Monday, February 14, 2011

Lippitt Farmstead in Winter: Sheep

By: Marieanne Coursen, Agricultural Interpreter
Our ewes have been entertaining a guest this winter. He arrived on December 4th.

He is a handsome Border Cheviot ram from Millers Cheviot Acres in New Berlin, New York.

During the breeding season, ewes come into heat approximately every 17 days. They will be in heat (in other words, receptive to the ram) for 24 to 36 hours. We are keeping the ram here until February 1st to allow ample opportunity for him to catch each of the ewes in heat and breed them.

Three of our ewes are exposed to the ram.  Daisy is a Border Cheviot, so any lambs she has will be pure Border Cheviot:
The other two, Ollie and Dancin’, are Southdowns so their lambs will be Cheviot/Southdown crosses:
Some shoot for the Easter market, so they want their lambs born in January and February to reach market weight by Easter.  These lambs are called hothouse lambs.  Other shepherds are more interested in taking advantage of lush pasture in summer, so they want lambs born in spring to sell as feeder or market lambs in the fall.  Our goal as a living history museum is to have our lambs born at a time appropriate to the 1800s, but also to share this precious time with our visitors.  Given the above information and the fact that gestation is 150 days you may want to plan a spring visit with us during lambing time – I’ll let you do the math.

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