Pasture Pigs (or Hogs)

The American Guinea Hogs were picked up in the middle of a cold spell so they were situated in a dog kennel in the barn initially to keep them warm and dry. However, the weather has done a complete shift, with days in the 70s and the hogs were growing so it was time to move them out to their permanent home – the pasture.

They needed a secure night pen first so I ordered some hog panels cut in half. I couldn’t find an appropriately sized water trough locally so the pigs have a temporary trough that requires them to stand on their hind legs to drink. A new water trough is on order. I intended to move them to pasture on Saturday but was able to get help on Friday evening so quickly threw up the night pen and filled the trough.

Then the fun . . . how to move two hogs. Hogs (pigs) don’t have necks to speak of so using a rope was pretty much out. While we did try a couple of times, it soon became apparent that even the tightest tied rope would slide right off a fast moving hog. We tried enticing with a grain bucket but they weren’t falling for that trick. I had a dog on a leash as a back up but needed to get them out of the barn first. Finally we caught the smallest and I picked it up by the front and back feet, basically suspending it as for a barbecue but without the pole. I had thought that we would need to move the largest (Hamlock) since the littler one (Ham-let) was more likely to follow him, but as it turned out once Ham-let started squealing, Hamlock became upset and started trotting along behind. If he got distracted and started to veer off, a friend would simply bring Tuck up a little closer and my friend (who was now holding both back feet while I had the front feet – the little sucker was heavy) and I would just slightly shake Ham-let to make him squeal and Hamlock would come running up.

Unfortunately no photos since my hands were full, but after the initial abortive attempts to get them out of the barn, it was surprisingly easy to get them out to the pasture.

So here they are right after being re-penned in the pasture.

Hamlock checking out the doghouse stuffed with hay

Hamlock checking out the doghouse stuffed with hay

The next morning I fed them in the pen before opening the gate and letting them out into the pasture.

First breakfast in new digs

First breakfast in new digs

I needed to do some more renovations on their night pen so got busy -- the person I bought them from told me that they wouldn't push on fences if they couldn't see through them so, taking him at his word, I put cardboard between the hog panel and the fence posts to block their view (and the winds, etc.)

I needed to do some more renovations on their night pen so got busy — the person I bought them from told me that they wouldn’t push on fences if they couldn’t see through them so, taking him at his word, I put cardboard between the hog panel and the fence posts to block their view (and the winds, etc.)

I put a tarp up over one end of the pen so they have a nice shady spot right next to the water trough to keep cool.

I put a tarp up over one end of the pen so they have a nice shady spot right next to the water trough to keep cool.

Hard to see but Ham-let is squeezed in next to Hamlock.

Hard to see but Ham-let is squeezed in next to Hamlock.

They weren't really anxious to get out to see the world. Hamlock, being the larger, is also the boldest. But eventually Ham-let did leave the pen to join his half-brother.

They weren’t really anxious to get out to see the world. Hamlock, being the larger, is also the boldest. But eventually Ham-let did leave the pen to join his half-brother.

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Lamb Update

One of the three remaining ewes lambed on the 17th and gave me twins (both ram lambs), bringing my total up to twenty lambs – ten female/ten male.

Since the highest guess on the contest was 19, I had a friend (who did not participate in the contest) do the random draw and the winner of the contest has been notified.

All twenty of the lambs have now been ear tagged and wethered (if male). Here are some random photos.

Lambs eating hay

Lambs eating hay

One of the newly banded ram lambs with friend

One of the newly banded ram lambs with friend

One of the triplets with friend

One of the triplets with friend

Eighteen and counting

I thought one of the ewes was in labor Saturday but no lambs. Sunday she was again showing signs of being in labor but again no lambs. I worried all day Monday about her, especially given the size the lambs have been so far this year but when I got home, again no lambs. Early this afternoon, however, she finally decided she had had enough and I went out to find her cleaning off a lamb. The lamb looked much smaller than any of the other lambs but it seemed fine – up and trying to nurse while the ewe was alternating cleaning it off and pawing and circling, signs of another lamb to come. In short order, a second lamb was produced and I went in to let the ewe clean off both lambs before I weighed and dipped cords. When I went back out, the ewe was still exhibiting behaviors I associate with lambing. While I was observing her, she circled around and I saw two hooves – but back hooves and not front ones. I applied gentle traction and a third lamb slid out into my hands. I let the ewe clean off the third lamb while I weighed and dipped cords on the first two. Lamb one was an 8 lb ewe lamb and the second, also a ewe lamb, weighed 9 lbs. Lamb three was three for three, but 10 lbs.

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In keeping with this year’s tradition of color, lamb 2 has two small black spots on her neck/shoulder and a small black patch on her left eye and larger black patch on her right eye.20160216_134801-1_resized

So while I was weighing lambs, another ewe delivered a lamb. After a delay, she also had a lamb present backwards. Her lambs were both ram lambs, weighing 10.5 and 10 lbs.

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All but three ewes have now lambed with 18 lambs on the ground. Ten ewe lambs and eight ram lambs.

Brown is the new fashion

The ewe that lambed yesterday is brown so her producing brown lambs or lambs with some color is not unexpected. However, I am amazed at the number of lambs this year that are either brown, tan or have color on their legs.

Yesterday’s lambs were ten pounds each and two little ewe lambs. Here is one shortly after birth.

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Seven down and five left to lamb

More than half of my ewes have now lambed. The first ewe had a single male (here she is with her two week old lamb).

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The next ewe had twins (one male / one female)
Ewe three had twins (one male / one female)
Ewe four had twins (one male / one female)
Ewe five had twins (two females)
Ewe six had twins (two males)
Ewe seven just lambed this morning and had twin ewe lambs – both a pretty brown. Those lamb photos will be posted shortly.

Currently tally is 13 lambs – six males and seven females. Assuming that the remaining five ewes are indeed pregnant and not just fat, there is a chance I’ll have 20 plus lambs this year which will be welcome after only 8 lambs last year.

Moving right along

Yesterday afternoon when I went out to check on the new mom and her twins, I found another ewe on the ground groaning and stretching out her neck. Since my ewes generally just pop out the lambs without any fuss, this concerned me greatly. As I let myself into the sheep pen to check on her, she heaved herself up and out came a lamb. This ewe was large enough that I was sure she was carrying twins so I waited for the second lamb . . . and waited . . . and waited. I did some chores while keeping an eye on the ewe, hoping I wouldn’t need to intervene. The ewe was up and cleaning off her lamb with no signs of a second lamb. She’d occasionally paw the ground and circle – both signs of delivering – but then go back to cleaning off her lamb. I was getting ready to go into the house and grab my lambing supplies when she finally laid down and delivered a second lamb. I let her clean both off before I weighed and dipped cords, but when I finally weighed both lambs I understood why she seemed to be having more problems than usual. Lamb number one was a 13 lb male and two was a 12 lb male.

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Here they both are a day later (today). The largest is tan. I’ve had more color show up in this year’s lambs which is interesting because the ram was white.

Lambs 8 and 9

After two ewes lambed a couple of days early I thought I was off to a good start this lambing season. Ewes three and four lambed right on schedule and then. . . . a week went by without another lamb. Just as I was starting to think that 2016 would be an even worse year than 2015 with regards to lambs, yesterday morning I went out to feed and found a ewe cleaning off two lambs.

Here she is with the lambs a day later. Both are ewe lambs.

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The Gang of Seven

Last week the seven lambs were ear tagged and the males wethered. I then turned the lambs and the ewes back in with the rest of the sheep.

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This little one was off by himself while the other six were playing across the pen. All cleaned up, they are growing well and looking healthy. The yellow tags indicate ewe lambs while the white tags are the wethers.

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Fourth generation

In 2011 I purchased two registered Katahdin ewes out of Missouri. Both delivered twins for me in early 2012, however one was a horrible mother (see https://quibeynfarm.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/new-mama/). I was so taken by the one lamb’s ability to figure out a way to nurse that I kept her and when that ewe gave me a ewe lamb in 2014 with a black eye patch (ear tagged 02) I was talked into keeping that lamb as well. Since the majority of my ewes did not lamb last year at all, I wasn’t concerned when Ewe No. 02 didn’t lamb. Since this was her first year to give me any lambs I was expecting a single, so was pleasantly surprised when she gave me twins. Again a ram lamb and a ewe lamb, and in keeping with tradition, the ewe lamb has color. The ewe lamb was the smallest so far this year but still a respectable 8.5 lbs. Her brother was another big lamb, weighing in at 11 lbs.

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And more lambs

Sunday was a beautiful day – warm and sunny. So needless to say, none of the ewes lambed. Early this morning, about 3 am, the winds started blowing between 40 and 45 mph. I checked on sheep shortly after 4 am as they were restless and about 9 am, one of my young ewes delivered twins. Again, large for twins but this time the ewe lamb was 10.5 pounds and the ram lamb only 9.5 pounds.

Pregnant

Pregnant

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