Winter lambing began for us in early January 2012 and concluded by January 30. Following is a listing of our ewes and their lambs.
Dandy (1/10/12) birthed one ewe lamb, named Sassy.
Candy (1/19/12) birthed twins, a ram lamb named Hank and a ewe lamb named Helen.
Lily (1/29/12) birthed twins, a ram lamb named Wilber and a ewe lamb named Joy. Lily didn't accept Wilber and so we bottle feed him.
Clara (1/30/12) birthed twin ram lambs, Jasper and Casper.
We will be selling the four ram lambs in August of 2012. Click on the Sheep for Sale hyperlink to see pictures and a pedigree for each one. Price is $225 at our farm; the buyer must also pay the veterinarian's health certification fee which is about $40.
We are also experiencing for the first time, summer lambing which started in July 2012, with two ewes, Dandy and Candy, each birthing twins.
February 2011 marks the beginning of our lambing season for this year. Our first ewe to birth lambs was Clara who birthed twin ewe lambs on February 11, 2011. We plan register and then keep these lambs as future ewes in our Barbados Blackbelly flock at Knoll Acres. Clara birthed during the day, unassisted, and when I found her with the two lambs they had both nursed and were "up and ready to run"! See the photograph below for a view of these lambs with their mama when they were only 1 day old.
This spring our two ewe lambs, now young ewes, each gave birth to single lambs. Lily birthed a young male lamb on May 1, 2010 and Clara birthed a young male lamb on May 10, 2010. Both of the lambs are thriving and growing rapidly.
Zoya holding young Barbados blackbelly lamb
Lily with her one day old lamb, born May 1, 2010.
Clara with her May 21, 2010 ram lamb; two days old.
On November 23, 2009, we received our first group of Barbados Blackbelly sheep. These sheep, three lambs, were purchased from Mary Swindell, Bellwether Farm, Cobden, Illinois. They were transported from Illinois to Virginia by Ron Keener, who has a small livestock hauling business and goes from coast to coast.
Above: Barbados Blackbelly Lambs @ Knoll Acres
The photograph above (taken in November of 2009 in our sheep barn) shows from left to right these three lambs:
These arrived in good health and were placed in the sheep barn and pasture along with some Polypay lambs remaining from our spring lamb crop.
Our goal during the next few years is to build a small foundation flock of registered Barbardos Blackbelly sheep. I hope to add to this group a few other lambs with different bloodlines.
We began our sheep project in 1992 when I purchased older six ewes from the Rockingham Livestock Auction. Several of these ewes were Hampshires and carried papers. I later purchased a registered Hampshire ram which we we used for a couple of years.
Above: Gentle Sue, a registered Hampshire ewe with triplets
In our experience, our Hampshire and mixed ewes typically birthed twins or singles. Frequently their birthing required assistance since the lambs tended to be rather large. On the positive side these lambs grew quickly and it didn't seem to take long for them to reach 100 - 105 lbs, which was optimal for market at that time. Because of the large size of the Hampshires and their difficulty in birthing, we decided to transition into Polypay sheep.
By about 1997, our flock consisted primarily of Polypay ewes with a few mixed or cross-bred ewes. I purchased a registered Polypay ram which we kept for several years. This particular ram became aggressive and un-safe. (I was especially concerned about our young daughters safety when working with the sheep and the ram.) Consequently, I sold the ram and then bought a temporary replacement hair ram, an American Blackbelly which we keep for two years. Then finally in 2003, I bought another registered Polypay ram which we kept until this past year (2008).
Above: A Polypay ewe with twin lambs
During the fall of 2007 and 2008, I had the same flock of seven ewes which were either Polypay or Polypay crosses. These ewes performed well and had mostly twins and triplets. During the spring of 2009, these seven ewes birthed eighteen lambs -- all twins and triplets! One triplet was either born dead or died at birth. The remaining seventeen survived the early problems that sometimes cause lamb mortality. Then in early May, a coyote killed one of the lambs. Later in June, when we were on a family trip away from Knoll Acres, two more lambs died. One was found dead (probably surcumbed to worms; the other caught it's head in a gate and strangled to death. That left fourteen lambs which we have managed to raise for market.
On Saturday, November 14, I took four lambs (average weight 90 lbs) to the livestock auction and received $1.25/lb for these lambs. Sometime before Christmas, I plan to take the remaining lambs to the livestock auction.
Above: Young Polypay lambs, soon ready for market.
Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Association Website BB Sheep Association
Consortium of Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Growers Barbados Blackbelly Consortium
Bellwether Farm, Mary Swindell's flock of Barbado Blackbelly sheep Bellwether Farm
Critterhaven Farm, Carol Elkins' website that has a lot of material on Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Critterhaven Farm
For information about Hampshire sheep visit the American Hampshire Sheep Association American Hampshires
For information about Polypay sheep visit the American Polypay Sheep Association website Polypay Sheep