[Jacob-list] some ideas?
perfectspot at bellsouth.net
Tue Apr 14 21:36:15 EDT 2009
Some of you know that we have a ewe here (still) that is now approaching
her mid-20's. Yakob-Tson Lady Jane was bred by Edd Bissell in the
mid-1980's and we actually have a photo of her as a young ewe (about 2
years of age) taken in 1986-87. We have owned her since late 1998, and
at that time she was already an "old" ewe, entering her teens. She was
supposedly retired at that point, but she had lambs for us each year
until 2002, after which we retired her. Her 2002 daughter remains here,
as does a granddaughter and this year a great-granddaughter was born!
In the past few years, Jane has become much thinner, more arthritic,
more frail, and has lost some teeth. Her fleece is isn't much any
more. She still handles a grain mix fairly well as long as there is no
whole corn in it, but can no longer compete at the feeding troughs with
the others, as she eats much slower now. We let her into the barn each
evening before the others are fed. She is always standing there
waiting for the gate to open so that she can go to the head of the
line! We keep a bale of compressed alfalfa on hand now (mostly just for
her) and when she finishes her grain, she moves over and grazes from the
alfalfa block for as long as it takes to feed and water the remainder of
the sheep. Each winter or summer we wonder if she will make it through
the seasonal extremes; each spring the shearer is amazed to find her
still here! Each year he has us take a photo of her and then he
features her in some of his sheep talks throughout the year as the
oldest sheep he has seen and sheared!
We think she still enjoys life and we still marvel at her strength and
fortitude. She still enjoys basking in the sun, lying with the lambs
and late last fall there were at least 3 separate instances where she
spent most of the day flirting with the rams across the fence!
One day we will have to let her go but she hasn't told us that it is
Perfect Spot Farm
> The way we feel now is that it is important not to let the sheep get
> too thin and to lose their interest in life before you take the
> decision. The ones we have sent for slaughter were all full of beans
> and skipping around the place, even the oldest at 13. Without the
> burden of annual lambing they can maintain themselves in good
> condition for quite some time with no front teeth at all.
> On the other hand it would be a shame to kill off your good ewes just
> because they have reached a certain age. For a long-lived breed, we
> should be breeding from older ewes who have kept their teeth,
> condition and conformation. We have just had a healthy ewe lamb
> tonight from a 14 year old ewe - she is a Hebridean, but the breed is
> very similar to the Jacob. She still has all her teeth and has been
> frisky and very excited throughout her pregnancy, and is now over the
> moon with her new daughter - who we shall keep and hope she is as
> long-lived as her dam.
> As responsible stock keepers we all know we have to take the difficult
> decisions along with the routine, and to take them with the welfare of
> the animals in mind. I think that once you begin to wonder if the
> time has come, then it probably has.
> Congrats to all on your lovely lambs
> Juliet in Scotland UK
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