Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Breeding Animals-It's as easy as......

Lady Bug- a 2 year old Alpine/Saanen doe

I had a friend who once bred English Angora rabbits-she bred them for years and never had one single baby born, and these were rabbits!  Sometimes reproduction is a little more complicated these days then just throwing together a male and a female (of course, if a male and a female get together that you DO NOT want to breed, then offspring will be produced 100% of the time!).

Dorper and Katahdin Sheep

Today as I walked through the sheep and goats, staring at filling udders to see how everyone is coming along, I was contemplating on how kidding and lambing might progress this year.
A little over 5 months ago, I put a young Dorper ram in with the sheep and a young Boer buck in with my dairy goat herd.  The emphasis here is on young.  I always mark my calendar with when the boys are put in and removed, when ewes and does are seen to be in heat and when I see actual breedings occur.  The less I am in the dark about when those babies might arrive, the better I like it.

The goat herd was mostly older girls and all of them were in heat the day I put the Boer buck in.   The younger girls had cycled a couple of times each but were not currently in.  The buck fell head over heels in love with a two year old who was definitely not in season and wanted nothing to do with him.  He followed her around for weeks while the older, larger does were in full blown heat.  I could have killed him-he was messing up my breeding schedule.

Meanwhile, my Nigerian buck, who knows how to get the job done in under 3 seconds flat, was about to tear all of my fences down trying to get to the big girls.  The older girls went out of heat and came back in.  Boer boy still seemed clueless.  I was despairing at him ever getting anyone bred when he finally seemed to start to get an idea about who was ready.  The end result, I believe, is that those does are going to be spread out all over the place.  As opposed to the Nigerians that I bred which will all kid within a day or two of one another.

2010 Katahdin & Dorper lambs

Last year I used a full Katahdin ram on my ewes and was not happy with his lambs, so this year found me with a new, young Dorper ram.  He went right to work scouting out the girls and was not intimidated even by my big Dorper ewes. Sheep, however, are not as prone to public displays of affection as are goats (mine at least). So, I marked down on the calendar which ever ewe he was interested in and the date, but never saw him breed a one.  The girls are out there waddling around, so he did his job, he just didn't want to be watched.  The flock is composed about half of older ewes and the other half are first timers, so it will be interesting to see how they are spread out.  So far, all of the older girls look ready to go within a couple of weeks, with one Dorper ewe being so wide and deep as to be frightening me a little bit.  She looks to be having a whole litter!  Oh well, there is colostrum in the freezer and milk replacer in the feed room-stay tuned!
Red, a Katahdin/Dorper ewe and her 2010 ewe lamb, Emma


  1. I am enjoying reading your posts! We so much enjoyed visiting the farm a few months ago with my grandmother. You were so gracious and the kids loved it!

  2. Hey LeeAnn-I am glad that you enjoy my ramblings-I like sharing the animals and the farm. A few people shared their places with me along the way!

  3. I had no idea male sheep were shy. Kinda cool to learn. I know how randy our goat bucks are; they are not shy in the least. Sometimes, our Pices and Almond are kinda of scarey when they are on a mission.

    Nice to meet ya,