I LOVE to watch the sheep shearer with the ewes. EWE might too! You can watch our ewe-tube on the you tube link below!
WHY shear pregnant ewes in February when their lambs are due in April? What’s the UPSIDE of removing warm woolen winter coats in February when snow could fall again before lambing? It’s not “sheerly” obvious, but there’s an UPSIDE to haircuts in the cold.
The ewe is less prone to a pregnancy toxemia similar to diabetes, also called “sleepy sickness.” This dangerous illness occurs when the ewe does not eat enough and uses her body fat as energy for the lamb she’s carrying, thus producing toxic ketones. Not good for mother or baby.
The ewe’s metabolic rate increases making her hungrier. Eating more means the newborn lamb is bigger and healthier and weighs more.
Newborn lambs have a better survival rate in cold weather because a shorn ewe will be cold and seek out a warmer birthing inn for her wet newborn.
Newborn lambs can find teats instead of tufts. I’ve watched many a newborn struggle moments after birth to find nourishment from the woolly underside just when it needed it most.
Newborns receive milk with a higher fat content, meaning better nutrition for the baby. A ewe that’s been sheared when the weather is cold, produces what is sometimes called “brown” milk.
So, what’s the UPSIDE of having a winter haircut? Probably nothing for YOU! But for EWE and newborn lambs it’s beneficial! Stay tuned for more UPSIDE as we move into Spring lambing and sign up for the MORE TO THE STORY twice-monthly e-mail newsletter to follow more behind-the-scenes activities.