There’s a lot of information contained in the data we collect at ultrasounding, and the days that follow are filled with trying to make sense of the numbers. Sometimes I don’t know quite what to make of the numbers I’m working with, and at other times things make sense. For example, I was not surprised to find that both of Gabby’s daughters, Nelly and Olive, are in our high-nutrition group with their mother. Like Gabby, Nelly is carrying triplets, and Olive is in the group because she is still a lamb herself and carrying a single lamb of her own. I’ve always known that Gabby’s line is very fertile, but seeing these three each day as I feed the high-nutrition group makes it very obvious that we could always use more Gabby daughters and granddaughters! They are not only fertile, good-sized and fast-growing, but they also have great conformation and lovely fleece — all things we want to see more of!
One observation that I’m not quite sure what to do with centers on the productivity of the adult rams. It’s well known that the number of lambs a ewe delivers is mostly dependent upon the genetics of that ewe (as long as the ram is not infertile or of low fertility). If she sheds three eggs, she will deliver triplets, but if only one egg, she will have a single. Yet when I look over this year’s breeding groups, I come across a situation I cannot explain. Our ram Nahe had nine ewes in his group (six adults and three lambs); Muldoon had nine ewes (seven adults and two lambs); Noa had eight ewes (all adults). The groups were all about the same size in the Romeldale/CVMs. Yet when you look at the distribution of lambs across the groups, things get interesting. Nahe’s group is set to deliver only about ten lambs, whereas Noa’s group is carrying about nineteen lambs and Muldoon’s about seventeen. The small difference between Noa’s and Muldoon’s makes sense due to the age differences of the ewes — girls under one year of age will carry fewer lambs than the adult girls. I cannot help but question why Nahe has so few lambs coming from his group. There is no good explanation that I can think of. There is a discrepancy, but the cause is unknown.
Another interesting observation of the numbers centers on the group of ewes in the high nutrition group. As I laid out the flock’s due dates on the calendar, I noticed that a lot of the girls carrying triplets or quads are all due in early March within a few days of each other. That week is typically pretty busy, since it’s usually the peak of the bell curve of our lambing for both breeds. This year it’s only true of the Romeldales, since the Romneys peak 2-3 weeks later. Yet, in the four days from March 1-4, we should be welcoming a total of about twenty Romeldale lambs! Yes, twenty! Gabby, Hope, Koko, and Ivy are all scheduled to deliver triplets (or more) during that time frame, joined by Nisan, Nypsi, and Natasha, who are carrying twins. It will obviously be a very busy time!
The final bit of interesting data we collected involves the due dates of related pairs of ewes, something I always find interesting. Although menstrual synchronicity is controversial as it applies to human women, the heat cycles of closely related sheep do seem to synchronize, at least in our flock! For example, Ossidy is Millie’s daughter, born this past spring. Not only were they in different breeding groups, but Millie’s group was housed at a farm some miles from here. Yet, Millie and Ossidy are both due on February 17th, having been marked on the same day (Sept. 20th). Odds are that they will deliver and have adjoining lambing jugs in our barn. Also in a familial synchronization this year are Jypsi and Lolita (mother and daughter), Hope and Myth (mother and daughter), Fern and Kabernet (aunt and niece, and close friends), and January and Olympia (aunt and niece, and close friends).
There are other pairs who cycled together, but then one of the pair didn’t settle; when she cycled again, she settled. Nypsi, another daughter of Jypsi, cycled with her mother and half sister in late September but didn’t breed until the next cycle. Ireland, daughter of Hope, also cycled in late September with her mother and half sister (Myth), but didn’t settle until the next cycle. Hannah and half sister Grace both cycled and were marked on the same day early in the breeding season. Only Grace settled, but Hannah cycled again later and was bred then. I could go on, but the point is that ewes who share a bloodline or who are bonded together often seem to cycle together. I love when this happens, since when it does, the ewes bond even more strongly as their lambs meet each other in neighboring lambing jugs and later in the same mixing group. Their lambs often bond as playmates, and the family line connections then continue forward into the next generation and beyond. It is a beautiful thing to watch.
Yes, there was a lot of interesting information in our ultrasound results. I’m only just beginning to digest it all, and I’m sure I will share more as I do.