Getting Sheep Bred - Timing, Cycles and Success Stories

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Farmfresh
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Getting Sheep Bred - Timing, Cycles and Success Stories

Unread post by Farmfresh » Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:39 am

We started a discussion about this in another thread and I decided we need a dedicated spot to share about breeding our flocks and when, how and why we do what we do. There is a lot to learn about the subject and a lot to learn from each other and I want to be able to find it all again when I need it.

Sometimes lessons are learned by accident. Typically I was breeding my ewes in early October. With a five month gestation that means lambs in late Feb to March. Last year I did not get Moses until December because the man I bought him from was using him on another herd of sheep. At that time I was a bit disgusted about breeding so late. Then we had the nasty winter we did last year and I was GLAD so glad that I had late lambs! Because of that lesson learned, I am planning on breeding in November this year instead of October like I did before.

Another lesson learned the dumb way. Before I spaced out the ewes breeding. I bred a couple and then a couple weeks later bred a couple more. Last year I bred them all together. Then I stressed about it. I thought it would be awful having them all coming at the same time. Now that I did it that way I see how nice it was. Less time watching and worrying. All the lambs about the same age. Weaning at the same times. Shots at the same times. I am doing that again as well.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

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Farmfresh
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Re: Getting Sheep Bred - Timing, Cycles and Success Stories

Unread post by Farmfresh » Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:03 am

Now for some basics...

* We discussed in another thread the differences between hair sheep and wool breeds, so I won't do that here, but suffice it to say some breeds only breed in the fall without modern chemical interventions and others breed year round.

* Sheep typically cycle every 13 to 19 days. This depends a bit on breed. Some breeds it is every 17 to 21 days.

* BEFORE you breed your sheep, you want them in good health. Early fall is the time to trim feet, do fecal exams and deworm. Both rams and ewes need this done. Both also need health checked and to have teeth checked. An old ewe with bad teeth will not be able to eat properly and won't be able to do well developing lambs and providing milk for them. A ram with health issues will not be able to do his business well either.

* FLUSHING is something that a lot of commercial sheep farms do. It is when you increase the feed and protein intake for the ram as well as for the ewes. The flushing usually occurs for the two weeks before breeding. The thought here is that a healthy ram with lots of vigor can keep up and get the job done. A fat healthy ewe will be more fertile. Personally I DO NOT flush. My sheep are fat. My ram only has the four to breed and keeping up with that small of a harem is no trouble. With three sets of triplets last season... I do not want more fertility.

* MARKING. Most sheep breeders mark the animals in some way to determine when or if the ewe has been bred. It helps keep records straight and keeps things more sane at lambing time. So far I have never marked, but this year I am planning on giving it a try. I have had several rams that I never saw breed a sheep. Having a mark would have been VERY helpful.

There are basically two methods. The first is relatively simple. It is the one I am going to try. You simply spray paint a big patch of livestock paint on the ewes butt right above her tail. When the ram mounts and breeds her it is smudged or even rubbed away. TSC and other feed stores sell the paint it looks like basic spray paint, but of course it is chalk and made to rub away.

Image

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The second marking method is a ram harness.

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It works on the same basic principle, when the ram mounts he marks the ewes butt. Just seeing the mark you know the ewe has been bred. This is a good method if you have several rams. You want to know which ram bred a ewe, so you could put a different color crayon on each ram.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

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Farmfresh
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Re: Getting Sheep Bred - Timing, Cycles and Success Stories

Unread post by Farmfresh » Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:16 am

Finally there is timing.

Most people put the ram in and start recording the marking. After the first round, when the ewes are all marked (or unmarked) indicating that they were bred, the group is worked up again. This is usually within about two weeks. The rams color crayon is changed out (usually for a darker color) or the ewes are all remarked with a different color paint. Then they all go back out. The rams are typically left with the ewes for 21 to 34 days at a minimum. And the shepherd watches. If a ewe was not bred on the first cycle or did not take, she will be rebred when she cycles again. Her mark will change or change colors and then notes can be made. Usually if she doesn't naturally breed in two cycles, she won't. She probably needs culled.

Commercial sheep folk usually take the rams out, but small flock folks typically leave the ram in at least until lambing time and some leave them in until lambs are weaned or even late summer before breeding season starts again.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

bittersweetbranch
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Re: Getting Sheep Bred - Timing, Cycles and Success Stories

Unread post by bittersweetbranch » Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:15 pm

Thank you, extremely helpful.

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Farmfresh
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Re: Getting Sheep Bred - Timing, Cycles and Success Stories

Unread post by Farmfresh » Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:42 pm

You are most welcome.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

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Farmfresh
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Re: Getting Sheep Bred - Timing, Cycles and Success Stories

Unread post by Farmfresh » Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:39 pm

My son in law the Blacksmith brought Moses back home for me yesterday. It rained last night and all afternoon. I finally got a picture and a short video tonight but it was almost dark.

Image

Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

bittersweetbranch
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Re: Getting Sheep Bred - Timing, Cycles and Success Stories

Unread post by bittersweetbranch » Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:32 pm

Will he beat up on your 2 younger rams to establish dominance if he can smell the females in heat?

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Farmfresh
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Re: Getting Sheep Bred - Timing, Cycles and Success Stories

Unread post by Farmfresh » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:55 pm

I doubt it. Moses is as cool as water. He has been fine for the last few days and I have the little boys on the adjoining fence. So far he seems interested in them, but calm.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

bittersweetbranch
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Re: Getting Sheep Bred - Timing, Cycles and Success Stories

Unread post by bittersweetbranch » Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:20 am

When are you going to put him with the ladies?

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Farmfresh
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Re: Getting Sheep Bred - Timing, Cycles and Success Stories

Unread post by Farmfresh » Wed Oct 09, 2019 9:16 am

I am thinking about putting him in around the first of November or at least the end of October. We shall see.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

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