HILLGROVE HAPPENINGS

An ongoing series of informative entries

The Lambs Have Arrived!

September 2021


This. month has been absolutely crazy!  The lambs have kept us so busy its been unbelievable but now they are all growing nicely its good to sit back and reflect on what went well and what went wrong.


We were very fortunate to be able to use the neighbours old shearing shed and yards for half the mob.  We took all the 2018 ewes to the shearing shed in a few trailer trips and they settled in well.  Within two days of arriving they started to lamb and once they had a lamb or two or three, they were moved into a small pen in the shed.  At night time all the ewes were moved into the shed and the next morning those who were still to lamb were moved outside.  This meant that all the lambs were under cover for the first few days which gave them the protection they needed. 

 

Chris even stayed the night with the ewes in a camp bed and was quite warm and cosy.  Being on hand meant he was able to assist any ewe who had trouble lambing during the night, as happened on a couple of occasions.


The saddest thing that happened was one ewe lost both her twins and we really don't know why.  The twins were doing well and then they just died but these things do happen.


The rest of the ewes, which were the thirteen dorper recipient ewes, the 2016 ewes and the maiden 2019 ewes were kept at home and I stayed at home with them, getting up a few times during the night to check on them.  They were all in the shed or in pens in the sheep yards at night time, depending if they had lambs or not.  It was very hectic because of the number of ewes and the number of ewes who had twins and triplets.  


If a ewe had triplets she was always placed in a pen and closely monitored to ensure all the triplets were getting enough to drink.  Even doing this we still lost two triplets from one ewe because the stronger triplet was drinking all the milk.  We were very upset when we realised two of the triplets had died. 


As it happened, we ended up taking one triplet from each ewe and bottle feeding them because most of the ewes simply didn't have enough milk for three lambs.  


Our dorper recipient ewes did really well and all. lambed with no problem, except for one ewe who was the first to lamb and so the sheep had not yet been moved to the yards from their paddock. I found the lamb very early one cold and frosty morning and the lamb was almost dead from the cold and not getting a drink. She was tiny, possibly premature, and I raced her home and wrapped her up in blankets and laid her in front of the fire and for the next three hours rubbed glucose powder on her gums and in her mouth to prevent brain damage as she warmed up.  When she woke up she was very weak, but no brain damage which was a huge relief.  She was too weak to suck from a bottle so I tubed fed her twice, and once she had the milk in her belly, she quickly became stronger and we took her back to her. mum.  Unfortunately her mother, due to the time she was away from her lamb, decided that she didn't want her and refused to let her suck.  We milked the ewe to get colostrum and ended up keeping the lamb to be raised as a poddy here at home.


The other lambs from the dorpers are doing amazingly well and are big and strong because dorpers have huge bags of milk and it shows in the growth rate of the lambs.


We had four lambs born with knuckling this year, the first time it has happened.  This is where their front legs are bent and they can't walk properly and is usually caused by crowding in the womb.  Three of the four lambs were triplets and after about a week all straightened up and they are now fine.  The fourth lamb was a single lamb and we don't know why he was born with knuckling.  He was the worst and we used icypole sticks and bandage and put these on his front legs and checked them each day.  After about two weeks we removed them and he is now fine and walking very well.  


We ended up with 12 poddy lambs which we are feeding here at home.  Its a lot of work to feed them three times per day but with constant care, they are doing well.  I feed them sour milk which is milk with yoghurt mixed in it and then placed in an esky with a hot water bottle and three heated huge wheat packs and left overnight.  The bacteria will then multiply and really helps to prevent abomasal bloat which will quickly kill a lamb.


Now the ewes and their lambs are in an oat crop which we sowed especially for them back in the Autumn.  We keep them there as the other paddocks are full of barley grass. which once it seeds, easily gets in their eyes and can cause them to become blind.  The ewes and lambs are doing very well in the oat crop and are checked every day, sometimes twice.  



Getting Ready for Lambing

August 2021


Lambing time is almost upon us once again. Its the busiest time of year for us and a fair bit of preparation needs to happen beforehand.  Babydoll lambs really feel the cold at birth and need to be kept warm, preferably under some sort of shelter.  We are fortunate to have a big shed near the sheep yards, and a roof over part of the sheep yards itself.  We  also have another area near the sheep yards with what we call our 'hospital,' which is simply an old rice soaking bin tipped upside down and four small pens created inside.  By using old big bales of straw placed strategically around we can link all three areas.  Because this year we have more ewes than previously we have also lined up the neighbours old shearing shed which connects to his sheep yards.  The old shearing shed needs a bit of work to fix it up so its more weather proof, but it does have individual pens where we can place ewes with their lambs.  We will take about a quarter of the mob of Babydoll ewes to the shearing shed a few days before they are due to lamb and then constantly check on them to ensure they are settling down.


Yesterday we put all the Babydolls in the sheep yards and we used an animal spray marker to spray the number of each ewe on her backside, so that it can be clearly seen from a distance.  This is very helpful when the lamb is born as we can easily and correctly record which lamb belong to which ewe and if the lamb gets mismothered for any reason, we can easily match them up again.


Our ewes will reach 150 days in lamb at the end of August., so we assume the lambs will arrive any time from 140 days onwards.  We are currently checking the ewes twice per day in case any ewe becomes stuck on her back (called 'cast'). If they do become cast they can't get up and so die.  Yesterday morning I found an old retired Babydoll named Henrietta, cast but luckily I found her in time so simply rolled her over and she was fine.  




Shearing

July 202​1


On Tuesday we had all the Babydoll rams, ram lambs and ewe lambs shorn and the Babydoll ewes wigged and crutched.  Wigging is shearing the wool from the sheep's faces to prevent them from getting grass seeds or bits of hay in their eyes.  We do this because our Babydolls are extremely prone to things in their eyes due to them having flatter faces then other breeds of sheep.  Crutching is taking the wool off around the sheep back end, so the risk of fly strike it reduced.  However the real reason we crutched the ewes was because they are pregnant and its much easier trying to help them if they are in trouble with lambing if there little wool in this area.  We didn't want to shear the ewes as we didn't want them to be stressed and go down with pregnancy toxaemia.


The shearer from near Echuca did a great job and it took him most of the day to shear the sheep.  However we did have a few hiccups beforehand. The sheep are shorn in our neighbour, Lindsay's, shearing shed and we brought all the Babydolls to our sheep yards two days beforehand and the day before shearing we put them in a trailer and took them to the shearing shed.  The trailer only fits 20 sheep so we took them over in batches.  This does take time.  The sheep need to be in the shed the day before shearing as they must be dry to be shorn. Shearers can't shear wet sheep, even if they are slightly damp.  


I had organised a shearer to come  from Seymour in Victoria which is a considerable distance from us.  I have known him for many years.  That same evening the Victorian Government changed the COVID rules which meant that my shearer could no longer come.  Oh dear.  


Another neighbour of ours, Andrea,  very kindly offered to contact her shearer, who was available the following Tuesday.  It meant that the sheep would be in the shed for three days but Lindsay kindly lent us a small paddock for our ewes and ewe lambs and the rams and ram lambs stayed in the neighbours sheep yards where we fed them plenty of hay.  So it all turned out well with the shearer arriving as organised on Tuesday and the sheep being back here in their own paddocks by late afternoon.


It has been cold here though with a couple of heavy frosts but the Babydolls are all ok and I feed them pellets each morning to ensure they have enough food to warm them up.


We will get the ewes shorn later on this year, once their lambs are born and a bit older.  


Pregnancy Scanning

June 2021

On Thursday we had our Babydoll ewes pregnancy scanned and the results are absolutely fantastic!  All our ewes, with the exception of two, are pregnant, with the majority carrying twins and three sets of triplets on the way.  We can't believe these results.  Thirteen of fifteen Dorper recepient ewes, carrying frozen Babydoll embryos left over from last year's program, are also pregnant. This is really a marvellous result as using frozen embryos is not always as successful as this.   


Thanks to Murray River Genetics at Moama for coming over to scan the ewes.


I noticed this morning one ram lamb has a sore eye so I managed to catch him to see if he had a grass seed or a bit of hay in his eye, but couldn't see anything.  I will look again tomorrow as he could have poked his eye on some hay..


Another thing I noticed when I was watching the ewes was a ewe walking around with her twin ewe lambs born last year.  These lambs were weaned way back in February and they have been separated since then but obviously the lambs still know their mum!  I noticed another couple of ewes walking around with a lamb or two as well which made me think they obviously don't forget.


Weights are in!

May 2021

Yesterday we weighed all our Hillgrove Babydolls. The ewes' average weight was 45.1kgs (range was from 62kgs to 24.4kgs) and the rams' average was 75.1kg (range was from 55.5kgs to 88kgs). This is handy information to have when working out dosages for drenches etc. 


Our ewes have now returned to a single paddock after being placed in small groups with a ram for the past eight weeks. We have put all the ewes and last year's ewe lambs altogether because with a lack of rain over the Autumn, we are finding feed is getting very short in all our paddocks. By placing all the ewes and ewe lambs together it makes it easier to ensure they have adequate hay available at all times.


Our stud rams spent a night in a small pen in the sheep yards after they were removed from the ewes so they could become used to each other again. They needed to work out their pecking order again and by placing them in a small pen, they can't get run-ups to head butt or fight each other. At first there was a degree of tension between the them but they soon settled down and are now back in their paddock being fed pellets each day as well as having free access to hay.


The ram lambs are coming on and are growing nicely. We are always concerned about heights of individual rams lambs and tell them each day not to grow too tall!


Last week we found one ram lamb with pneumonia which is an emergency. With antibiotics he came good and is now doing well.


Fy strike!  I hate it.  I found two ewe lambs with dirty rear ends and when caught found both were struck.  We cleaned them up and administrated fly strike powder and all is well.  



Welcome, Its our birthday!!

May 2021

Welcome to our blog!  We thought a Blog would be a good way to pass on information on the daily or weekly happenings of the Hillgrove mob.  


We have developed a new logo and web page to celebrate our Hillgrove stud being 100 years old this year.  

Happy birthday to us!  

🎂🎂🎂🎂🎂🎂🎂🎂🎂

It's a wonderful achievement and privilege to be able to manage a historic stud and we hope the Hillgrove stud will continue on for yet another 100 years.