Weaning, 120 Day Weights & First Fecal Samples
Lambs were weaned when the average age of the lambs were around 100 days old. At that point the ram lambs, ewe lambs and adult rams graze as one group while the adult ewes graze as another group. About 30 days later, when the adult ewes are dried up, the ewe lambs will join the adult ewe group.
We absolutely love our Combi Clamp, the sheep just flow much better through the system and makes working a group of over 450 sheep much more bearable when only two people are working (plus a few dogs).
The dogs push from the rear and things go well as long as we keep things flowing and keep the dogs engaged. Weighing, sorting for weaning and spot check FAMACHA took just over 3.5 hours.
120 Day Weights
We are generally satisfied with this years growth. In our minds we separate growth (phenotype, the actual weight you see) from growth genetics (genotype, the genetic potential). Phenotype, the actual size of the lambs are very dependent on the forage available, temperatures, rain etc., it varies from year to year and the management decisions we make. NSIP EBVs help us evaluate genotype based on data that we submit as well as other farms that participate in the program.
Top 10 Ram Lambs - Born Twin / Raised Twin - From Adult Ewes
120 Day weights range from 80 lb. to 92 lb.
Top 10 Ram Lambs - Born Triplet / Raised Triplet - From Adult Ewes
120 Day weights range from 58 lb. to 68 lb.
Top 10 Ram Lambs - Born Single / Raised Single - From Ewe Lambs
120 Day weights range from 73 lb. to 83 lb.
First Fecal Samples
We do not deworm our lambs at weaning and we do not avoid parasites when grazing our lambs. We actively work to expose lambs to parasites so that we can evaluate their parasite resistance. This can and does have an impact on production, we prioritize evaluation of parasite resistance over the loss in production. We also do not blanket deworm lambs, we only deworm lambs that demonstrate that they require it.
To evaluate parasite resistance the group you are evaluating needs an average FEC (fecal egg count) of at least 500. This year we had an average of just over 730, so distinguishing good from not so good should be easy.
Many ask why you need a parasite load to measure parasite resistance. Imagine you had all your lambs on dry lot where they never get exposed to parasites, they all probably will have close to zero eggs per gram in their manure. This does not mean that they are parasite resistant, it also does not mean that they are not, you just don't know. Even on pasture you might have low parasite exposure, that is why the average needs to be high enough to provide evidence that there was a parasite challenge.
This year the best 221 lambs were responsible for 50% of the parasite eggs while the worst 50 lambs were responsible for the other 50% of the parasites. By addressing 50 lambs we can eliminate 50% of parasite eggs being shed.
We will be collecting a second fecal sample in the next few weeks.