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Are These Sheep Pregnant or Nah?

On December 27, 2019 we scanned all 70 ewes with ultrasound to see who was and was not pregnant! It was so exciting and interesting and we learned A LOT. These ewes are due to start lambing February 20th, which is almost a month a way!

With the help of Levi’s brother, Luke, who happens to be a vet (how handy for us! Thanks, Luke!) we were able to scan our sheep and know exactly who is and is not pregnant. It’s important for us to know who is and isn’t pregnant because starting in a couple weeks we’ll be feeding the pregnant ewes a very high energy diet to help them grow their lambs in the last trimester of gestation.

When we made the big jump to 90 sheep in May of 2019 we knew that we needed a handling system to help us be more efficient and save our bodies from a lot of stress. We bought a DS Sheep System and although we are still working out some kinks we are thankful for how smoothly we’re able to get our jobs done. For this job, David ran the tub and drop gate to get the sheep into position for the chute. Levi ran the head chute so that each ewe was held relatively still for her scan and vaccine. Luke, of course was scanning with the ultrasound machine and his wife, Mary Beth, was giving the CL vaccine.

Of the 70 ewes we scanned, 67 were confirmed pregnant. The further we got through the flock the more comfortable Luke was to tell which ewes were carrying single lambs and which were carrying multiple. We started marking those with multiple lambs with two green dots and those with singles got a green line. The three ewes that weren’t bred were painted with an orange line and after looking back at our notes from the year, all three of these ewes had a lamb in the late spring of 2019 and raised it.

Side Note: When ewes raise one or multiple lambs to weaning age (about 60 days) this takes a lot out of them. Just like a human, their bodies are using so much energy to provide high quality milk for the lamb while also maintaining their own body. It tends to ‘pull down’ the ewe meaning she loses a lot of her excess fat stores and drops in body condition score. To rebreed and carry another lamb in her next pregnancy, she needs to build up those fat stores again. So we’re not surprised at all that those three were not rebred this go around.

This is also an ‘in season breeding’ so we expected our conception rate to be high. Sheep are traditionally seasonal breeders meaning they are most likely to become pregnant in the fall and have lambs born in late winter/early spring. However, some breeds of sheep are able to breed year-round and our Katahdin/Dorper hair sheep fall into this category.

While we were scanning, we also took the time and vaccinated for Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) which is a disease that causes inflammation in the lymph nodes of sheep and goats. We have CL in our flock already and so far it has not seemed to cause any major problems for us but Luke is interested to see if vaccinating for CL will impact our sheep that already have it. We’ll update you when we know more!

If we've not said it before, we're saying it now we love when we get to work with our family. 98% of the time, we have are laughing and joking while we get work done and make tons of memories. One of the things I'm finding with our new YouTube adventure is that I'm capturing all the little things about how we work together and the everyday tasks we do together as a family that we would have never thought to capture before. When we look back on them many years from now, I think we'll smile and laugh again at all the fun we're having.

Stay tuned for new videos and blogs each week. Once lambing starts we’ll be sharing all kinds of ‘lamb spam’ also known as super cute videos and pictures of lambs!

Thanks for reading more about our first scan! If you missed the video you can catch it HERE. Don’t forget to hit the red subscribe button so you don’t miss the next video.

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