The second week of March 2023 has proven successful. We have nine purebred Valais on the ground and all appear to be healthy with good mommas. Our second lambing is scheduled around the second week of April. We have our fingers crossed for healthy F2s and 3s.
First I want to acknowledge all of those breeders experiencing lambing. It's a stressful time. Our anxiety levels are high because we want to do everything right to make sure all goes well. Yes, we can have cameras and check on them regularly but there is always the fear that something will go wrong and we won't be there to assist and the result will be losing a lamb. A good night's sleep is not an option during lambing.
Then there is the anticipation. Male or female? Good markings? Body structure? Healthy? Will mom accept the lamb? One by one the questions get answered and the anxiety is reduced and eventually, the feeling of accomplishment soaks in, but not too quickly because watchful eyes take over. Getting the lambs on the ground is the first step, now we need to watch to make sure they're healthy and stay healthy.
Visiting the barns multiple times a day is important. Making sure the lambs have their shots, are nursing, and are active are all on the checklist. We like to have a couple of weeks of observation before we feel confident the lamb is healthy. The next step is figuring out which lambs we'll keep to grow our flock and which lambs we'll offer to sell.
We're the kind of people that don't lean towards following others. We make decisions based on our personal experience and from suggestions from people who have "been there and done that". For example, one of our foundation ewes is a purebred suffolk and we are very happy with the F1 she produced and anxiously awaiting her F2 in April. When talking with a well-known breeder in the UK, we shared that we used a Suffolk as a foundation and his response was, "I wondered why nobody was using Suffolk, they'd make a great foundation ewe". With that being said, we're going to choose a lamb with a sound structure over a lamb with good markings. Of course, our preference is both sound structure and good markings and we believe we have a number of those in our barn now.
So, in a few weeks we'll be evaluating and then sadly deciding which ones to let go. But on the other hand, fulfill someone's dream of owning purebred valais or being a part of the breed-up program. The picture-taking will begin and then we'll reach out to our waitlist (you can read our previous blog to see how that works). By then round two of lambing will start and we do this all over again!