When my mother passed away, she owned a herd of about twenty American Blackbellies. We always called them “Barbados”, but just recently I met a very special lady that taught me some new things about this type of sheep. Valerie Hard is in the business of raising sheep and goats for sale. She sold registered stock up until she lost her main breeding ram. She explained to me that Barbados don’t have beautiful horns, and females rarely have horns at all. Americans did some selective breeding, and produced an animal that doesn’t need to be sheared, produces excellent meat for human consumption, and both sexes have horns like Rocky Mountain big horn sheep, the male’s horns curve into a spiral, giving them a majestic appearance. (A look at both https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbados_Black_Belly)
(more info- https://www.blackbellysheep.org/ and some photos https://www.blackbellysheep.org/about-the-sheep/photos/ ) also If you have questions about either breed, you are welcome to send them to email@example.com. And http://www.barbadosblackbelly.com/ for more info.
I was unable to attain my mothers herd, and now, twenty one years later, I have started my own herd, with animals purchased from Valerie. I am starting with two yearlings and a four year old, all females, and possibly pregnant. They all are registered stock, and the offspring will be traceable.
Valerie brought them late in the evening of June 12, 2017, just before dark. We locked them in the mini-barn that I built, and let them out early Wednesday morning. I recorded their release and uploaded it to YouTube. (see https://youtu.be/wGqTJAlVngs)
Below are photos of the barn construction.
I had a portable deck beside the pond. I moved it for the barn, and uncovered mama duck’s nest with a bunch of eggs. She supervised the entire construction, and managed to hatch those eggs.
YouTube https://youtu.be/wGqTJAlVngs we open the door and let them out for the first time! But, they don’t want to come out right away! They are very nervous, and could easily jump over any one of my four foot fences, but if they did, they would still be on the property. They would have to clear five feet, six inches (barb wire, ouch!) to leave my property. The Fourth of July is near, and they have already been spooked by illegal fireworks (rockets), set off by my neighbors. I worry they will set fire to my field.
I tried to fence off the area behind the storage sheds, but they slipped through two converging wire fence sections. I went out today (7-9-2017) to mend the opening, and I noticed that they had rubbed off most of their remaining winter “wool”, squeezing through the opening. If one were collecting the wool to make yarn, it would be simple to build a device that would comb them as they passed through it for a treat. The fence is mended, and the sprinkler is on. The grass is getting greener every day.
The girls, relaxing in the shade under the mister.
Five spray nozzles make a fifteen foot curtain of micro-fine mist, that runs 24 hours a day. I got it up before our ten day heat wave.
The squirrels don’t run away any more! There’s a million of them always getting into the feed.. L
Momma duck is still on her eggs in that hot barn. She has been there since the sheep arrived. Today is 7-9-17. Almost a month.
Some wool caught in the fence. Fixed that escape route today.
Looking back from Mike’s boat, you can see all three girls, lying under the mister system that I hung from a branch of the giant willow tree.
You can see our lone Canadian Honker approaching the sheep, and she walks right by them within inches. This bird never leaves. We don’t know if it is unable to fly.
Anita says, “If you feed a Canadian, they will never leave!” J
Fixey fence, fixey fence, fixey fence! I am going to stand under the mister! It’s 102F today!
We are back to milder temps. Mid to high 90s. A couple YouTube videos of Denise hand feeding. 7-18-17
I found another mother duck with a nest in the vegetation on the fence. She hatched out at least fifteen babies. Here, only a portion of the eggs have hatched. Mom put her newly hatched babies in the sun to dry, and she went back on the nest to hatch the rest.
The first tragedy
When I woke up this morning (7:30), I looked outside to check on the girls. They were standing at the gate, which is unusual. They usually wait for me at the sliding gate, to let them into the main pasture.
I went out right away, and I noticed a strange object at the front of the barn. A closer look revealed two baby sheep. They were dead. One was dry, and one was still very wet. I looked at mama, and I could see the cord dragging behind her. In shock, and not knowing what to do, I went ahead and opened the sliding gate. The acted like they wanted to go through, but as I walked back to the main gate, they followed me, so I gave them a coffee can full of sweet feed (pellets). As usual, May was the first one to start eating, and, as usual, the other two waited for me to go back through the main gate. I started a grave, but the ground was hard and dry, so I soaked it, and came in to contact Valerie.
To Valerie Hard
We have been enjoying our new family. The girls have done very well here. For a while, we thought that all three were pregnant, but as time went by, it was only obvious in the oldest female. I was thinking that they should be due in mid or late October. When I went out this morning, the older female had given birth to two. They were dead, most likely stillborn. I was unprepared for this, and was hoping you could shed some light on this tragic event. enclosed are photos.
Hi Pete-glad to hear most is fairly well! Sorry about the rough introduction to your sheep farming re-start.
So that does happen (obviously)--here's a bit on a likely cause:
Campylobacterisis is a common cause of abortion in ewes. Abortion during the last month of pregnancy, stillborn lambs, and the birth of weak lambs are common signs of vibrio abortion. The organisms which cause abortion are Campylobacter jejuni or Campylobacter fetus. Ewes are infected by oral ingestion.
As far as younger ewes: they could be pregnant. As 1st timers they won't show much. My ewes still haven't lambed so you still have time I'm thinking.
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I have 100 Questions for you!
History-How many pregnancies in past? Any stillbirth? Any preemies? What was earliest possible date she was impregnated? Are these babies normal sized? One was still inside amniotic sack. Both were males.
Twelve hours later, the umbilical is still dragging the ground.
Is that normal? Is there something I should be doing?
What was the earliest due date for all three females? I think May is pregnant. Not sure about Sable.
May looks pregnant!
It was right before you got back in touch with me so I think it was late April to early May (exact date is at home).
Overall pregnancies? 100's
That ewe? 3rd or 4th (data at home)
I've had a couple stillborn and one premie over the years.
I saw the one didn't get out of sac if it wasn't dead already then it was weak--I think it was dead already...
She's been a very good mother so not like her to not get it out (or usually they do it on their own of course)....it's eyes look sunk in so I think it was stillborn and the other one was probably also but the mom tried to clean it.
The mother needs to pass the placenta. Nursing stimulates that process so if she still has not passed it I'd catch her and milk her out some.
If she still has it after a couple days you might need some hormones and antibiotic injections---I've never had to do that with a sheep but did with a goat.
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The mother pawed the ground around the babies.
This one was stll in amniotic sack.
Pee-pees! Two little boys!
Such tiny faces! I’m thinking “preemie!”
Born in the dirt. L
Tried to get view of umbilical, still hanging.
These are from my phone. Better camera.
You can see umbilical here.
May looks pregnant to me!
On Oct 8, 2017, at 7:15 PM, Terry Peterson <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
May gave birth to a healthy baby boy today. I have been checking on them every couple hours during the day, and today around 3:00 I noticed that May was in labor. I watched her for some time, and she seemed to be struggling. When she stood, I could see that things were not OK. When I finally got close enough, I could see the head and one leg. I watched her for quite some time while I tried to contact you. I also called the vet. I got no response, and after about an hour, I started to follow her until she laid down. First I pulled on the leg I could see, with no effect, and I finally reached inside her and freed the other leg. She got up and ran away, and I held onto the legs, and the baby slipped out. I was unable to reunite them, so now I have a bottle baby. I never heard from the vet either, but I thought I would let you know that you may expect babies of your own, very soon.
I've been wanting to let you know we've started having lambs (7 so far & 1 that didn't make it.)
So is that one total? Almost sounded like she had 1 and 1 had to be pulled but I'm thinking it was just the one. Boy-you've had a rough intro! They really are easy??!?? Sounds like a challenging presentation but hard for me to say for sure if she needed help---and ideal and is putting them together (in a "jug"/small pen) for him to get colostrum and good milk (I hate milk replacer---there are recipes with cows milk if you can't get goat milk).
Good luck with bottle lamb!
Did you have any twins? How far apart can they come? I'm not sure if Sable is pregnant or not. She is big, but not much bigger than May after giving birth. What are some replacement brands that I should look for?
Yes some twins but lots of singles.
They traditionally come within minutes to an hour. If placenta is gone she is done.
I don't suggest any milk replacers - better luck with cows milk recipes (I use straight goats milk now that I have it but have used cows milk recipes with great success)
Powdered replacers frequently gives scours and so I don't suggest them.
Here's a recipe and schedule that looks fine:
I took a short video of the new baby within an hour of birth. Uploaded to YouTube. https://youtu.be/pBdu97EjvyU
A few stills of our bottle baby!
Some pecans from my tree. Baby boy about five hours old.
The dogs don’t know what that is!
The goose that won’t leave has a broken wing.
He/she stays close. J.C.’s friends pick on him/her.
That’s how the wing got broken!
To be continued!