Sooooo..........now to my thoughts for the day. It's interesting how we feed our Shetlands. Everyone is different in their methods. I've had an interesting lambing year here, with 4 separate breeding pens to assess how things 'work' shall we say. Lots of 'old timers' have theories.....and many times they are pretty much 'spot on'. Here's one - feed your ewes well and get them well filled out before breeding season. Keep feeding them quite well through breeding season to lambing. You'll increase the numbers of lambs. I had that ability to do so with my unregistered group - we have plenty of low-moisture 2nd cutting bailage round bales this winter so they got them as needed. Those girls are the most 'robust' in condition after lambing I've ever - yes ever - had. Plump for Shetlands. And I had the most twins and even a set of triplets ever! And what is the ratio? Yes, 2 boys to every girl born. At least. It might be close to 3 boys to every 1 ewe lamb now, I need to go double check.
There is an old theory out there that when the supply of food is great, there are many boys born. When it's poor, there are 'replacement' girls born, outnumbering the boys by far, and of course, lower numbers of lambs born overall - more singles than twins.
Ok, let's go over to pen #2. They didn't get grained in the fall, their setup isn't quite as perfect as pen #1 - more of an open shed and the gate not closed at night for additional heat (our gates are covered for the sheds). They also didn't get bailage, since there is not enough room in their setup for a round bale, but instead, 1st cutting grass hay that was not the very best - our summer last year was miserable for hay production and the hay shows it too. So far, 4 of the 6 ewes have lambed. Each with only a single. Body condition is fairly typical although I would say I'd like to have seen a bit more weight on them when we sheared last month! AUGH! Hay was not only at a premium but in short supply, so 'it shows'. BUT, of the 4 lambs born, all were standing up immediately after birth, all were born easily and of very good weight and size, and 3 of the 4 were girls. Hmmmmm.........
Now I have 2 other breeding pens. They are right next to each other. They got grain along with the marginal hay. One is a senior ram, one is a young ram lamb from last year. The senior ram girls are showing pregnancy, the young ram lamb's girls are not. Not really anyways, so far, but perhaps a little udder growth, so late season arrivals at best. In the senior ram's pen, only 1 has lambed so far but it too was a girl. Several others are getting closer to lambing. Time will tell what we end up with there.
So, lambing of the registereds so far is 5 girls have lambed, all were singles, and 4 of the 5 are girls. We'll see how the numbers work out in the end, but perhaps those 'old timers' knew what they were talking about? When you really need the numbers, feed them up.........when you really need replacement ewe lambs, be careful of over-feeding???????????? Hmmmmmmmm.........Just lucky?