It is the ram's favorite time of year at Whinmont Farm: Breeding Season.
This is Erik our ram. He is a Suffolk ram with a mild disposition who loves to have his ears rubbed. He has eagerly been awaiting mid-October.
Sheep are short day breeders. Which means the ewes will come into heat as the daylight gets shorter each day. We choose to breed our sheep later in the fall than most farmers. The majority of farms will turn their rams out with the ewes in August or September. This would result in January or February lambs. I am not a fan of lambing in the middle of winter and this leads us to turning our ram out in the middle of October.
The ewes have been very interested in Erik recently as some have already come into heat. There is a lot of longing stares between the two pens.
In order to track breeding we need to put a breeding vest on Erik; which means we need to catch him.
Given the size and potential dangers of having a ram we don't get in the pen too much with Erik, making it slightly difficult to catch him.
The is the breeding vest. The orange is "chalk", and will mark the backs of the ewes when they are bred. We can then check daily for breeding by seeing who has a freshly marked back. This allows us to know the 4-5 day lambing window this spring, then prepare for the lamb and not be surprised when one is born.
Putting the vest on Erik.
This is Erik's second breeding season. Once he saw his vest he realized what was happening, he calmed right down and allowed us to quickly work with him.
After Erik had on his vest we needed to rearrange some of the ewes. Removing the ones too young to breed and Erik's direct daughters from the main breeding group. He grew impatient as we worked.
And then he became VERY impatient. This is not typical behavior from him. He was bawling and jumping around; he had his vest on darn it, he wanted in with the ladies!
The last step was to change the gates to the pastures. This is our back pasture. We have been letting it rest for the late summer to allow good growth for the fall. The ewes and Erik will be out here for breeding season munching on the last fresh grass before winter comes.
What a beautiful night for a group date.
Lambs conceived around this time will be born in mid-March.
The seaman tells stories of winds, the ploughman of