Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Seeking Advice on Ram Lamb Evaluations

I am starting to feel a tad overwhelmed in regards to all my little ram lambs. I guess it caught me off guard having so many rams being born this year. Of course it is my wish and goal to have them sold and all in good homes, whether it is as a fiber pet or as breeding stock.
The questions I have is,
"What is a good age to make the "decision" as to who to keep intake and who to wether?"
"What are some of the best indicators that one should use to make this decision?"
(like tail set, square front & rear, fleece quality, horns etc)
I read so many of your blogs and value the information/insight that many of you have and with so many boys this year, I want to try and get this as "right" as possible. I want them all, (minus one or 2 of course:) to find the right homes based on their best qualities.

My quick fix little nursery pen is getting a bit crowded. I would like the lambs to be at least 5 weeks old before I let them in with everyone else.....I know, I just worry so much that someone will step on one of them.

This is Abby's little ram. I think that he overall is turning out very nice. He is a big boy as he was a single. His markings crack me up as he has perfect patches on both his front and back legs.

What a cute little behind! His is settling up nicely, in my opinion particularly in the rear. His mom Abby, out of a Little Country Acres fawn kat ewe, has repeatly had the nicest Shetland fleece in the flock. In the picture, that is Abby to the left and her ewe lamb from last year, on the other side of the fence.

This ram lamb is a twin and has the same dam as Abby does, Little Country Acres Polly. He is just over 2 weeks old in this picture. He has the smallest of scurs also. Polly had twin kat ewes and each of her ewes are throwing some very nice fleeces to their lambs, again in my novice opinion of course:)

This kat. spotted ram is the twin to the one pictured above. In the past week, he has changed so much. He is filling out very nicely and is looking to be polled! In my opinion, he is one of the top ram lambs born this year.

It is so hard not to be overly friendly with the ram lambs but when there are 10 of the little guys, its hard not to. All the lambs this year are developing their own personalities and their little antics just bring a smile to my face:)
If your reading and have time to give some input on ram lamb evaluations, I would love to hear from you!!!!






11 comments:

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I'm here but don't feel like I can give much input. Do check their bites and make sure they have both testicles descended; those that fail on either of those points should be wethered. I'm also planning to wether two of mine who inherited their mom's wooly tail; not sure if I'll give her a second chance with another ram or not. Fleeces "falling out" after the shoulder is another reason I would wether. And I like to wait until they are at least three months old before doing the deed to them, both to better evaluate them and to let their urinary tract get some size. (Sheesh; I didn't think I was in the mood to comment!)

kristi said...

Michelle,
I am glad you mentioned the urinary tract as 2 of the vets at the clinic I go to say wether early and the other vet says at least 2-3 months of age. I have always waited till 3 months to wether, even with my goats. I do not want any blockage issues. What do you mean in regards to fleeces falling out after the shoulder?

Tracey said...

I can't give you any input other than to say those babies sure are darn cute!!
:) Tracey

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

You have to remember that vets are accustomed to working with male meat sheep who have short lives, not fiber wethers who could live a decade or longer. I'd definitely wait awhile!

Falling out at the shoulder is when the fleece characteristics change dramatically after the shoulder, usually from tight crimp on the neck and shoulders and straighter and longer from the girth back. This trait is undesirable and highly heritable. This is not the same as the presence of "lamb kemp," a halo of longer, straighter fleece with a consistent, crimpy fleece visible underneath. Lamb kemp falls out, leaving the consistent fleece that was visible beneath it; a fleece that falls out behind the girth generally retains that trait for life.

Gail V said...

Hi Kristi,
I don't think I've visited your blog before-- so fun, and so many beautiful babies!
I don't have any brilliant suggestions about your ram lambs-- not many of mine sell, so I (shudder)put them in the freezer or sell them to a guy who does in the fall or following spring.
Your spotties should find homes, though.
I covet your little brown polka-dottd lamb.
Gail at LittleRedOakFarm.blogspot

Angela Rountree said...

Hello Kristi,
I agree with everything Michelle said about wethering lambs for the aforementioned reasons. In addition, I also wether the solid or nearly solid ram lambs rather early because it is so difficult to find breeding homes for "bling-free" ram lambs. I find it much easier to work with wether lambs, who can be penned with any other animal, rather than ram lambs which must be segregated from the females. Most of my admittedlly few customers prefer fiber pet ewes, since they could still get meat lambs from the girls. That is what works for me, your farm and customers may be very different.

Kara said...

Hi Kristi,

Okay from a quick glance I love that spotted boy and the kat (really he is polled?....hmmmmm), but you know those are two of my weaknesses, along with gullies of course. No gullies? I am chasing my ram lambs around daily to check them out to try to compare. I think the kemp is a good to know as I have a few with that but are still really wonderfully crimpy underneath it, now I am not so worried. You seem to be getting good advice and are keeping important things in mind. Good luck.

Juliann said...

Hi Kristi,

I really try to not even look at them for evaluation purposes until they are at least several months old. You'll want to wait for balls & bite, of course, those are givens. Sometimes an uneven bite will even out, and sometimes a dropped teste can shrink up and that's no good.
Lambs can grow into a heavy tail or overly large ears, don't write them off to early. If the ram lambs are horned, gotta wait on the horns. If they are scurred, I at least want to know if they will be long scurred or short scurred, and if the scurs will need periodic trimming.
Remember that the ram lamb has the potential to greatly influence somebody's flock, so you'll want to be confident that he's a good one!
It is not uncommon for breeders to refuse to sell ram lambs at all, only selling them when they are yearlings or older so they are sure he's a good animal.
Shetlands change so much the first two years of their lives. So I guess what I'm saying is the longer you wait, the better.

Tammy said...

I can see why you are overwhelmed.... I'm starting evaulations on the little lambs right now, but I agree with Juliann--it's best to wait until they are a little older to do final evals. as they can and do change and can grow into what we precieve as a fault, and might just be an awkward stage. Some things you might consider if you want to place some as fiber wethers--those with the sweetest pushiest personalities that have nothing outstanding to promote them as a ram--should be considered first to be wethered. Their personalities can sell them--people want sweet pets. Rams with bling do sell better because that is what is popular, but a good solid ram lamb with excellent rear, conformation and presence can also sell. Esp. if they do carry spots. I wouldn't get in a huge hurry, as I think as things sort out and the lambs get some growth on them, it will be easier to tell who stands out and passes the 'ram test'. Take a deep breath......;-)
Tammy

Mama said...

I haven't the slightest clue about sheep I just wanted to say that they are all really pretty;)

kristi said...

Michelle,
see I learned something new today!! Thank you!

Tracey,
thanks for stopping by:) Congrats. on your 2 awards!!!

Gail,
thanks for visiting! I so hope the spotted boys find good flock homes, of course I am assuming they all turn out well:)

Angela,
I totally see your point in the solid color guys. This is one of my fears in having solid color rams and one of the reasons I was concerned on how long I should give the guys to mature. Thank you for your input;)

Kara,
I have 2 ewes left to lamb and I know they are Jed. bred so I am praying for at least one ewe and a gullie:) I love my Jammer but boy did he give me boys!! That kat ram is really turning out nice & I am definitely leaning towards him being polled. I just am trying to get this lambing season as "right" as I can:)

Juliann,
That is what I needed to hear, I don't want to rush, but having so many rams this year, I just want to have some type of guide lines and time frame; esp. because I have possible horns/scurs/polled out there (I get anxious because I want to speed up time so I know what is out there:). Like I would have never picked Jasper, the now full polled black ram lamb from last year as a "pick" but he has so turned out to be a nice ram and I think he would make an awesome herdsire. So much to learn....

Tammy,
I know, a deep breath, a little patience.....so hard. I do love all these little rams and they are already developing their own personalities and I love sitting with them as they climb all over me and "check" me out. Time is of the essence, right? so which one will you be taking? LOL

Mama,
all the more reason to start now with sheep:)