Flock Management

Flock Management

 

Flock management includes all processes involved in producing healthy livestock.

At Ewetopia Farms, these are some of the effective management steps we take to ensure we provide superior sheep selection for our customers.

Quality Feed

We start by producing our own top-quality hay and grains which are harvested and stored in such a way as to ensure exceptional feed for our sheep year 'round.

This involves dry-baling and storing those bales under cover, wrap-baling, and storing grains in ventilated silos and bins to prevent moulds from forming.

Rotational Grazing

Pastures are kept small and rotated frequently. The sheep are put out to graze as soon as the grasses are more than 8-inches tall and all the sheep have been fecal tested and treated for parasites.

They remain in each pasture for 5 days. Each group of sheep has 6 pastures to rotate through so after a month, they are back in the first pasture. This extends the grazing season for the sheep as pastures never get over-grazed.

This is also a non-invasive method of parasite control as the sheep are off each paddock long enough to break the worms' lifecycle.

Predator Control

Sheep are not left in pastures at night or during lambing. We provide paddocks and barns keeping sheep safe during these critical periods.

We also have guardian dogs and a llama in with the sheep at all times, providing predator control. All external fences are complete with sheep page-wire flush with the ground.

These steps ensure Ewetopia Farms maintains their zero sheep loss record due to coyote predation.

Sanitation

Cleanliness is critical to flock management.

Sheep barns are kept bedded with fresh straw throughout the year. Lambing jugs are cleaned after every individual lambing and all feeding equipment are cleaned daily. Having metal equipment ensures easier disinfection.

Ewetopia Farms ensures all visitors adhere to biosecurity practices. 

Nutritional Analysis

Sheep are grouped according to their varying nutritional requirements throughout each year.

These groups are fed according to age, body condition, breed of sheep, introduction of rams, pregnancy, and lactation to help assure optimum health, productivity and prolificacy of the sheep at the various stages in their lives.

Animal Health

Hoof-trimming, deworming, vaccinating, and administering drugs are all done on an as needed basis.

All sheep are vaccinated yearly. During lambing, all ewes are dewormed and trimmed when they leave the jugs.

Dewormers are alternated to avoid parasite resistance to drugs. Lambs are given selenium, tagged, docked, and digitally recorded when they leave the jugs.

Purebreds are tattooed once they have passed our culling criteria usually at around 6 months of age.

Record Keeping

Record keeping is vital to selecting animals as breeding stock or replacement ewes.

Ewetopia Farms currently use a stock recorder for electronic gathering of sheep data and this is backed-up with written files.

Selection criteria is determined electronically initially to monitor rate of growth, ewe prolificacy, and ram performance. This is followed-up with a visual inspection of the animal to make sure it adheres to breed standards of conformation and has no visual defects or bad traits which may influence health, breeding, and future generations.

Lambing Season

Breeding and lambing seasons occur twice a year at Ewetopia Farms.

  • Our Suffolks and remaining Texel/Suffolk cross ewes are exposed to rams in the fall for late winter/early spring lambing.
  • The Dorsets and Dordeaus are bred in the spring/summer for fall/winter lambs.

Through the use of chutes and electronic scanning, sheep are sorted into breeding groups which pair the ewes with specific rams in order to facilitate production of superior lamb traits (namely long-loined, wide-rumped, medium-sized lambs with good top-lines, conformation, rate of growth, and prolificacy).

Once rams are removed, all sheep are pregnancy scanned. Open sheep are given another opportunity to breed and bred sheep are then moved to new pens where they receive special care until lambing.

They remain in each pasture for 5 days. Each group of sheep has 6 pastures to rotate through so after a month, they are back in the first pasture. This extends the grazing season for the sheep as pastures never get over-grazed.

This is also a non-invasive method of parasite control as the sheep are off each paddock long enough to break the worms' lifecycle.

Pre-Lambing

Six weeks before lambing, ewes are vaccinated with Tasvax 8 which will pass on to the lambs in the mother's milk and protect them from certain diseases until they receive their own shots at weaning.

Two weeks before lambing the sheep are shorn. This makes it easier for the lamb to nurse and helps prevent mother's from laying on their lambs. It also helps the farmer see the condition of the ewe's udder and check for uneven bags and mastitis

Post Lambing

When lambs are born, each mother and lambs are placed in individual jugs where they are monitored closely for several days before being released into a small pen of several moms and babies.

These groups are monitored for another few weeks until they are moved to another barn with a larger group of ewes and lambs. This process continues until weaning.

The gradual transition into larger and larger groups has reduced coccidiosis in lambs to practically zero.

Lambs are sorted for market or breeding stock and ewes are put into a group to regain their condition after lactation.

And the process starts again!

Individualized Care

Hands-on care is an important part of our operation. Having friendly, easy to manage sheep benefits the flock and the handler. Most of our hundreds of sheep are recognizable as individuals and there are always a few that have won us over with their personalities.

It is these interactions with the sheep that make the long hours, heartaches, and hard decisions worthwhile and satisfying. Seeing some of the sheep move on to other farms and receiving postive feedback from those customers is the "icing on the cake"!

This encourages Ewetopia Farms to keep striving for the best in animal and customer care.