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Optimal Livestock Services and the pregnant ewes

Geri Parsons, Optimal Livestock Services

Geri Parsons, Optimal Livestock Services

Pregnancy testing is one of the veterinary services offered by Optimal Livestock Services–Dr. Cleon Kimberling, veterinarian, and Geri Parsons, vet technician, proprietors.  We ask them to pregnancy test our ewes who are expecting white-faced lambs.  When we know which ewes are carrying twins, we can manage them separately so that they can get extra nutrition and care.  At lambing time, we can make sure they have better shelter because the white-faced lambs are more vulnerable at birth than the cross-bred lambs which have black-faced Hampshire fathers.  You old ag majors remember the lessons about “highbred vigor” which results when different types of sheep, or cows or whatever, are mixed.  The purebreds are less hardy, but they are the lambs which grow into our replacement ewes (or at least the females do).  We need both.

Geri recently showed up to check our ewes, who currently reside on the Red Desert, north of Wamsutter, Wyoming.

Meghan and Pepe bringing in the ewes

Salomon, Meghan, Pepe and Eamon bringing in the ewes

Pepe and Maeve, at work

Pepe and Maeve, at work

Siobhan and Sadie, corral help

Siobhan and Sadie, corral help

Eamon and Tweed, bringing up the ewes

Eamon and Tweed, lending encouragement

preg testing crew:  Richar, Salomon, Pepe, Eamon Geri and Meghan (and Sharon behind the camera!)

preg testing crew: Richar, Salomon, Pepe, Eamon Geri and Meghan (and Sharon behind the camera!)

 

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Sheep camp supplies

Richar, ready to unload hay

Richar, ready to unload hay

As the year grows ever shorter, and the days wax with the passage of the winter solstice, the sheep are on their wintering grounds.  Three bands are north of I80, where the ewes are keeping company with the bucks.  This brings the promise of spring lambs, and gives particular meaning to the phrase “animal husbandry”.

The sheep are under the constant care of our Peruvian sheepherders, who make sure that they have fresh pasture (grasses left over from the summer), water, protection from the constant predators, and that they remain within the allotment boundaries set by the Bureau of Land Management.

Border collies on the Red Desert

Border collies on the Red Desert

We have been blessed, finally, with winter snow, which solves the water problem.  We have mortgaged our future in order to buy corn to keep the sheep strong during the breeding season, and for the cold weather, present and future.  As my Dad always said, “You can’t starve production out of an animal”–(not that I can imagine why one would consider it).

Today, Pat, McCoy (2) and I took supplies out the the sheepherders, and to Richar, the camptender who is responsible for feeding corn each day and making sure the herders have all they need.  We took hay, firewood, coal, dog food, groceries, mail and new calenders.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Animals, Folks, Peruvian sheepherders, Sheep

 

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Richar and the Halloween kids

Ready for trick or treating:
Richar with Seamus, the Army guy; Maeve, the fairy princess; Tiarnan, the Holstein bull calf; and Siobhan AKA Hermoine (McCoy was a horse, but wouldn’t leave his costume on, and Rhen went as a baby)

 
 

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Transitions

Transitions

October is a month which starts with glorious colors as the leaves drop their summer green and segue into the yellows, reds and browns of a brief, glorious orgy.  Now, as the month winds its way down toward Halloween, tans and greys prevail, as the trees stand bare and the fields lay fallow.  In the last couple of days, we have had wet welcome snow.  The growing season is long past, but after this record dry year, moisture is a miracle, and we hope a portent of things to come.

It is also a season of endings.  After the burst of life that comes forth with the births of new lambs and calves, it is now shipping time.  The lambs are being loaded onto trucks, destined for the feedlot in South Dakota, and the calves have been sold.  Both will be fed until they are the right size to be slaughtered for food.  We have also retained ewe lambs, which will become our replacement ewes next year, and sold replacement heifer calves, which will become someone’s cows. We also have replacement heifer calves, destined to become our future cows.  Soon, all this season’s babies will be gone, or at least weaned, and we will go into our winter season with the animals who stay.

lambs in front f the cow barn

Pepe at the sorting chute

lambs

Edgar and Richar pushing the short term ewes up. They go to Iowa.

Edgar, Meghan, Filomeno and Richar at the loading chute

Filomeno working the chute

Meghan risking all to load the truck

Tiarnan and Pepe greet Maria

Cows, watching the calves being loaded

calves, bound for the feedlot

Ned inspecting the sold replacement heifers

heifer loading crew: Meghan, Dan, Gaylon, Eamon, Ned, Marley

Abby is hitching a ride toward Massachusetts on Dan’s truck

 

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Dock them lambs, tote them panels!

Ladder Ranch docking crew

Once the lambs are on the ground, it is time to think about docking them.  This means that each bunch is gathered into a large pen.  The lambs are dropped into a smaller pen, then are passed along an assembly line, where they are earmarked, the males are castrated and they are placed into the Dinkum Docker, a sort of slide.  There they are vaccinated, their tails are removed with a hot knife (which cauterizes the wound), daubed with pine tar (which disinfects and keeps the flys away) and daubed with a paint brand.  Soon they are looking for Mom, who is also looking for them.

Looking for Mom

Evaristo and Cesar putting lambs into the lamb pen

Meghan on the Dinkum Docker

Eamon is running the hot tailer. Meghan is holding legs and putting pine tar on the wounds.

Timeteo and Salomon carrying lambs

David (in blue shirt) brought lunch to a hungry crew

Modesto, Siobhan and Bahnay taking a break

Mothering up

Teofilo loading panels, getting ready for tomorrow

The bum lambs are headed for the Home Ranch

 

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