Posted by: 347bennetrd | February 4, 2011

Weaning

January is a busy month.  There are about 3800 ewes that have lambs – lots of them twins – and all of the lambs have to be separated from their mothers.  We do it in about 3 sessions, one a week.  The first day is mustering, gathering up the mobs of ewes and lambs and bringing them closer to the yards.  Then after a 4.30am start we bring the sheep into the yards and start drafting.  Dad stands at the drafting gate (damn I meant to take a video of this but totally forgot) and splits the sheep into 4 mobs – ewes, big ewe lambs, wether lambs and runty ewe lambs, and finally prime lambs plus stragglers.  As the sheep are bucketing down the race Dad looks at the ear mark to tell what sex it is (or if it’s a straggler) and then judges each lamb to put it in the ‘keeper’ ewe lamb mob, the fat prime lamb mob, or the mob of lambs that will end up going to the works but need to get fatter first.

Here are some sheep in the yards in the morning sun.  This wasn’t when we were weaning but I was so busy I took no photos.  What a nong.

Once the drafting is done, we take the prime lamb group and put them through the weighing scales in the racewell.  The machine auto-drafts – that is we key in weights and gates automatically open or close depending on the weight of each lamb.  Anything over 33kg goes directly to the freezing works and the ones that don’t quite make it (but are still fatter than the general wether mob) go to a paddock with lots of grass and they’ll get sent off in the next round.

So the truck usually comes just after lunch to take the lambies away.  Here I am standing behind some over-exposed lambs, with more in the background waiting to go onto the truck (this photo is from almost the same time last year – can’t believe I’ve done a year…).

Once the lambs have gone we take the lambs back to paddocks for their first nights by themselves.   Shifting newly weaned lambs is quite difficult, they’re all flustered cos they’re looking for Mum, they turn in different directions and sprint madly off straight towards you or a dog.  Luckily we’ve got good lanes so can take them without too much hassle.  The ewes get put out in a paddock right near by as they’ll be coming back the next day for ‘mouthing and bagging’.  (More about that in my next post!)

Finally, here we are having a hard earned morning tea (this photo is a genuine shot, taken on the day!).  By the time we start at 4.30 and finish by about 8pm, it makes for a very big day – muffins at 10am are greatly appreciated…

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