Weaning Lambs

Weaning Lambs

This last week we have weaned some of the larger lambs from their mothers, which means drafting (separating) them out and putting them in a different paddock so they can no longer feed from their mums.  We usually leave a few ewes with the weaner mob to ensure they know how to find the water trough and I imagine other such guidance on grazing around the paddock.  The lambs are now big enough to support themselves and there are great pastures for them to go onto. Weaning gives the ewes a break and the opportunity to get back in peak condition before having their next lamb. Some of the mums out will there know what a draw on the body breastfeeding can be!

As part of the weaning process, we’ve kept the mob in a paddock next to the yards and have been moving them in and out of the yards daily. This gets them used to being handled, particularly in closer proximity to us, like in the yards. We move them in and around the yards, allowing them to walk up and through the race (long skinny yard where they are weighed).  You can see them flowing into the race yard in the video below.

When we do want to bring them through the yards for a genuine reason like weighing or sale, they are more accustomed to the process and much calmer about the whole affair.  With just the few days of daily handling, their behaviour has already changed significantly.  In the paddock when we begin to round them up to bring them to the yards, they walk calmly in the desired direction, rather than taking off running as soon as we approach.

Sheep and cows are herding animals, which goes back to their instinct to come together as a mob when predators were about or they were threatened or scared in some way.  This innate behaviour makes moving them easier for us, as they naturally come together as a mob when we start to round them up.  So, when we move some sheep from one yard to another, the rest of them want to follow. There’ll always be a leader or a few leaders in any mob, just like in the schoolyard; they lead off and the others follow! You can see the followers waiting their turn to head up the race in the video.  Whilst I’m out of picture to the right behind them, me and my Kelpie, Lucy, are standing well off them, not applying much pressure at all.

As a bonus this last week, the rain we’ve had means the yards have been a delight to work in; as they can often be quite dusty.

This is all part of the Low Stress Stockhandling approach of working our animals, which means a better life for the sheep and cows and a better quality grass fed product in the end.

If you would like one of our grass fed, chemical free beef or lamb hampers – you can see the choices here.