Lamb chores is my polite way of saying that I was castrating lambs today. Don’t worry, there aren’t any pictures that are too bad here!
Male lambs that aren’t going to be kept for breeding stock are castrated, and this has to happen within 7 days of birth. I usually castrate the lambs within 2-3 days of birth, but since I’ve been back at work this week, I had to catch up with all the lambs born since Tuesday. As well as castrating males, all the lambs have their tails docked. This is for hygiene reasons, as is detailed here
Before I start, there was another Cheviot single this morning, meaning there are only 7 sheep left to lamb. They’ve been moved to in front of my house, so it’ll be easier to keep an eye on them.
I got all the sheep and lambs penned quite easily. The sheep were bribed with some feed and the lambs duly followed.
This is a good chance to give the lambs a once over. One of the problems in their first week is that the rich milk from their mothers means their poo clogs up the rear end and turns as hard as concrete! This poor lamb had that very problem. Rock solid and blocking any further ‘waste’ being discharged.
It’s a bit messy removing this, and the substance that shoots out tends to look like butterscotch Angel Delight…..
This is the big lump removed from the lamb.
All the lambs are docked and then our sign applied, to differentiate them from other animals in the village.
The females get a red spot on the back of the head, but the males don’t, just to make it easier for us to keep track of numbers.
Now the interesting bit. I think I’m pretty good at the castration, but I sure am glad I never had to do it in the old style. Now, a rubber ring is attached to the scrotum, which withers up and falls off. You have to make sure that both testicles are in there too! Before these rubber rings came along, it used to be done by making an opening with a knife and biting them off with your teeth!!!!
The lambs might have some discomfort for a wee while, but they’re soon over it. You can see from the above picture how it’s done. I usually pinch the base of the scrotum to ensure both testes are firmly within it and then put the applicator and ring over, ensuring the testicles are still inside once I remove the applicator.
Not all lambs are done, though. This year I have kept 3 as potential rams. If any of them don’t develop as well as I’d like, they will be off to the sales before they’re 6 months old anyway. Here is one of the 3 lucky ones I’ve kept – all three are pure Cheviots. I put a dot on each shoulder, just so I can identify them from distance.