Monday, 1 February 2010

Lots of Lambs

Newly born lamb with its mother

Nature often follows cycles that in modern life we aren’t tuned in to. For example the sheep’s readiness for conception is related to both the lunar cycle and change in day length. This combination of cycles can give very precise results, as seen this year when 75% of our flock has given birth to their lambs in the last four days, so we now have 24 new born lambs running around the farm.

Group of Xalda sheep tuned in with nature.

We are particularly pleased to see all the lambs this year as the father is a new ram that was rather young at the time he was introduced to the flock.

The new young ram

Two young Xalda lambs (the new ram is their father.)

Last May we exchanged the old ram which had been with the flock for the last 4 years for this younger ram.

The old ram (photo taken 1 year ago)

Two lambs born July last year whose father was the old ram.

Normally we would only keep the same ram with the flock for a maximum of 2 years so as to prevent problems of inbreeding. However due to a variety of reasons we had not been able to change the old ram the two previous seasons, so despite being and excellent ram we were ready for him to go.

The meadow beneath the hotel being grazed by mothers with their lambs.

With in our flock of Xalda sheep (the Asturian indigenous breed of sheep) we want a diverse range of types as possible. We want to avoid selecting exclusively for one particular characteristic with the inherent danger of narrowing down the gene pool. With in the xalada race of sheep there are both white and black sheep, as well as black sheep with patches of white on their forehead. There are also sheep with slightly longer wool and sheep with different nose lengths etc. Then there are variations in characteristics which are not necessarily visible but also important, such as resistance to scrappy or tolerance to other diseases. We’ve made a decision that in our flock of traditional xalda sheep we want as much variation as possible. Variation and diversity means resilience, and for us that’s important.

Our flock with all different types of Xalda sheep and lambs just behind the hotel.

More information on Xalda sheep

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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.