Monday, March 14, 2011

Tagventory Day: Figuring out This Year's Perfect Ear-Tagging System

Every year I do this, sort through the old ear tags that I have remaining, count them, and figure out how many more I need.

This is done each year in conjunction with my current Perfect Ear-Tagging System.

My perfect system depends on each animal having 2 tags-- one numbered tag, and one tag, purchased blank, which has the animal's name written on it with a tag pen.

I've been buying Premier One Easy-Tags, size two, in a wide variety of colors to indicate things like birth year, single/twin status, breeding group.... And every couple years I scrap the system and start a new one.

It's the same this year, but now I'm going for simplification. My major problem with the tags is that they are hard to read from a distance--- and boy, do my girls know how to keep their distance when I'm looking at their ear tags!

I've decided to go with a baby tag system this year--- lambs will be tagged with a size 1, pink or blue numbered tag. When they get to weaning age, (or some point afterward) the baby tag will be replaced by a size 5 adult tag--- the next size larger than the size 2 tags I have been using.

In place of the many colors I've used, I'm down to 2--- yellow for purebred Shetlands, and blue for Shetland-Dorper crosses. No, wait, the government owns the color blue (on scrapie-numbered eartags, anyway) and so I've had to order lime-green instead.

The hand-written name tags and the number tags will be the same color. (I'll also be writing the name and number on the underside of the hand-written tags, in case one of the girls loses her numbered tag and her name tag is faded.)

I do have a lot of spare numbered tags, and I do plan to use them up. Single (non-twin) lambs will be getting the old tags until they are gone. This will remind me to not get so attached to the singles that I keep them for breeders instead of the twins.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Moonshine, our new herd sire

I got Moonshine last fall from a breeder in lower Michigan, and am quite pleased with him, adds a little diversity to the herd since I usually use my sires I bred myself since I am trying to preserve the good shedding genetics I have in my herd (I have some purebred Shetlands that shed their fleece just as well as the ones that are 1/2 to 3/4 Dorper).

It was an eventful trip down to pick Moonshine up. Some guy in the parking lot of a Tractor Supply store wanted to sell me some sheep thinking I was a professional livestock dealer, and then there was the fun of trying to smuggle my new sheep back into the UP. The inspector guy says, whaddaya got? and I say, Moonshine....

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Robert Emery pictures--- last year's herd sire

Robert Emery, 2007
 Robert Emery was all golden when he was born. I was very surprised. But last year I had quite a few lambs sired by Robert Emery who were born that exact color.  They turn white as they become adults.

Robert Emery, Claudius

When I took Robert Emery in the house to take some lamb pictures, my neurologically disabled cat Claudius came over to be in the picture. Yes, the cat is wearing a dog sweater.

This is a picture of Robert Emery taken today, Mar. 13, 2011. Boy, does he ever need a haircut! He's penned with Rhys, Rei, Moonshine and Sharkey. Used to have my Dorper ram and 2 Dorper cross rams lambs in there with them, but had to move the Dorpers out to keep 'em from getting murdered by the little guys--- Shetland rams are WAY tougher than Dorpers even though Dorpers are bigger.

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