With Romeldale/CVM Ilaina’s delivery of a single ewe lamb Quiana late on Friday, our lambing season drew to an end. It was quite a finish, since Quiana is not only a beautiful ewe lamb, but also the heaviest lamb of the season weighing in at 16.1 lbs! The next largest lamb is also a single ewe lamb: Romeldale Koko’s baby Quinine, weighing 14.4 lbs. The heaviest ram lambs both weighed 14.3 lbs: Romney twin Qayin, belonging to Heavenly, and Romeldale/CVM twin Quan, belonging to Lolita.
Earlier this season, I was asked in one of the blog comments:
“Noticed that you have some lower birth weights this year. Is this just something that has no explanation, or could this be due to the parasite problems from last summer? Just wondering…”
At that time, with only 25% of the lambs on the ground, I replied that it was premature to make any statements on birth weights. Now, with all of our lambs weighing in, I can perhaps try to answer this question – but let’s begin with the figures. There were thirty-one Romeldale/CVM lambs born to our flock, fifteen ewes and sixteen rams. Ram lambs typically weigh a bit more and gain a bit better than ewe lambs, and this is true when looking at the flock averages this year. The average birth weight for our Romeldale ram lambs was 10.9 pounds, spanning a range from the smallest (Qremlin, Natasha’s boy) at 6.1 lbs to Quan, mentioned above. The Romeldale ewe lambs averaged a birth weight of 10.8 lbs, spanning a range of 7.5 lbs at the low end (Quesadilla, Olive’s girl) to Quiana, again mentioned above.
Among the Romney flock, we ended up with a total of fifteen lambs: nine ewe lambs and six ram lambs. The average Romney ram lamb weighed 11.0 pounds, ranging from a low of 8.3 lbs (Qelton, son of O’Chloe) to Qayin, mentioned above. The Romney ewe lambs averaged a birth weight of 10.7 lbs, with the smallest surviving ewe lamb weighing in at 7.3 lbs (Quella, Obella’s girl) and the largest tipping the scales at 13.0 lbs (Quaker, Heavenly’s bottle lamb).
These weights are within a half pound of our multi-year, overall average birth weight of 11.2 lbs for both breeds, and honestly, I’m not sure whether I would put this small difference at the doorstep of last year’s parasites, since all of our ewes were dewormed to eliminate any parasites that they might have carried over the winter, compromising their nutritional intake during gestation. I think the more likely culprit may be the particularly warm weather we had again this year during most of the lambing season. We have found in past years that the warmer the ewes are physically, the earlier they tend to deliver their lambs, and we saw many early deliveries this year. When lambs come even a day or two earlier than they would have, they can easily be a half pound or more lighter, since lambs put on the bulk of their birth weight in the final couple of weeks before they arrive.
Most of this year’s breeding groups were set up to produce replacement rams for our flock, and I believe we have accomplished that. I have a large number of Dark moorit brown ram lambs in our Romeldale flock that will be closely monitored for various traits in hopes that one or more might be exactly what I am looking for (more on this in future blogs). Among the Romneys, too, I was hoping to find one or two ram lambs who could perhaps be used for breeding within our flock, and I have my eye on a few of those boys, too.
We spent this past weekend shifting gears from lambing to evaluating: washing and putting away lambing towels, cleaning and putting away buckets and hanging hay feeders used in the jugs, eliminating the drop pen and expanding the mixing pen (which has now become the general population of ewes and their lambs), and generally straightening up the lambing barn. These next few months will be all about keeping a close eye on our lambs, making sure that they stay healthy and well fed so that as many as possible will grow into beautiful, productive members of our flock or the flocks of others looking for our bloodlines. Oh, and enjoying the antics of our lambs as they discover the world around them!