Animals, Around the Homestead

A Day at Home…

Friday I was off and home by myself.  During the week when we are at work Dad comes down once it is light out and lets our sheep out to pasture.  Today I got to let them out myself.  They are so excited to go out on wheat pasture.  They run and jump and are so cute.

The first few pictures I took were blurry because I had a little black and white sheep jumping on me.

Guess which one it was???

Bet you can’t guess

And last but not least is the big guy heading out to guard his girls.

Hank is such a great guard llama.  He has really been a good investment and does so well with the sheep.  Llamas convert their feed to energy very well, so it takes very little forage for a llama to maintain a healthy weight.  This was just one of the characteristics about llamas we used to convince ourselves we could afford to take on Sylvia and then Celia and Lexus when they all needed homes and the thought of them ending up in a sale barn and then who knows where was too much for us to bear.  Hank stays with the girls and does great with them even when they are lambing.  During breeding we had enough llamas to keep one llama with each breeding group.  Now that we are no longer breeding the girls all stay together with the rams.

Three weeks before letting our ewes out on wheat pasture we began adding magnesium oxide to their salt and mineral to help prevent wheat pasture poisoning (grass tetany).  So far it seems to work well as we haven’t had any incidents of grass tetany the few years we have been fortunate enough to have wheat pasture to graze.

We also have a pen with three ewes who no longer have their front teeth so they are unable to break off the wheat and graze well enough to sustain themselves and the lambs they are carrying.

They get some really nice hay, a protein tub, and rolled corn every evening.  They also have a nice little shed Randy built full of fresh straw to snuggle up in at night.  These ewes are from the original 15 we bought to start this adventure.  We’re not sure how old they were when they bought them, but were sold to us as “older ewes.”  We have had them  six years this fall.  The life expectancy of a sheep is about 10-12 years, but their prime production years are from 3-6 years and begin tapering off around 7 years of age. (source)

Although they are’t going to win any medals anytime soon, they look so much better than they did when we first realized they were falling behind the other and pulled them from the rest of the flock.

After I got the old girls situated I set up all the feeders to start the rest of the girls on corn for the final six weeks of their gestation.

All it took was about three kernels of corn to hit that first feeder and those little chubby, wooly, pregnant sheep came running.  We start them off gradually anytime we change feed on them, especially with grain.  We will continue to increase their corn until we get them up to 1/4 to 1/2 lb until they begin lambing.  Our Texels take very little grain to maintain during their pregnancy, but we will have to keep a close eye on the Romanovs.  They tend to have more lambs and may need a little more grain to ensure they don’t get pregnancy toxemia.

So far everyone looks healthy and happy…we hope it stays that way through lambing season.

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