The lambing cycle starts back in the autumn when we put the appropriate rams (or ‘tups’) in with the ewes. We leave them in for 3 cycles, changing the raddle colour every 17 days. In the past around Christmas time we have got the ewes scanned, to see which ones are actually in lamb. Then we bring the ewes into the barn about 3 weeks before they are due to start lambing. This is to get them used to a change in diet, so we can monitor their progress, and look for any signs of abnormalities as the lamb develops within them.
Lambing then starts in our flock approximately 144 days after the rams go in!
A heavily-pregnant Dorset Down ewe Dorset Down ewe and newborn lamb
The lambs are regularly weighed every 2-3 weeks to monitor their growth, and we do a faecal egg count every week in-house to monitor their internal parasites, such as coccidiosis and worms. By doing this we can keep the use of chemicals to an absolute minimum while achieving maximum growth rates from the lambs.
Our average lambing rates are usually between 1.45 and 1.50 reared lambs per ewe. This is about average for the Dorset breeds, but considerably lower than the commercial crossbreds, which often average nearer 2 lambs per ewe. For our full flock statistics please see the individual breed pages.