15 Jan Scanning Day!
Today is scanning day for us on the Williams Family Farm.
Last year I recieved several messages about scanning from my lovely non-farming followers who were interested to know what it’s all about, so for those who don’t know it’s exactly like when you’re pregnant and go for your first scan but there’s no comfy, warm waiting areas, there’s a lot more mud and the sheep don’t get to take the picture home with them after!
Seriously though, for us it’s where we find out how many beautiful babies to expect! And I get suuuuper excited about that part!
Before I knew as much as I know now (and I’m far from being an expert. I still enjoy learning about well everything sheep!), when I was just a “student farm wife” let’s say! I never really understood the importance of scanning and the numbers that come with it…
At the end, when all of the sheep have been scanned the scanner will give you a breakdown of how many singles, doubles, trips etc you’ll be expecting (that’s sheep that are having one, two or three, and sometimes more lambs).
Now you really want each ewe to have two lambs because well that’s what she has two udders for afterall! One lamb per ewe will usually be very strong, healthy and big which is great but it won’t bring enough profit come market time, and three or more lambs is okay but its harder work – The lambs tend to be smaller, which also means weaker so you’ll need to take a lamb off the ewe once born because the ewe, unless she is a very good milky mummy, won’t have enough to feed three little ones. So then you’ll either need to find that lamb another mummy or become one yourself – making your job harder, especially if you have 50 or more of them to look after!
Finding out who has what is also vital for the care they recieve next, between scanning and labour.
Like any mother they need a healthy and balanced diet and they need to eat the right amount depending on the number of lambs they’re having.
– Feed them too much and you get huge lambs that cause huge problems when the ewe tries to give birth to a lamb too big for her. Not to mention the problems that it can cause the ewe – if she’s too fat from being over fed she runs the risk of getting stuck on her back or prolapsing.
– Feed them too little and your ewe won’t have enough milk to feed her little ones and the little ones themselves will be weak, small lambs with no weight behind them and that’s not what you want when market day comes around.
As they are scanned the scanner will call out the number of lambs they’re expecting. We then mark the ewes fleece with a different coloured spray so that we know what they’re having. In our case it’s green for single, orange for double and purple for triplets but everyone will do it differently.
Ewes expecting one lamb (single) will need to be fed differently to the ewes expecting three who will need more feeding, so they are grouped off into their bunches and head off into their separate fields with their new friends for the last couple of months. There they will be fed the right amount of feed until they come in to give birth!
A lot of farmers choose not to scan at all. I guess because they feel like the lambs are going to come out anyway, so why spend the money and waste hours going through the motions but I, as well as many many others see it as vital that this process happens for the health and wellbeing of the ewe and the lambs. Plus it makes life a tad easier for you when that ewe marked as a double has had her first lamb but it’s been a while and there’s no sign of number two – Because she is marked you know to go looking for that second one!
Then there’s the percentage. Now I’ve never been good at maths and this has taken me a long time to get my head around but at the end of the scan you get a percentage and that is the number that every farmer is anxiously waiting for. It has to be right and to be right it wants to be at around 170-180 percent.
What’s this calculation all about I hear you ask? Well, it’s the number of lambs you’re expected to have compared to the number of ewes. So if you had 100 ewes and between them they had 180 lambs your percentage would be 180%.
Get it? I hope so because I barely understand it enough myself so I can’t go into further detail I’m afraid… You’ll just have to Google it!
It’s a busy day for us but one that I thoroughly enjoy. Its a family affair and everyone has a role to play. Myself, Ben and his Dad do all the sheep stuff and his mum does all of the teas and coffees and lunch, and most importantly the cake!!
It’s a day that I get to spend with my husband and I always enjoy those days. We work well together…most of the time.
Well, what started as a small Instagram post has turned into a whole blog post and time is ticking so I’d better get out there before Farmer Ben comes searching for me!
Kiss Kiss & Keep Dancing!
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