Wednesday 24th January 2018
Continued 'Inside' time
The sheep have been inside their field shelter for a while now as we are still very wet underfoot and as previously mentioned (probably quite a few times) their feet do poach their ground a lot as well running the risk of picking up scald. We are continuing to feed them to make sure the ewes keep in good condition and we have also just given them an energy lick. These licks contain, amongst other things, molasses which actually are like candies to the sheep (and cows) and as such the sheep do rather enjoy them.
We have been having an online chat about pregnant ewes. There is a danger of both over and under feeding, the former resulting in lambs that may be too big for birthing and the latter resulting in poorly ewes that put all the energies into the developing lambs rather than themselves. Twin lamb disease (which can affect goats too) occurs when an undernourished ewe’s own fat reserves are broken down in her liver into units called ketones. If the ewe doesn't receive additional energy supplies to top her up, these ketones can then go on to poison her blood, which can lead to death. We have never had this but it is always a very real risk.
One school of thought suggests that you don't need to feed Shetland ewes at all as their body make up is such that they don't have a lot of fat and as such are quite okay on the skinny side. We fed ours last year and apart from Bressay who gave birth to a still born (cause unknown), all lambed fine. For the moment we will continue to give a bit of feed, monitor their weights through body condition scoring and see how we go!