Picking Your Breeding Ewes

Picking out your breeding ewes can be a daunting job, especially when they are lambs. They are all so damn cute when they're little. And if they are yearlings, will they breed or are they duds? Will that mature ewe still produce or is she at the end of her breeding years?


So, where do you start?


The obvious answer is with a breeder of the kind of sheep you want to raise. They should be able to answer your questions and provide you with a history on your ewe. Some questions to ask are:

  • Did they vaccinate you ewes?

  • When?

  • What type of vaccine was used?

  • Is there a history of prolapses in your ewes family background?

  • Are they a twin? Single? Triplet?

  • How is the milk production in your mature ewe or in your lamb/maiden ewes family history?

  • Any history of mastitis?

  • What kind of mother are they or was their mother?

  • Did they have to be coaxed into accepting their lambs or are they consistently producing bottle babies?

  • What kind of attitude do they or their mothers have when they lambed?

Next, you have to look at the conformation of your sheep. This can vary among breeds, but a good-looking sheep is a good-looking sheep no matter what their breed characteristics are.


General Appearance


A sheep should look roughly like a rectangular box with four legs posted at the corners. Ewes should look strong, yet feminine compared to the thick-muscling and masculine look of rams. There is something just eye-appealing to a well put-together sheep that draws your attention.


Head

Depending on the breed, the head can be polled, have scurs, or have horns. Research what is the breed standard for your sheep. Eyes should be wide set, bright and alert with erect heads and ears. ALWAYS check the teeth of your sheep. Does the upper and lower jaws match? This is a hereditary fault.


Neck

The neck should be strong, of medium length, and blend smoothly into the shoulder.


Shoulders

The shoulders should blend well with the neck and back. The shoulder blades should sit level or only slightly higher than the back. The shoulders should also be the same width as the middle of the back



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