Our ultrasound technician scanned our ewes late yesterday, providing us with a peek at what we can expect from our flock in the coming year. Although no scan is 100% accurate, over the years we have found our technician to be accurate enough that we base the nutritional level of our sheep on her results. By the time she left, about an hour or two after her arrival, I felt like we had a pretty good idea about what to expect during lambing in the coming year.
I had mentioned in Wednesday’s blog that I was a bit nervous about what we would discover — and in some ways, this year’s scans lived up to my expectations. I was a bit worried that we would have a number of open ewes, and that was certainly true of the Romney flock: we will be welcoming about 1/3 fewer lambs than we would normally expect from those girls. I honestly cannot tell you why this is true — only that it is, based on our data. From the information I have collected, it seems that the entire Romney breeding season ran two to three weeks later than usual, meaning that the majority of our Romney ewes were bred late in our breeding window. Even though I ran our breeding season for an extra week, we still ended up with several Romney ewes who were missed altogether, leaving them open this year. Still, things look much better from the Romney vantage point than they might at first seem.
There were a couple of surprises in the Romney group that stand out. A pleasant surprise was the fact that Zoe’s great-granddaughter, O’Chloe, born last spring at Oak Creek Farm in Norwalk, IA, was bred this fall by Martin and is due to lamb in March 2016. When I traded for her, I was thrilled to have another ewe tracing back to our previous matriarch, Zoe. The fact that this young great-granddaughter has now bred as a lamb makes her that much more valuable to our flock — yes, O’Chloe is a gem! A second surprise came when we scanned Liberty, a ewe we had originally purchased as a lamb from Aurora Ranch in Massachusetts in 2012. This particular girl is not very large in size, but this year she has made a big splash in our flock: she is the only one of our Romney ewes carrying triplets! Hooray for Liberty!
The Romeldale/CVM ewes were as fertile as ever. Unlike the Romneys, the Romeldales are not really seasonal breeders — they are ready to breed pretty much all year round. As a result, the timing of our breeding season did not have the impact among these ewes that we saw in the Romneys. Five of our ewes scanned with triplets, and another two (Hope and Ivy) scanned with triplets that could possibly be quads. This means that about 1/3 of the adult Romeldale ewes are carrying three or more lambs each — a very nice situation for our flock! In addition to these numbers, three of the six ewe lambs we added to the Romeldale/CVM flock are also bred and should be delivering their own lambs this coming spring. Yes, for the Romeldales, this looks to be a very good year!
So in the end, the statistics look like this:
- Total adult Romney ewes: 16
- Open adult Romney ewes: 6
- Total lambs expected from adult Romneys: 18
- Singles: 3
- Twins: 5
- Triplets: 1
- Too early to know: 1 ewe – estimating 2 lambs
- Total current Romney ewe lambs: 6
- Currently open Romney ewe lambs: 5
- Total lambs expected from bred Romney ewe lambs: 1
- Overall flock total of Romney lambs expected: 19
- Total adult Romeldale/CVM ewes: 23
- Open adult Romeldale/CVM ewes: 1
- Total lambs expected from adult Romeldale/CVMs: 48
- Singles: 5
- Twins: 10
- Triplets: 5
- Possible quads: 2
- Total current Romeldale/CVM ewe lambs: 5
- Currently open Romeldale/CVM ewe lambs: 2
- Total lambs expected from Romeldale/CVM ewe lambs: 3
- Overall flock total of Romeldale/CVM lambs expected: 51
Overall total of lambs expected at Peeper Hollow Farm in 2016: 70
Number of ewes currently in high-nutrition group (getting alfalfa hay and grain blend) in Sheep Barn: 13
Number of ewes currently in low-nutrition group (getting grass hay) in Storage Barn: 37
This begins the count-down to lambing, now only about two months away!