The Project Gutenberg EBook of Total Per Cent Lambing Rules, by Thomas Boylan

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Title: Total Per Cent Lambing Rules

Author: Thomas Boylan

Release Date: July 3, 2013 [EBook #43087]

Language: English

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Total Per Cent
Lambing Rules


Table of Contents

[Pg 1]

Total Per Cent Lambing Rules

Copyright 1915 by Thomas Boylan

To Those Lambing Ewes:

It is quite impossible to give rules that will cover each day all your environs, as shelter, feed and water, help, etc. However, under ordinary circumstances, the following will prove successful:

These pages being written for the one who would try, it is the object and desire of the writer to explain to the inexperienced hand, in a plain manner, the work of lambing sheep, especially under range conditions. Having made a study of the work for years, we have seen the utter impossibility of verbally explaining the many necessary details to the "new men" each year. We admit lambing ewes in large numbers successfully is somewhat of a fine art, still common sense, patience and endurance will allow any one adapted to the care of live stock—which means a person who appreciates the worth and meaning of life in any form—to lamb sheep. Common sense will permit any one to readily have at least some idea of the physical endurance, both as to temperature and nutrition, of the animal in his care. The patience which enables you to endure the inclemency of any surrounding for their welfare, is also necessary,[Pg 2] for it, too, prevents that hostile, or we might say hideous mood of mind which causes so many people to abuse live stock when it is absolutely uncalled for.

It should be self-evident to the ordinary person that life in its beginning is easily overcome by death; that nature has endowed man with a higher intellect that he may care for that life which in his esteem has sufficient worth to justify that care. A providing nature has endowed the sheep with many desires and inclinations, which, while quite clear to the naturalist, to the casual observer and shepherd often appear very contrary. That the sheep is the most contrary animal, other than the hog, is an assertion which often comes from a lack of knowledge of its nature.

True, when unintelligently selected surroundings compel you to howl, whistle, and dog it out of its natural contentment, it often becomes contrary, but this mood is forced upon it by its environs, of which the barking dog and the unintelligent and noisy shepherd are generally the greatest fault.

Allow sheep their natural contentment by leaving them to their own care whenever possible. They will then hold themselves to the herd and very seldom stray off. Tending sheep in this manner will permit them to show you their wants and[Pg 3] necessities. Provide them when you can, for it pays the owner and always lightens your work.

Although sheep will soon become used to the whistling and holloing shepherd, together with the barking dog, apparently paying little attention to them, they do, nevertheless, fret, causing them to roughen and lose in flesh. We have seen sheep become so thin by such treatment that they were actually too weak to follow the herd longer. They will always do their best to stray away from such surroundings. Sheep know the intelligent shepherd never whistles, hollos, or rushes the dog at them unless it is absolutely necessary, and they very readily mind such a person.

Surely it is not the sheep that is at fault when the shepherd selects as their pasture, during a stormy day, a bleak flat or mesa, where the sheep in their discontent are compelled to run around seeking shelter or to maintain their warmth, vexing the herder, causing him to dog them severely.


Should you have plenty of pasture, put your dropping ewes upon the lambing ground 143 days after the rams were first with them. This gives them a little time to locate, their dropping time not being up until the 145th day. If lambing upon the open range, two or three good, live[Pg 4] men to each 1,000 ewes will be necessary, while for shed lambing there should be four or five for that number of ewes. In each case the amount of help necessary depends upon the range and method of lambing. The men should have enough clothing and bedding to be out in all kinds of weather without chilling. Inform them that abusing the sheep by using the crook as a club, dogging, or otherwise, will not help you nor ease their work in the least. Truly, the man worth while in a lambing camp is "the man who can smile when everything goes dead wrong"—the man who sees many things and can find the time, the way, and the will, to better them.

Do not bed dropping ewes upon steep hillsides, where they will cast themselves during or before lambing. It may often become necessary to bed small bunches out by themselves; this gives the coyote a great chance to do his work. To keep him and other predatory animals away during the night, it is well to have firecrackers, fuse, or powder, scare-crows and lanterns on hand. To catch and chain a live coyote out upon the lambing ground has been the most effective scare-crow the writer has ever used to keep coyotes from the lambing range. As a disinfectant for bites, cuts, sores and maggots, have carbolic acid, turpentine, or some good creosote sheep dip. Marking[Pg 5] materials are also very handy at times to mark certain ewes and lambs. The remedies given here for the treatment of ailments generally found at lambing time are not those found at a drug store twenty miles away, but, rather, those camp necessities which are most always at hand. They have proven their merit and can be relied upon.


Put the best man you have with your dropping ewes. He should have a cool temper, good feet, and the will to use them. Each day he should have a sheep crook and some quarter-inch rope with him. The sheep should have salt or salt feed enough to be contented. Water them once a day during dry weather; on rainy days they will feed better when not given water. In bunch lambing, where the new-born lambs are with the dropping ewes all the time, 700 ewes are enough to the band, while if you lamb by the dropping system, where you part the new-born lambs and their mothers from the dropping ewes several times each 24 hours, you may have up to 4,000 ewes in the drop band. This is not advisable where your range is closed in or short on feed or water. Upon such a range 1,500 ewes are enough to the band. Have them bedded in the warmest places at night. In nice weather let them leave[Pg 6] the bed ground as early as possible, while in bad weather—if you have them on a good bed ground—let them remain as long as they wish. Never hold them on the bed ground in the morning by rushing them back with a dog when they are ready to leave. By so mixing the ewes you will "bum" lambs dropped during the night. On bad days put them in the warmest places, behind hills, in high brush, or any other good shelter you may have near at hand, which will keep the new-born lambs out of the wind. During warm and pleasant days let them out well in the morning hours, then hold them up a few hours on good feed, turning them toward camp and water early in the afternoon, so that the lambs dropped in the evening hours will be near camp, where they will not have to be moved.

Should your range allow you to change the bed ground each night, while the lambs are coming fast, it is best to do so. When the range is so situated that you cannot move camp each day, compelling you to move the ewes with lambs off the bed ground, so the dropping ewes may bed in the same place again, try not to move them until about the time the droppers come in around camp in the evening, say about 4 p. m. Do not move them farther than is necessary to keep them from mixing with the drop band during the night. Before the ewes bed down for[Pg 7] the night, catch all ewes that appear sick and have not been on feed or wish to be alone, not caring to follow the herd longer. Such ewes likely have a dead lamb in them. Watch for such ewes during the day and take the lamb from them before blood poison kills the ewe. Safeguard yourself and the ewe, if convenient, by disinfecting your hands before and after doing this.


This seems to be a critical time for many shepherds. Some persons become greatly provoked trying to hold the new-born lambs and their mothers apart from the dropping ewes, as the latter leave the bed ground in the morning. Shepherds who rush among the ewes and lambs, in order to move the dropping ewes off the bed ground in the morning, will make themselves much work, but will never bring out a good per cent of lambs, as ewes having dropped their lambs during the night are always somewhat uneasy and excited when the herd leaves in the morning. It is indeed the height of folly to rush among them, causing them to run away from their new-born lambs in their excitement. Allow the dropping ewes to leave at their will; do not drive them off; all ewes that have not dropped will follow the herd if you will only give them time. Should a few[Pg 8] ewes take their lambs and try to follow the herd, let them go a few hundred yards before you try to cut them back. Should there be one or two granny ewes trying to steal lambs, leave them, rather than rush among the others. Wait a few hours until the lambs become dried and the ewes overcome their excitement, before working the bed ground.

Allow all ewes that have dead lambs in them, or those unable to drop their lambs, to follow the dropping ewes off the bed ground; then hold up the herd, catch the ewes and pull the lambs from them. At this time, also, catch all ewes that may have left their lambs on the bed ground and turn them back, so they may pick them up. Look over the bed ground during the day for big-teat ewes, weak and "bummed" lambs. Should you have any "bum" lambs, mother them on ewes that have had dead lambs. It is probable that the ewes you pulled the dead lambs from would like to mother the "bums."

Keep ALL dogs away while working bed grounds.


Do not gather new-born lambs during snow or rain storms when they are in good shelter. It is always best, where possible, to leave the new-born lambs where they drop the first 12 to 24 hours. This can be done—where you have them[Pg 9] in good enough shelter for the night—by rounding up the outside of the day's drop just a little, then place a tepee with a lantern in it in the center of the bunch, a few firecrackers, with here and there a scarecrow around the outer sides, or have a man sleep near them to keep off coyotes. The ewes will generally bunch themselves by moving up around the tepee during the night. If they must be moved to shelter, or for other reasons, let the men start to move the oldest of the day's drop of lambs as soon as the droppers start back toward camp or water in the afternoon, always moving the oldest to the youngest when convenient to do so. Do not allow anyone to move lambs when wet or too young, unless it is necessary to put them into shelter. In that case, try to move them before the storm, rather than after they become wet. New-born lambs still wet, or having become wet by storm, rubbing together, sometimes change their scent, so that quite a number of their mothers become suspicious of them and will not allow them to suck until they become dried, before which time they may die. We have also on several occasions seen ewes become skeptical of their lamb after having cleaned it, simply because the lamb had come in contact with the cleanings of other ewes.

[Pg 10]

When it is necessary to move new-born lambs, move them slowly and gently to the nearest good shelter. In no case is it advisable to carry lambs around in gunny-sack-full lots. By so doing you are likely to "bum" more lambs than you save. Tie or pen all ewes that do not own their lambs until they do own them. Be sure you are putting THEIR lambs with them. When you have placed the day's drop in good shelter, when you are most sure they are well protected from predatory animals, let them remain quiet for the night. The next morning have someone move them to water. Mix them, when you have to, according to the "table" of these rules. Do not rush the bunches together; get them close to one another, then let them mix themselves. Watch the badger holes. Lambs generally crawl into holes during the cool of night, in hot, sunny days, and during cold, rainy weather.


It is always best to have your two-year-old ewes mixed with the older ewes during their first lambing. However, this should be given consideration in the mixing of the young lambs, of which the following table will give you a very good idea. Do not drop more at any one place than the table allows. Should the drop be heavier than this during the night[Pg 11] hours, cut the drop band in two for a few days. In the following table we count ewes only, and it is always best for your per cent to have less if it is convenient to keep them apart longer:

The Table.
hours old
Mixed twos
and older ewes
Old ewes
1 to 24 120 or less 150 or less
24 to 48 200 or less 250 or less
3 days or more 350 or less 450 or less

From this time on they should be left until they are the following age, when they can be mixed as follows: As ewes know their lambs by scent only during the first four to six days, it should be readily understood that it might become impossible for the ewe to find her lamb should you bunch them sooner than these tables allow, making you many worthless lambs.

Lambs 4 to 6 days old (youngest must be 4 days old), 650 to the band.

Lambs 8 to 12 days old (youngest must be 8 days old), 1,300 to the band.

The above for mixed twos and older ewes. When the herds are made up entirely of ewes past two years old use the following table:

Lambs 4 to 6 days old (youngest must be 4 days old), 750 to the band.

Lambs 8 to 12 days old (youngest must be 8 days old), 1,500 to the band.

[Pg 12]

These tables should be considered well any time you do any mixing to make up herds. Where you have good feed and water, they will prove very successful. However, as ewes can and will suckle their lambs more readily while in small bands, the development of the lamb will be much more rapid where you are not compelled to bunch them too soon. Let these lamb bunches remain quiet as much as you possibly can. If your feed is poor around the water and the ewes have to leave their lambs to find feed, do not mix so soon nor so many. It may be advisable to move the droppers along a little faster, and by so doing you will leave more feed behind for the ewes with lambs.


Lambs should be docked when from six to twelve days old, when convenient in bands of not more than 700. For several reasons it is best to trim them on a cool day before they move around much in the morning. Avoid trimming in the heat of the day. Docking lambs in old corrals is dangerous, because it is unsanitary—many lambs are likely to die if left standing in old corrals after being cut at docking time. Turn each lamb over the fence and out to pasture as you dock it and you will avoid this trouble. When you can so arrange, it is best to[Pg 13] leave these trimmed bunches where they are the balance of the day. At least do not overheat them by rushing them around, either before or after trimming. Let them rest a while.

We have used a knife in tailing lambs for years, but find they become a few pounds heavier during the summer season when seared, so advise the use of searing tongs to do the tailing. Keep these tongs red hot, so they will sear and stop all blood. To sear lambs, the docking corral is arranged the same as when you dock with the knife. You simply have an extra man, who places a stove or builds a fire to the right of the person doing the ear-marking and castrating. In this fire or stove the tongs are kept hot, and as the party doing the trimming passes the lamb to the right—the catcher still holding it—along the cutting board, this extra man has the tongs ready to part the tails. One heating of the tongs will sear and part the tails of four or five lambs. You should, however, have at least two or three pairs of these tongs. They are sold at Chicago.

If, after a few days, two or three of your largest lambs become sick, bleed them a little by cutting them under the tail stub. Use a solution of 100 parts water to one part creosote sheep dip, or the same solution of carbolic acid, as a[Pg 14] wash to swab wether lambs. This will disinfect all cuts and keep flies from them. You will also save many lambs that have been snagged, dog or coyote bitten, by disinfecting them at once, or within a few hours, with either of these solutions. In castrating young lambs, cut the scrotum or sack off about one-half inch from end, then pinch tight above the testicles and draw them. Part the tails at about the lower end of skin on inside of tail. At this time herd-mark each full band of ewes and their lambs distinctly with a separate mark, so they can be parted in case they mix with another band during the summer season.


In pulling lambs from ewes, try to attend to such ewes before the lamb is dead. Get the legs out first; pull slowly and be careful not to jerk—you may pull the lamb bed out of the ewe if you do. Should you do this, or should you find a ewe with her womb cast, it can be replaced by raising her hind parts and slowly forcing the womb back, inserting the parts until the whole womb is turned in its proper shape and is in its natural position. Tie her left hind foot to a bush, or something, allowing her six to eight feet of rope; leave her for an hour, and her pulling will keep the parts in place until they become set. Where[Pg 15] the parts have become dirty, they should be brushed clean with a clean brush or rag. Do not wash with water. Inject or insert with a soft rag a few drops of a 10 per cent solution of carbolic acid. When the lamb is in his natural position he will arrive with his head and front feet first, giving the ewe little trouble, unless the shoulder or withers are abnormally large. When the head is swollen, or one foot is still back, it is certain the ewe needs assistance at once. Nearly all lambs coming with their hind legs or tail first must be pulled; do this as soon as you notice it. Never neglect ewes laboring more than one hour. If they have not had the lamb in this time, it is absolutely necessary to take the lamb from them or it will be dead.


When a ewe has twins and is not willing or able to care for them both, try to find a ewe with a dead lamb; take the hide off the dead lamb by case skinning, cutting the hind legs off at the second joint from the foot, then open the skin between the hind legs, pull what is left of the legs up through this opening, then pull the hide back over the body. Cut off the front legs the same way, then pull the hide down over the neck to the head; cut it off there. This will cover the live lamb all except the head[Pg 16] and opening you made in taking off the hide. Over these exposed parts rub the entrails of the skinned lamb. Do not make the lamb red with blood, for the ewe may scare from it. Always put the hide on the smallest of the twins, leaving the best one with its own mother. The hide should be left on no longer than is necessary to make the ewe own the lamb, which is generally about 24 hours. In real warm weather, when flies give trouble, it may prove best not to bother with the hide method, but simply cut the entrails out of the dead lamb and rub them well all over the motherless lamb, so the ewe that had the dead lamb will take it from the scent. In most cases where the ewe has not had the opportunity of seeing or smelling her own lamb at birth, she will accept any NEWLY born lamb the same as she would her own without using either of the above methods. Nearly all ewes with much milk will take to such lambs quickly, while those with little milk are not easily "fooled." By either of the above methods it is best to keep the ewe tied or penned until you are sure she does own the strange lamb. Experienced help will generally know by the action of the ewe just when to turn her loose with her adopted lamb. Still, unless she has good feed and water while so tied or penned, she will dry up in a few days, when it[Pg 17] becomes impossible for her to mother the "bum." Extra good mothers dropping their lambs near others at times become over-anxious and claim lambs belonging to other ewes, making it look like "twins or better." Do not be fooled, but single such ewes out with their lamb and put her stolen lamb or lambs with their right mothers. GET THE RIGHT MOTHERS. Keep your twinned ewes on good feed and water, also by themselves, if you expect them to raise you two good lambs. At least try not to put them in large bunches until they are at least 10 or 12 days old.


Most deformed lambs, born with twisted legs, can be cured quickly by tying the deformed parts as near as possible in their natural position for a day or two. Lambs born with their eyelids too large may be cured by taking a pair of scissors or a sharp pocket knife and cutting a small slice or slit horizontally out of the abnormal eyelid, when they will shrink nearly to their normal size, allowing the lamb to open its eyes.

Black alkali is very deadly to sheep, and especially to young lambs. Its effects seem to be so sudden that there is little chance for a cure. Keep the young lambs away from all alkali beds and especially[Pg 18] from black alkali holes during wet weather.

White alkali is not so fatal, yet many good shepherds lose lambs by allowing them to nibble around alkali beds. Should you have some of these alkalied lambs or sheep, treat them at once by giving the lambs one-quarter cupful of vinegar, followed in one hour with three tablespoonsful of raw linseed oil. Sheep should be given one cup of vinegar and one-quarter cup linseed oil. Most sheep sick from this ailment will have a white alkali substance adhering to their nostrils.

Where a lamb has no movement of the bowels, give one tablespoonful of molasses and raw linseed oil, mixed. When troubled with too much bowel movement, give one tablespoonful ginger and flour, mixed, once each day in both cases.


See that all lambs too weak to get up are suckled. That all ewes with large udders are caught and milked out. Catch them without rushing them into a bunch of ewes and young lambs. If you can't, let them go until you can—watch for this opportunity. Tie or pen them up until the udder becomes normal and the lamb can get the teat without help. Many ewes having spoiled udders will come to[Pg 19] good milk in a few days, if milked out well two or three times daily.

When the ewe has a caked udder, or is troubled with what is commonly known as "blue bag," treat her at once—for she will die if you don't—by milking out what you can. Then mix one pint of coaloil with two gallons of hot water, wrap the udder with a heavy rag wet with this mixture; let it remain for ten minutes, remove, and rub with a mixture of turpentine and lard, or a weak solution of creosote sheep dip or carbolic acid. Repeat this treatment each morning and you will surely save the ewe in a few days. Where the ewe has her udder spoiled on one side only, the milk being good on the other, she is likely to raise her lamb. However, all these ewes should be marked, so they may be disposed of in the fall shipment. When a ewe has "bummed" her lamb because she has a spoiled udder, take the lamb from her before it becomes too weak, or dies; find a ewe with a dead lamb, then try to force the "bummed" lamb upon her as described under twins and their care.


Moving ewes and their lambs from one location to another often brings considerable loss to the owner. Where he[Pg 20] has long drives to get to his summer range, he is not only likely to lose many lambs, but will lose considerable in flesh. Lambs are parted too much from their mothers, and cannot get enough sleep while on the trail. The shepherd should do his utmost and use all the care possible to avoid dropping lambs behind, under brush, in holes, or otherwise. The best of men lose lambs while trailing from one part of the range to another; still this does not make it a necessary evil. With due care this loss can be avoided. Try to do your trailing in the cool of early morning and late evening hours. Move them gently, so most of the ewes can tote their lambs along by their side. You will get along quite well this way, for the ewes will then not trouble you trying to run back to hunt lambs. Do not overheat or weaken your lambs by continual dogging. If you must drive them rapidly, use rattle cans. This noise will not only keep them on their feet, but will scare them along much faster than a barking dog that always turns your leaders back on you. Rattle cans will always startle young lambs out of the brush much quicker than any dog when it is necessary to move them. It sometimes takes two or three hours for all the ewes in a large band to find their lambs after being trailed. Until these ewes have all found their lambs there is[Pg 21] danger of a "runback" should you leave them. Ewes will invariably become excited and run back to where they saw their lambs last whenever they miss them. Avoid this extra work, and the hardship on the ewes and lambs, by watching them until all the ewes have found their lambs whenever you have moved them. Losing lambs while trailing will generally cause the ewe to become sick with spoiled udder or "blue bag."


We have seen men try to separate ewes and lambs that have become mixed through their carelessness, or by accident, before the boss got around, causing heavy loss. Warn the men never to try this; they never, or very seldom, can part them straight. In a mix of this kind—we trust there will not be any—by all means try to leave the ewes quiet; hold them still a few hours, not too close, so each ewe can single out her lamb and become contented. This gives other ewes a chance to find their lambs without running from one part of the range to another. When these mixed bunches are not rushed and pushed around they will likely straighten themselves out with as few "bums" as possible under such conditions. Should a mix of this kind make more than a full band, the owner or foreman should put[Pg 22] a light slat corral around the bunch (this can be done quicker than moving them to a distant corral), then counting out the number of ewes over and above a normal herd. He should spend considerable time watching these ewes call their lambs out through "lamb holes" made in all parts of the corral.


To keep each bunch of ewes and lambs from mixing with another bunch; to have them in good shelter during any storm; to milk out ewes with large teats and suckle their lambs until they are able to take the teat themselves, are respectively the most important work for lambing hands. It will be well to keep the men reminded that they will do much, indeed, for you and the sheep by being "on the job" at all times. The sheep may need their attention any moment; they may mix at any time; coyotes are never all asleep; there may be a lamb in a hole that should be pulled out before the ewe loses it; a lamb may have become clogged behind and need cleaning; an oncoming storm may make it necessary to place and hold them in shelter until it has passed. A live, watchful person is worth much indeed at lambing time. A sleepy-head has little value around sheep at any time.

[Pg 23]


Although general storms are expected by everyone, they are considered an abnormal condition. Severity is seldom guarded against, which has often brought much loss at lambing time. Such storms may compel you to make many changes, depending upon their duration and severity. They will test the quality of your endurance. Stay with the ship and save the lambs. The necessary changing of position may make much extra work for everyone. Necessity is the origin of achievement. With your persistent patience, together with your best mental effort, you will come out of the storm with most of the lambs, giving you the baa! baa! as their thanks. As an illustration, perhaps the reader may pardon the following true story: Some years ago while trailing two bands of ewes upon the desert, we, by mishap, became short of camp water. However, necessity strengthened our observing power, causing us to find a ledge of rock at the side of which grew a few wild rose bushes. Here with no little perseverance we dug until we found sufficient water for camp, making a watering place for others where it was always thought impossible for water to be. Who can say, had it been absolutely necessary to water the sheep, also, that we might not have made a pump out[Pg 24] of the stove pipe, a handle out of the wagon tongue, a trough out of the wagon box, and with this invention watered the two bands of ewes also? After many years of close observation of weather conditions, during all seasons of the year, we are able to give you valuable information upon the weather you may expect SOME TIME during the seven days following any of the moon's changes. We cannot say upon what exact date certain weather changes will take place, but do state the weather that is most likely to predominate during any of the moon's phases. When the new moon in any month comes in upon his back, these storms will be more severe than when it comes in standing up. The Indian had no powder horn. When the moon is moving from south to north it seldom fails to bring warmth, while it hardly ever fails to bring cold weather upon its return from the north. You should have a reliable almanac, giving the exact time of each of the moon's changes in the standard time of your locality. A storm-glass or barometer will keep you posted 24 to 36 hours before any weather change. This may save you lambs. This table can be used any part of the year, allowing for snow in winter where the calculations foretell rain in summer. If the new moon, first quarter, full moon, or last quarter come in during the time[Pg 25] given, the weather most likely to follow SOME TIME during the next seven days will be as follows:

12 midnight to 2 a. m.—Fair days, cold nights.

2 a. m. to 8 a. m.—Cold and rainy.

8 a. m. to 2:30 p. m.—Windy or heavy rains.

2:30 p. m. to 6 p. m.—Fair and warm.

6 p. m. to 12 p. m.—Fair days, cold nights.

We have found the new moon most likely to bring an exception to this rule, still we assure you this table is worth your consideration during all seasons of the year. Keep your lambs in shelter during severe storms by reading a good almanac and watching this table.


The good shepherd is not born every day. A quiet, unexcitable mental characteristic is the utmost necessity. Nervous, excitable people become too easily angered; they will wear themselves and the sheep out with over-work and abuse, while the overly sentimental person becomes too easily disheartened; others have to do his work while he stands around telling you in a sorrowful tone how it broke his heart to see that poor twin lamb die, during which time other lambs in his care are dying from his neglect. He is the first to give up the[Pg 26] ship when "everything goes dead wrong." Most ewes, and especially two-year-olds, are very timid and easily frightened from their lambs when left out by themselves or in small bunches. For this and other reasons it is best to have few dogs upon a lambing ground, especially around the dropping ewes. If any, they should be in care of experienced men only, for whom they may head off a bad mix or find a lamb in a hole, etc. Inexperienced men never watch their dogs close enough, when the very best of dogs will scare many ewes from their lambs, even though they are not very near them. So if you can control the bunches without the aid of dogs, it will always help your per cent to do so. Again, it will be well to remind the help that they are on a lambing ground, where it takes much cool temper and many hard knocks to make things go right at times. Inform them that it is not always possible to fatten the ewes during lambing, so they will not run the drop band, or the ewes with lambs, all over the country each day looking for feed. True, they should be allowed to scatter and spread over their allotted pasture; but we once heard an owner tell a "new man" to take the sheep out on good range and allow them to "cover all the ground possible." The next day we met this shepherd (?) about three miles from his camp, dogging his sheep[Pg 27] from one part of the range to another. When asked where he was going, he answered that "the boss had told him to let them cover all the ground possible" and that he was doing the best he could to get over all the ground. Needless to say that the boss is the loser when his flocks are tended in such a manner.

The lamb needs milk, and the ewe needs feed to produce it, but the lambs also need much sleep and rest to make them grow fast. Rather have the ewes near water and upon less feed until the lambs become at least ten days old.


For early or shed lambing the following illustrations will give a good idea of the individual pens, of which there should be about 70 for each 1,000 ewes. These pens are about three and one-half feet long and 32 inches wide. The panels and gates are 3 feet high and are made of 1 by 4-inch boards; the panels being made exactly 7 feet long, and the gates 32 inches wide. At each end on both sides of the panels is nailed a 1 by 2-inch strip to space the 4-inch boards, as follows: Bottom space, 2½ inches; second space, 3 inches; third space, 5 inches; fourth space, 6 inches. To partition the panels at the center, we use 16 or 20-foot boards, as follows: Bottom space, 4-inch board notched ¾ inch on top[Pg 28] and bottom sides, at each cross section of panels; second space, 4-inch board notched ½ inch at each cross section of panels; third space, water trough, 4 inches deep, 8 inches wide; fourth space, 8-inch board notched 1 inch at each cross section of panel. The panel has a 6-inch[Pg 29] board nailed upright at each outer end. This makes the slide for the gate to pass up and down in, also holding it in place. On top of the panel notched in ¾ inch is a 2-inch strip passing parallel with the gates, but over the panels. This strip stops the gates from falling inward. As[Pg 30] there are no nails used in these top strips nor in the boards which make the partition through the center, these pens are easily collapsed and removed, should the shed be used for other purposes during other seasons of the year. To the sides are fastened gunny sacks to hold feed for each ewe. On top at center is an 8-inch walking board, over which the attendants may pass without disturbing dropping ewes in other parts of the shed. To clean the water trough when it becomes dirty there is an endless ¼-inch rope passing through the trough and over the pens; to this are attached rags or gunny sacks, which are drawn through the trough. Tacked to the top board of panel in each pen there is a small canvas sack containing three different colored small rags or flags to indicate whether the ewe claims her lamb, has twins, large udder, or is ready to turn out.


This is the lamb wagon, which brings the ewe and lamb to the shed from the pasture during the day. It is made of the same material as the individual pens above described, placed upon a low running gear, with a floor made of 1½-inch boards, with a 2 by 2-inch strip along each side to firmly hold the pens from any lateral or side motion. There are seven pens on each side, 14 in all. To[Pg 31] each gate and over the top and ends of the pens is tacked heavy canvas to exclude all rains and winds from the newly born lambs while they are being hauled from pasture to shed. Upon the range the ewe and lamb are sheltered during storms with a small "sheep tepee" until the "Pullman" arrives, which insures continual warmth for the lamb until he is placed in the shed. There is feed for the ewe in sacks in each of the 14 pens. Indicating flags or rags are hung on small nails on each gate to show the attendant at the shed, when the wagon arrives, the character of each ewe, that he may intelligently care for her and her lamb at once. The dimensions are: Length of floor, 14 feet; width of floor, 7 feet; length of panel, 6 feet 8 inches; width of gate, 22 inches; height of pens, 3 feet. This allows each ewe a space 39 inches long and 22 inches wide. Such a wagon will cost complete about fifty dollars. It will do the work for about 2,500 dropping ewes, when they are not pastured much more than one mile from the lambing shed.

The attendants at the shed, after unloading the wagon and placing each ewe in an individual pen, see that each lamb is suckled; also that the ewe has plenty of good clean feed and water until she is ready to turn out and mix with other[Pg 32] ewes and lambs, according to the table of these rules.

It may be necessary to keep obstinate ewes, that will not claim their lamb, penned for three or four days; it is not advisable to hold them longer, as they will dry up unless you have good milk-producing[Pg 33] feed. Most ewes and their lambs can be numbered and turned out in small bunches of say fifty head, after they have been in the individual pens 24 hours. They can thus be kept in separate yards around the main lambing shed for three or more days. Here the attendant[Pg 34] can watch them; should any of the ewes refuse their lambs, they can be easily picked out by their number and returned to the single pen. After the lambs are four or five days old they can be placed in bands of three hundred and removed to other parts of the pasture, where there is good shelter, or, better, where there are other small sheds that will accommodate such small bunches.


Some owners have one or two men working among their dropping ewes all night when shed lambing. These men remove the new-born lambs and their mothers from the dropping ewes as soon as they drop. This method is very hard on the ewes; it breaks their rest. After being worked this way for eight or ten nights, all ewes not in extra good condition, together with those heavy with twins, will become very weak; many of them will dry up in milk and become unable to raise a lamb. A much better system is to partition the dropping ewes off with panels each night when they come into the shed, allowing about 150 to each compartment or lot. Thus there will be but few lambs to care for in each lot in the morning; these can be readily removed when turning out the ewes. This permits the ewes to conserve their[Pg 35] strength for the sick spell, with a good rest at night.


During this lambing the sheep generally still carry their wool. This often causes the new-born lamb considerable trouble. Careless shepherds often allow lambs to suck tags until they die. It only takes a moment to remove the tags from the udder, so watch all new-born lambs when lambing "wool sheep" until you are sure the lamb has found the teat. Some flockmasters have all their dropping ewes shorn around the udder just before lambing sheep with the wool on.


After lambs become two weeks old they will begin to nibble for salt. If you do not allow them the salt they will eat any loose dirt. This may kill a few in any case. Should your pasture contain much alkali, or soil containing small quantities of arsenic matter, you are likely to lose quite a number of the lambs about the time they begin eating, as they invariably nibble for a salt substance first. If convenient, feed the loose salt in troughs only; otherwise use block salt. Allow about three ounces per ewe each week, or roughly speaking twenty pounds of salt for each one hundred ewes and their lambs per week. They[Pg 36] will require this amount only where they are on very soft, green feed. Upon the range, where there is considerable natural salt feed, or the water is strongly alkalized, they will not consume that amount. Where they are given salt at regular intervals there is no danger of over-feeding. Salt is good for the wool; it makes good healthy lambs.


Chilled lambs bring "chilled men." These lambs take the life and incentive out of many "new men" who stand around in dejected spirits, while the real shepherd does much of their work to revive and prevent chilled lambs everywhere.

There are many ways to revive the chilled lambs found upon any lambing ground. Some persons wrap them in a cloth taken out of hot water. Others wrap them well in dry rags. Some give hot milk, whiskey, brandy, etc. Either of these treatments will generally revive them. A very simple method is to take a rag or gunny sack and rub them until respiration fully returns; rub them quite dry if wet, put a very small amount of salt upon the tongue—this stimulates the heart to action by causing a light general irritation. When the lamb has enough life to take milk, suckle it just a little, not too much; repeat in an hour. When[Pg 37] the tongue of the lamb is still warm he will surely and quickly come to real life if you will kindly treat him as described. Place all such lambs in the best shelter, where they are out of the wind, and most of them will be with you when the storm is over. A little extra work at this time will always be greatly appreciated by every one concerned.


As a general thing early lambs are considerably more expensive to the producer than the late lambs born upon the open range. The ewes need extra feed through the winter months, in order that they may have milk for the young, even though there is no green grass. Yet in most cases this extra cost is justified by the greater value of the lamb at shipping time. These lambs grow and put on flesh very rapidly upon the soft young grass of the early spring months, when their mothers give so much milk. Again, as most breeders use their oldest ewes or the ones that they know will need much extra feed and care through the winter months, for this lambing, there is another consolation in the fact that should such a ewe lose her lamb at lambing time, she, too, will have advantage of that soft green feed so essential to place old ewes in good marketable shape at shipping time. Another advantage is that the[Pg 38] lamb can be taken from them during the summer or early fall months, which permits the ewe to become in good condition for the next breeding or the following winter.


In docking lambs we have had the best success when the sign was at Taurus, Neck. In breeding, we find when the ewe comes in season or heat while the sign is at Scorpio and the ram is given during her first day in, the ewe will predominate the sex. Especially is this true when the ewe is somewhat older than the ram. Should the ram be given when the ewe is going out, the sex of offspring will be nearly even.

When the ewe comes in while the sign is at Aries or Taurus, and the ram is not given until the second day, the ram will strongly predominate the sex. This is also especially true where the ram is a little the oldest and in a somewhat better physical condition.

Close attention shows us this law of nature very clearly, yet we have much to learn regarding it. Try it next season when breeding.

We are indeed aware that circumstances will not always permit you to abide by these rules to the minute. Perhaps they will save lambs even if followed only in part. Use them—try them.

[Pg 39]

Use the same mental effort to keep you out of MISTAKES that you use to get the OTHER FELLOW to straighten them.

In closing, we have tried to make the wording simple and without too much detail, which might give to a simple matter the appearance of being complicated. We would gladly be on the job, to see the boys, "the lay of the land," the feed and water, or other details. For these, and to get the most out of your environs, your judgment is always essential to bring the total per cent for which you are working, and which we so sincerely wish you.

Respectfully yours,
Thomas Boylan.

Transcriber's Changes and Known Problems.

Some words or phrases are spelled inconsistently in the original book. These have been transcribed as originally printed: scare-crow and scarecrow, every one and everyone, and any one and anyone.

P. 14: In the phrase:
lower end of skin on inside of tail
the word "on" appears to have been changed from "or" by hand on the original page.

P. 25: Changed sotrms to storms in the phrase:
during severe storms by reading

P. 25: Changed menatl to mental in the phrase:
unexcitable mental characteristic

P. 38: The phrase:
when the sign was at Taurus, Neck
is transcribed as in the original book.

End of Project Gutenberg's Total Per Cent Lambing Rules, by Thomas Boylan


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