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What class of sheep to use for training


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#1 herdcentral

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 08:13 AM

Well I am slowly building up my sheep flock of polled Wiltshires. I now have 17 ewes, 2 rams and 8 whethers.

I am thinking ahead as to whether I have just a ewe flock or if I should also maintain a small whether flock. I work my ewes with my BC and actually prefer to use them as they are more of a challenge than my whether flock.

However I am thinking that working them when they are heavily pregnant and when they have very young lambs is not the thing to do. With Wiltis, if you get them up to weight they will breed at 7 months old so I dont have a ewe lamb flock, basically all the ewes are pregnant from February onwards.

Obviously a whether flock are not productive as they dont cut wool, Wiltis being a shedding type. Would I be correct in thinking that I probably need a separate whether flock. I guess the other option is to keep a separate ewe lamb flock and just dont mate them on their first cycle so I always have sheep to train with.

Any suggestions? What is the general protocol for training sheep and pregnant ewes. I am working my way up to about 60 ewes

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#2 juliepoudrier

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 08:47 AM

My first choice would be to hold the ewe lambs back and not breed them until they're at least a year old. Use them as your training sheep. It would save you from having to keep a separate flock, and it probably would only affect your lambing rate the first year you hold them back. (That is, there'd be the first year you held lambs back when you'd breed fewer ewes, but then the following year those yearling ewe lambs would go into the breeding flock and so your breeding ewe numbers would be back up to "normal.")

Also it's okay to work your heavily pregnant use, as long as you work them gently. Exercise is good for them and could help prevent lambing problems, as long as it's slow, gentle exercise.

J.

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#3 jomur

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 09:31 AM

I agree with Julie.That system is what I have used for the last 10 years and it works well.In late fall I send my wether lambs to market and keep the ewe lambs for next season training.I don't keep a ram but "aquire " one in the fall for breeding of my ewes.That way I avoid accidental breeding.I acquire the ram by borrowing (usually in exchange for one of his lambs) or purchase the sell after use.

#4 herdcentral

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 11:21 AM

Okay, that sounds like the plan to work to. Thanks!

I have one of my rams currently leased out and have one that is currently going over the ewes at the moment. The wiltipoll rams are not common where I live as I am embedded in Merino country, but Wiltshires have such a strictly defined breeding season that the rams can be run year round with the ewes. I do try and lease my boys out to various people who want to get stronger shedding in their Dorper crosses through the year and bring them back February to April for my girls. They are pretty popular and I usually get hay and grain in return.

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