pasture lambing jug

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pasture lambing jug

Postby Nathan McParlan » Mon Sep 08, 2014 11:25 am

Dr. Woody Lane spoke at the Wisconsin sheep and wool festival on Saturday. He showed a picture of a modified jug used on pasture. This consisted of 2 cattle panels held together on the ends and pushed together forming an oblong shape. He didn't give much detail other than some producers use jugs on pasture in Oregon. I had never heard of this or considered it.

Does anyone on the sheep board use jugs while pasture lambing? Oregon producers? How do you do it? Pitfalls, advantages or experiences? Is this only for the occasional problem lambs? I've heard of using portable pasture lambing shelters for inclement weather, but the pictured jug would seem to be a disadvantage in bad weather.

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Nate

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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby denice » Mon Sep 08, 2014 11:33 am

Any/all of my lambs can climb through the squares of a cattle panel for several weeks. If I needed a jug pasture lambing I would not use that. It would be interesting to talk to someone who does.

I would think with multiple newborn lambs a jug might be a good thing.

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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby Darroll Grant » Mon Sep 08, 2014 2:06 pm

I found some used plastic calf hutches for a good discount. I have used one as a pasture jug during a cold wet day. They should pay for themselves as jugs or lamb shelters on pasture as the lambs will be able to get out of the weather for a dry off.

Some of the pasture pig small metal hoop sheds would also work.
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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby lambchop » Mon Sep 08, 2014 7:10 pm

We don't use pasture jugs. If there is a problem that requires intervention, we load the lamb in a small trailer behind the ATV and the ewe will jump in and we take them to a temporary shelter in the hay barn. Don't have permanent lambing barn or jugs. Very seldom we need to intervene .
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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby Janet McNally » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:41 am

When I first began pasture lambing (23 years ago) I used a jug made from hog panels tied into a circle for ewes that seemed to have trouble keeping track of newborns, but over time, I culled those ewes if they needed that kind of help. Now if a ewe (or her lambs...sometimes it is the lamb* not the ewe) cannot stick together, I just orphan the lambs and ship the ewe. The reason is two fold, one is over time, culling those ewes, it has become a rather rare event. The other reason is that I have found, and Dr. Joe Rook confirmed in a study, that you really never solve mothering issues, you just delay the problem. When you turn those ewes out into a more extensive situation, they tend to fall apart either loosing the lamb, or at least weaning a lamb that was underweight.

Weather related jugging is a separate issue. In New Zealand some seedstock producers make use of cubicals that look something like a row of outhouses on the edge of the lambing paddock for inclement weather. I use tepees for the same purpose, primarily to shelter triplets during when temps dip below 45 degrees combined with all day rain.

while sheltering a good mother from the weather usually has a good outcome, attempting to assist a poor mother who just does not understand her job, usually does not change the fact she is a poor mother.

Janet

* what Joe Rook's research found was that intervention to save a lamb, usually just prolonged its life by a week or so. i.e. that a lamb that is determined to wander off, or be ill, is going to do so once you turn the lamb out again. Whether this is the fault of the ewe or not requires some judgement. Sometimes it is the sire of the lamb passing on those wandering genes, not the dam.

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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby ASheepAtTheWheel » Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:35 pm

I pasture jug, and use half cattle panels for a square and another half to split the square in half. In inclement weather another panel arched over the top can hold a temporary tarp. I think this past year we employed 9 half panels and 4 whole panels and 4 tarps, for a total of 4 pens. I process lambs with tags and bands after a day or two, then turn 'em out. Easy peasy to tear down when done, and stack them up beside the shed.

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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby Bill Fosher » Thu Sep 11, 2014 3:54 am

I would argue that any operation that routinely jugs all ewes is not actually pasture lambing, but using shed lambing techniques outdoors. One of the main benefits of pasture lambing is the reduction in labor per lamb born, and the main place that reduction comes from is the elimination of jugging.

Now, you do need to be ready to have some system that can serve to handle the occasional problem -- whether that's wandering lambs, an inattentive ewe, a need to graft an orphan, etc. But this should be a very low percentage of the flock. Weather related jugging is another emergency situation.

Pasture lambing does require timing of breeding according to the normal weather and grass growth patterns for your area, and it does require selection pressure for a different kind of maternal ability than you select for in a shed. During the transition from shed lambing to pasture lambing you will probably need to do a lot of jugging to get a lamb crop weaned. And you'll need to study why each ewe ended up in a jug to determine whether it's a black mark against her or if you need to do something different management-wise. Common pasture lambing mistakes include doing things like feeding a supplement that causes the ewes to clump up. Ewes that have just give birth might walk away from their lambs, or lambs that follow the ewes to the feed might get lost in the scrum.

In my mind, if you're going to be jugging every ewe, you might as well do it in a shed or a lot. Less ground to cover.

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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby Janet McNally » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:50 am

thank you Bill :D I was struggling with the concept of jugging all ewes and calling it pasture lambing. All the labor saving benefits are lost when a ewe goes into the jug as are the production benefits as well. If there is a large need to pen up ewes, then the flock owner needs to examine the genetics in the flock, or their own management and ask the question...WHY?

I know for at least some people, it is just a matter of control. Some people need to feel like they have control over a situation. Pasture lambing is about letting go of that need to micro manage the ewe, and instead step back and just manage the whole group and the environment they are in. It is about replacing labor and purchased inputs with knowledge inputs. If you do your job right, then the ewes should be doing their job right. If not, then you need a different set of ewes or you need to re examine your management.

that said, when starting out new to pasture lambing, or with a new set of sheep, there will initially be a need to pen up some ewes until a person has worked out the bugs. This can be done in any number of ways using what materials are already at hand, or that are very portable. Moving an individual ewe and her lambs takes a lot of time, the further you have to move her the more time (and perhaps frustration) involved. So a portability is perhaps the most important criteria for a pen that is used out on pasture, especially if lambing on land that is remote from the farmstead. If one already owns a tractor or atv, a pen for hauling sheep in a trailer, or on the 3 point hitch can be very handy for bringing individual sheep back to a shelter.

But as stated earlier, the objective of pasture lambing, is to not have to move individual sheep at all.

Janet

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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby Saffronsheepranch » Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:55 am

LOL Janet. Your reply sounded suspiciously like smart people pasture lamb and people with mental/control issues jug their lambs. LOL

IMO, smart ewes don't pasture lamb. Mine will only lamb outside if the temperature is 70 degrees or more and perfectly sunny and they lamb between 9-11 am so they are prepared for the nightfall trek home and the lambs are warming up all day. Failing perfection, they opt to lamb in the barn. Ewes choose safe, sheltered, warm places to have their lambs- just because people can force ewes to lamb in none of the above does not make sheep or shepherd intelligent. Mine spent most of their time lambing on the prairie though, so the only thing that fit the bill for all 3 was the barn. Besides that though, ewes like to be jugged. Whether it is an 11-14 month old new mother or older ewes with rambunctious trips or quads- it is so obvious that she appreciates her charges being contained at first. At any rate, no ewe would lamb in the rain, the wind, mist, snow, in pokey brush or without shelter or without shade, whatever the element, unless forced to. On my farms, the barn represents the greatest level of safety and comfort- the obvious place to drop babies. Barns may be man made but sheep are smart enough to know a good idea when they see it.

Maybe you say, your ewes would always choose to lamb out in the weather in some sticks. I just think if a ewe opts to do that when she has a nice barn, she is thinking of her own comfort (privacy or the wool on her back) and not what is best for the lambs. Mine lamb in full wool but always choose what is optimum for their babes (for the next few days) which is nice because that is their whole job. You may argue that ewes like to lamb in privacy and you are right, that is why the ewes choose the drop area and all the other ewes stay out of it. In my last barn, there was a lambing room. In this new open barn, I set up a panel to create a 3 sided lambing room in a corner. If ewes were in the lambing area, the ewe that wanted to lamb would tap all the sleeping ewes on the rear end with a hoof and they would know to leave. Often the ewe has the whole barn to herself. It is so perfect and convenient and so much less work and exactly what the ewes themselves choose that I can't think we are merely not evolved enough to know what is good for us.

Why anyone would walk a pasture searching or band lambs in the rain or snow or wind or dark is beyond my comprehension when you can pop across the yard or hook up a camera and keep sleeping. That is priceless and what I plan to have installed before Feb.
Kirsten Wendt
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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby DonDrewry » Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:06 am

Sometimes it's easiest to understand the benefits of a concept by taking it to the extreme. Quite frankly, the labor to lamb 20-50 ewes whether it is in the barn or on pasture is do-able and few decisions really get made on how much labor is involved. But, in most cases the income from that number of ewes isn't remotely enough to be be a major income producing part of a farm. So, take it to a much bigger operation so that there are 500 or 1000 ewes. Even if I have an excellent barn, lambing 1000 ewes, jugging them and processing them in a classic barn operation is a lot of work for one person. I doubt very many people could do that year in and year out themselves.

Could one person lamb 1000 ewes in a pasture operation where by definition you had the ewes doing all the work. (No jugging, no navels treated, no shots at birth, no nothing :D ) Yes, you could but you'd have to be doing what Bill and Janet described and not some sort of wall-less movable barn type system. I'm not sure when they catch to dock and castrate but that's just a handling facility that you move the sheep through at some time period.
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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby Janet McNally » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:52 pm


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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby Mike Wallace » Fri Sep 12, 2014 1:29 pm

Anthropomorphism aside:

We have pasture lambed for lots of years, and shed lambed for even more years. IMO what Joe Rook's limited study showed is correct.
The sheep we run, in our environment, are best off (lowest lamb mortality rate) if left alone. As quietly as possible, we pickup deads when seen, and rightside casted ewes, NEVER, jug, separate, assist thinking you are helping, mother-up, pickup supposed bummers, etc. I used to do those things, and they do more harm to the flock as a whole than what I do now, which is just about nothing. However, I do not dock, castrate or tag lambs. I do not know, and do not want to know which ewe had what. I only care which pasture/flock they are from.
This year's lamb crops by pasture were/is:
Drop/ewe exposed = 218% and 232%,
Lamb mortality to 90 days = 6.5% and 5.6%,
Barren ewes(not rearing lamb) = 2% and 0.5%
, and,

Lambs alive at 90+ days/ewe rearing lamb = 204% and 219%.

I touched three live sheep or lambs between May 5 and August 20.
One cast ewe who recovered and lambed,
one dink lamb in July to treat for ? which died anyhow, and
two ewes for mastitis in July, one died one lived to cull.

Beat that in a barn with hundreds of ewes, or, on a pasture with jugs thinking you know better how to be a momma sheep than a ewe does.

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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby Nathan McParlan » Fri Sep 12, 2014 1:36 pm

"IMO, smart ewes don't pasture lamb"

My experience has been that pasture lambing is less labor intensive and even enjoyable. It also allows you to have a full time job during lambing, therefore I would have a hard time going back to barn lambing. I hear that a major issue hampering growth of the sheep industry is the inherent higher labor investment for sheep vs cattle. For those pasture based flocks maybe this could help?

I have ewes from genetics that did pasture lamb and ewes from genetics that shed lamb. I switched to pasture lambing this past spring. I noticed no difference in the ewes ability to take care of business. Even the older ewes who had previously barn lambed seemed to transition fine. I suspect that most people with hair sheep or white face ewes would not have to significantly change their genetics.

I plan to expand the flock. If I had to shed lamb them all I would re-think my plan. In my case, the greatest impediment to expansion has not been lambing, but managing the livestock guardian dogs.

nate

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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby Brian Dietrich » Fri Sep 12, 2014 4:33 pm

I agree that pasture-lambing flocks should strive to not put ewes in jugs routinely. Like others, I put the occasional ewe in the hay barn with her lambs if they need help. For paddocks without much natural shelter, I have used the silt fencing such as is used on construction sites for runoff control during inclement weather if needed. It is inexpensive, easy to carry or put on a quad, comes with its own posts, and provides a nice wind and rain/snow break for the ewes and lambs. It can be set up perpendicular to the primary wind direction or several can be set up at different angles (or in curves) if the wind is shifting.
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Re: pasture lambing jug

Postby BIGIRON59 » Sat Sep 13, 2014 7:28 am

I am Glad Mike weighed in on this. I met Mike recently while at the Clay Center Sale. I don't pasture lamb, because I don't have pasture. But You can shed lamb with the same concept. I will tag , ect. But the "need to jug" may be more to sooth your control sense than help the ewes. If you have maternal ewes they will take care of their job. As with any employee, if they do not do their job, they will be terminated. AS my flock grows, the terminations are less. Mostly because the problems have been terminated. 90 percent of my "jug" problems last year (black face or white face) were with purchased ewes. They have been terminated.

If you provide adequate nutrition, shelter, and provide necessary veterinary care, your ewes should be pretty much hands off.
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