Tuesday, January 8, 2008

If At First You Don't Succeed...

Originally I was going to wait until the end of this month before putting Perry back in with the ewes. But I looked at the calendar again and realized that had they been pregnant they would have had to have had their babies by the end of December.

So I got the ram marker out, mixed it up, dabbed it on Perry's chest, and let him loose with the ewes. It seems that within ten minutes he had mounted both Jamie and Ewenice. By the end of the following day 3of4 had a big green spotch on her too.

I found the courtship process to be very interesting. It was so obvious that Jamie and Ewenice were high in heat and ready to rock and roll. Perry would pay close attention to one, sniffing and curling his lip. Then positioning himself just so towards the ewes' back end. Then he'd strike out with a stiff front leg. When the ewe didn't move he'd mount her. When he paid too much attention to one ewe, the other ewe would insinuate herself between the two, forcing Perry to turn his ministrations to her. At one point Jamie even mounted Perry. I've seen cows do that when they were ready to breed, but I didn't know sheep did it too.

When rabbits breed the male rapid fire hunches the female and suddenly stiffens when ejaculating, then kind of falls off to the side. (I always found that to be highly amusing.) When a stallion ejaculates he sort of slumps on the mare and the tell tale sign is his "flagging tail". I don't know if there is any specific sign for when the ram ejaculates. Maybe I didn't watch long enough. Perry would mount Jamie for a second and slide off, and Ewenice would start walking slowly along. I'll have to trust that he'll get the job done one way or the other.

In hindsight I think what happened last year was that I didn't wait long enough between weaning and rebreeding. With proper management Dorsets are well known to be able to have three lambings every year and a half. Obviously I didn't manage that too well.

I only had enough green marker for one application so I have more ordered. The color is supposed to be changed every 16 days. Last year I didn't let him stay with the ewes too long because #1: I thought they had been marked; and #2: Perry was "ramming" the ewes too hard. This time around I'm going to make a few changes.

Perry has again been showing his dominance a little too much for my liking towards Baby and Francine so I also ordered a "ram shield", a mask that will not allow him to see forwards, hence be unable to ram the ewes. I'll be able to leave him with the ewes longer, and I'll be more diligent about having changing the colors every 16 days.

Sadly that means no sheep milk cheese until the middle of summer, and even worse, no sheep milk yogurt, my favorite!


Anonymous said...

Farm life is so interesting!

Patience - the wait for both sheep milk cheese and, better yet, sheep milk yogurt will make them taste all the better!

Love You,


pam said...

Your three sheep picture looks like my three horse one! Cool!!! Thanks for stopping in, looking forward to exploring your blog a little now. Hope you will be back to ours. I agree about the 800 entries. I wouldn't want that anyhow. I'm small time stuff compared to PW!

Just a Walk in the Park said...

What is amazing is that I was also very concerned about how this mating actually occurs and the dynamics of it with our goats.

We drink fresh goat milk but have not ever had sheep milk cheese or yogurt. Is it an acquired taste or yummy from the start.

I saw you cam by site and then on to mappersnapper. Thanks for coming by my blog and I will be back to yours.

tina f. said...

Pam- Thanks for your comparison, not that there really is any. I adore your horse picture and in fact have a Fred Stone print of "The Power Horses", my favorite, which reminded me a lot of your photo.

JAWITP-My sister is actually the one that makes the cheese and yogurt from the sheep milk, which I collect for her from my sheep. The yogurt is so naturally sweet it doesn't need sweeteners. I've heard that goat milk can be...well...goaty, so we decided to try milking the sheep and we aren't sorry at all. (I invested in an "udderly EZ" milker--way easier than milking the sheep by hand!)

Glad I found you all and I'll be back to visit you again too!

pam said...

Check your email if you haven't already, YOU WON! The Boy loved your entry the most, stop by the site too to see and read more!