It's now three weeks away from when the first ewe, Hero, is due to lamb. In sheep it is 147 days after being covered by the ram that the lamb is born (+/- 5 days). So we know when most were covered because our ram was wearing a raddle with a coloured crayon and we kept track while he did his job.
As lambing gets closer the lambs start to grow in size. They don't put on size until about six weeks to go, which allows the ewes to run away from 'bad things'. The vet came out last week and injected the ewes with an anti clostridial drug to protect them and the lambs. It is a sign lambing is approaching since it is done four weeks ahead of time.
We've split the flock, the boys are in a back pasture. The girls are in a front pasture where they can go out if it is nice and come in if it isn't. They seemed happy with this idea. With a couple of weeks to go they will be brought in to settle down and find where they want to lamb.
So with three weeks the ewes are starting to show. They are getting larger tummies and like to sit down a lot; sometimes they can't get comfortable. Other times they lie there then whip their heads around to stare at their tummy, probably because the lambs are moving.
One problem for ewes is that the larger the lambs get the less quantity of food a ewe can physically eat because the lambs press on the rumen and make it smaller. The rumen is where a sheep digests its food which it does by fermenting it. Ironically, this is the time when the ewe needs that nutrition the most; the more lambs she has on board, the more extra nutrition she requires.
So we feed them.
Currently they are getting a mixture of pellets that we soak over night. They are alfalfa pellets which is very nutritious and grass pellets which is compressed chopped grass with nothing else added. We also put in some sugar beet which is nice and sweet.
They all like this. Our four old girls, Arwen, Lily, Lulu and Ruby are in the field with the pregnant ewes so they benefit from this food as well. All of this keeps the sheep and lambs in better condition which means that the wool is good. The pregnant ewe prioritises the lamb over her own condition, and this is very bad for her wool (and for her, obviously). With this extra care, the ewe can produce beautiful lambs and excellent yarn at the same time!