Saturday, 5 July 2008

Late Lambs; unpredictable nature

Lambing time on our farm normally peaks in the first or second week of January. We sometimes get our first lamb born as early as the first week in December and “first timers” (one year old sheep which give birth for the first time) can give birth as late as March. I believe that in natural systems the lambing period is predominantly a day length response which affects the sheep’s hormone levels and the onset of the conception period. As the day length decreases so the conception period starts. The sheep’s gestation period is about 5 months so our early January lambing peak corresponds to mating in early August when day lengths are noticeable shortening.

So what a surprise we have had this last week when ten sheep have given birth to their second lamb this year. All we can assume is that the very good winter weather this year has some how influenced. The locals have told us that what we need to be careful of is that when the mother calls her new lamb, the elder sibling born 6 months earlier doesn’t come and feed from the mother thus depriving and possible starving the new born lamb!

In the photo you can see a white mother with her new black lamb expressing concern about me photographing her lamb!

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Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.