Well we’ve been busy. We just got in all the hay, luckily before the over inch of rain fell. Last year our entire second cutting was destroyed by rain. We buy hay from a neighbor and we’d already contracted for it so we were out the whole cost of the hay, cutting, baling etc. This year we bought hay from the same neighbor but we managed to get it cut and baled earlier. Although it didn’t quite all fit in the barn it’s still a great feeling to have most of the hay under cover. We should have enough for the whole winter now.
We got most of the ram lambs sorted out of the main group and into their winter corrals. They all got their second vaccination too. We had planned to work the ewes again and do all the ewe lambs but it’s been raining heavily and the sheep are wet. Not only is it no fun to work wet sheep, vaccinating wet sheep makes it more likely for them to get some sort of infection at the injection site. It’s supposed to get warm and sunny again later this week so we’ll reschedule and do them then.
I’ve had some requests for more info on our sheep selection procedures. I have always used a selection index to choose who to keep and who to cull. I have in my mind the ideal Black Welsh Mountain sheep. I also have a list of characteristics I consider important. This list can change each year but includes subjective things like teeth, legs, body style, temperament, wool quality and horn shape as well as objective measures like birth weight, fleece length and average daily gain. Each sheep is graded on a scale of 1 to 5 against each individual characteristic and then they are added up. Weights are converted to a numeric score. A 5 is perfect a 1 is bad. The overall scores are my first cut at culling. In years past the range from the best sheep to the worst ones was very wide. So it was easy to cull the bottom animals. But now most of the index scores are very close and the culling comes down to which individual characteristic is more important. For this year I am focusing on the 3 characteristics that affect our income the most, fleece length, fleece weight and average daily gain.