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1,687 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last year i lambed the first three weeks of April. We had three blizzards in three weeks. i lost so many lambs from the storms that i stopped counting. At the end of lambing i decided i would never again lamb before the last chance of frost. In this area of Montana that is the 20th of May.
But I start my ewes on an intensive rotational grazing program starting the 10th of May. How do i lamb while in the grazing rotation?
After pondering about the problem i remembered a book i had read several years ago called More Sheep More grass More Money. In it he tells how he lambs in Canada on a large government lease.
he had two herds the herd in the front was called the drop band and the heard that followed three days behind was the pairs band.He would move the drop band slowly all day and when a ewe would lamb she would fall out of the herd. he would keep moving the herd every day losing ewes along the way. three days behind the pairs band would come and gather the ewes with lambs. he depended on his livestock guard dogs to protect the ewes with lambs that were separated from the herd.

I saw no reason why it would not work with my paddock system. My plan was to put a small pen around every ewe that lambed in the drop band before i moved the drop band to the next paddock. then i would tag and band and vaccinate the lambs and turn the ewe and lambs out.for three days on the fourth i would move the pairs band in to the paddock and combine the ewes and lambs with the pairs band.
But that is not the way it worked out.
on the morning of the third day of lambing i found three ewes had lambed during the night. so i went to get the small pens we call them jugs to put around the ewes. I am not known for my gate closing expertise and when i cam back i find the drop band streaming through the gate.I get to the gate just as the last ewe goes through it. To my amazement the three ewes are still in the paddock so i close the gate on them.
As i stood there my mind was flooded with questions. here are the questions i had and some of the answers i have gotten.
Will the ewes separate them selves if i don't use the jugs at all?

So i don't need to use the jugs at all?
No i need to jug a ewe with triplets for 24 hours.

Will the older lambs follow there mother out the gate?
some times

what do you do when a lamb tries to follow its mother out the gate?
Using a sheepherders hook catch the lamb put it behind the paddock gate so it can not get in to the new paddock. the ewe will fallow the lamb and stay with it and not go though the gate. if the ewe goes through the gate just close the gate after the herd goes through and in a moment the ewe will come back for her lamb open the gate and let the ewe reunite with her lamb.

What do you do if you don't catch the lamb and it gets in to the next paddock with its mother?
no worries tomorrow is another day.

will drift lambing increase the number of bum lambs?
To my surprise no. i am over 200 lambs now and i have just 6 bum lambs.

then you are getting more dead lambs?
Again no. I have had 5 stillborn. two died of birth defects even after i helped them. one died of ecoli. And three of hollow belly. for a total of 11 deaths

Hollow belly?
Starvation. one die of starvation because he crawled under the gate and couldn't get back to mom. I prevented this from happening by marking the lambs born in a paddock with a unique marking. such as paint on the head paint on the shoulders or on the hips. i also use three different colors. i have found two lambs in the wrong paddock and rescued them.

have I run in to unexpected problems?
Yes. several one is in the drop band i had 4 or 5 ewes that always started the drift. the day cam that those ewes that started the drift lambed and i had no ewe to start the drift. I have no answer to that problem but i am trying to use my pack goats as Judas goats. to get the herd to move. I think tomorrow i will try animal crackers treats for my pack goats.

The moving the pairs band is giving me a fit moving them in the morning is not working the lambs don't want to get out of there beds and when they do it is off to the races. And the finish line is not through the gate.Today i observed that during the heat of the day the lambs are less energetic and will fallow mother better. I never thought that the time of day would be so inportant.

Tomorrow i will try moving both the pairs band and the drop band in the heat of the day,

Do i like it?
My body likes it. before i would pick up the lamb to move it in to the horse trailer then i would pick it up again to take it out of the horse trailer and move it in to the barn. then i would pick it up to vaccinate and tag it. then i would pick it up and move the lamb to the out door pens.
With drift lambing i pick the lamb up to tag and vaccinate it and that is all.
There is a No worries, relax, go with the flow mentality that i need right now.
I sleep at night and have time during the day to do things fun. like catching three swarm of honey bees.
But most of all i like the prosses of exploring new managment systems and working through the challenges.

1,060 Posts
Thanks so much for sharing about this! I have found the time of day matters when moving goat kids and does, too. I like to move them when the kids are just a bit hungry. They follow much better that way. If they're full, they just want to sleep, and if they're too hungry, the doe will stop to nurse them, get left behind by the group, and cause all kinds of chaos.

1,687 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Lambing has been bone for a week
Over 300 lambs born
23 lambs died from all causes. The causes were birth, starvation, coyote.
7 bum lambs
The numbers are close to barn lambing.
23 deaths with Drift lambing. Compared to 30 with barn lambing
7 bums is a surprise. With barn lambing I would have over 25. I suspect the warmer weather and less chilled lambs lower pneumonia.
My back feels great.
The stress level is way down
I will be doing it again.
With some changes
They are
before breading exam every udder
Flush the ewes better

My tool kit needs to be better the ATV bounced the tool all over and made it hard to find the right one

That's all I think I will change

30,656 Posts
Very interesting. I'm dizzy thinking about that many sheep/lambs lol
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