – so our umbrellas were up to keep us nice and shaded.
Most of the day was spent talking to people. There were fibre fans from all over Australia. I even learned about how someone had previously used Drysdale fleece in a woven vest!
There was the fashion parade and a host of awards given out. (Details on the Bothwell SpinIn website)
But mostly, I just chatted and spun…. and made sure The Lucky Ewe got to rest too. 🙂
I finally gave in and purchased some of the GORGEOUS Cormo fleece that was brought along to the Festival by the local Downie family – who developed this Aussie breed of sheep. (In fact…. there may be some of the coloured Cormo fleece available in the Shop tomorrow night…. Don’t miss out!)
The Ashford stand may have had a visit from me too… I needed some more bobbins and a new reed for my rigid heddle.
But mostly there were lots and lots of talking, and admiring woolcraft and spinning. 🙂