Our last ewe delivered the last big lamb of the year on Easter Sunday, so lambing season is officially over. The first lamb arrived on April 1st, and the last just three weeks later, making this a remarkably short and efficient season for us. Lambs were born at a steady pace starting on April 1st, the majority of births were quick and unassisted, and everyone seems to be doing really well. We ended up with twenty-six lambs in total, which is also a nice number for us. This lambing season was the result of the first breeding season, last fall, of our new pair of rams, and I am really happy to know that they are now proven to be effective breeders. These were two rams that we selected out of our own lamb group two years ago, so these good results are doubly reassuring in their affirmation of our genetics and the selection process. We picked, and utilize, two rams, with the understanding that if one is injured, ineffective or lost, we’ll have another who can hopefully get the job done on his own, and that finding ourselves without a viable ram would be something of a disaster. We have a dark ram, certainly the better of the two, and quite a handsome well mannered fellow, and a white one who is a bit less impressive or friendly. Both go in with the ewes on November first, and while they do a bit of arguing and rough-housing, and certainly distract each other from the task at hand from time to time, the evidence shows that they were effective. With the sheep pasture steadily growing more and more lush with spring grass, I plan to worm the sheep next week and start them transitioning
over from winter hay to grazing. We always engineer a gradual shift from the hay based winter diet to grazing out on pasture in the hope of avoiding excessive bloat, and I hope that we can begin that process for all of our ruminant grazers next week. If things go as planned, we should have the beef herd, dairy herd, and the sheep out grazing full time by next weekend. We have had plenty of rain over the past several weeks to get the grass up and growing, and now I would certainly vote for a stretch of warm sunny weather to make it all really pop.
season we are measuring this metric in days, looking at the days between when the cows graze a paddock and when they come back around the circle again to the same spot. In the early spring we try to make it around the whole rotation as quickly as we can, trying to keep up with the quickly growing grass. As pasture growth slows in the heat and dry of the summer, we try to slow the rotation down as much as possible to give the pasture the maximum time possible for regrowth. I expect the first rotation to last about thirty-five or forty days, and the rotations in the middle of summer to be closer to fifty or fifty-five days, with the ultimate goal somewhere down the line to have a rotation closer to sixty or seventy days long.
The brooder is getting really full with those broiler chicks in there growing fast. They are just about fully feathered out by now, and I think that they are ready to go out in their mobile houses on the pasture. The weather next week is not looking very nice, but I think that they are big enough to handle it. We have a batch of layer chicks coming some time next week as well, so we really need to get that brooder empty and cleaned out in preparation for those new arrivals. So far, the broiler chicks have been growing really well, and we’ve only had one mortality. Though I expect growth will slow once those birds are out of the heated brooder and moved to the cooler wetter conditions outside, I am hopeful that they will do well for us, and that we’ll have another solid addition to next year’s meat CSA. There is some hope of running these birds over fallow veggie beds seeded to cover crops, but the cool wet spring weather we’ve had so far has slowed the growth of those cover crops enough that it is looking like the plants may not be ready for this plan.