Saturday, 23 April 2016

Raising Lambs


Lambs 2 weeks old on the HenSafe smallholding
Lambs at 2 weeks old

Today we collected this year’s lambs! They had but a 5 minute journey to get here and within 20 minutes of settling them in we had help from our “smaller” neighbours with their first bottle feed, after permission from mum and dad of course.
The weather here is unseasonably cold at night (and forecast to be cold both day and night next week) so we have surrounded their shelter with extra bales of straw for insulation and covered it with a tarpaulin for waterproofing. The pallet slides across to secure them overnight and the whole thing faces away from the prevailing wind.
Today they’ve been enjoying the sunshine though, and we’ve been enjoying their antics, which is the upside. They are around 2 weeks old on average and will need 5 bottle feeds a day for the first few days, reducing to 4 in a week or so. We now appear to be taking bookings for bottle feeding!
Lambs on the HenSafe smallholding
The lambs exploring their new home
Which brings me on to the question of why we do this in the first place.
Some of our friends have said things like “how could you do it, raise them as pets, bottle feed them and then kill them to eat…don’t you get attached to them?” Well, yes, in their early days it could be easy to get attached without trying very hard at all! They are very cute but, and it’s a big but, they are not pets. We do this so we know where our meat is coming from, how it’s been raised, and we give the animals as good a life as we possibly can while they are with us. The commitment of raising them through the summer is one we enjoy. Yes, it is hard to take them on their Final Journey but at this stage it’s a long way off and we can prepare for it.
I remember vividly the first time we took our finished pigs to the abattoir… a farmer was waiting in line with his small trailer. He must have sensed my emotions when he gently said to me, “Is this the first time you’ve done this?”, “Yes” I replied. “It does get easier you know, second time around” he reassured me.
 
Learnings:

Be prepared for April showers, wind, snow and hail.