So far, I have one book on sheep husbandry, “Raising Sheep the Modern Way” by Paula Simmons. The women who sold me sheep to me agreed it was a good book. It advises “flushing” ewes before breeding, which is a method of giving them ever-increasing amounts of grain the 17 days prior to when you expose them to the ram. Research has shown this makes them more likely to drop two eggs and give multiple births.
But, when I’ve asked around, I’ve learned a lot of people don’t bother with this and still get multiple births. And one lady I met who does do flushing often gets singleton lambs. So, I’ve waffled on whether or not to do it.
The nice lady at the feed store co-op had me talked out of it, as she’s one of the ones who has luck without it. But, then I started thinking it would be nice to grain-train the ewes, for moments when I don’t want to use a dog to get the sheep to follow me. And, poor Hershey the ram is stuck in his pen, eating hay, for another week and a half. So, I bought some grain.
It turns out Hershey is already grain-trained and will follow me anywhere for it and eat out of my hand. The ewes know what a shaking bucket sound means, but they won’t come. They wait until I’ve left the bucket and am long gone. So, though I think I’d like to flush them, I have no way to control how much each one of them gets.
So, I’ve settled for leaving a little bit of grain out in six small buckets by the ram pen. And, feeding Hershey out of my hand so that he stays acting like a good boy.
2 thoughts on “Flushing Ewes”
We are a strictly grassfed farm, but have found the grain training is essential, when we need to catch errant livestock. We have problems with equestrians and other property “enjoyers” (trespassers) leaving our gates open. Everyone knows what the sound of grain can means and will about face even if headed in the other direction.
I can see it’s working already, the “ladies” are starting to come closer in anticipation for their grain. I even got them to line up today and each eat out of their own buckets. So, I’ll keep working on it! Thanks for the input!