Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jacob Lambs: I have questions! Do you have answers?

We acquired our two Jacob ewe lambs in early spring. They are our first Jacob sheep and were actually our first lambs on the farm. They initially went in with the goats but they got butted and shoved around a lot, so we eventually transferred them in with the sheep. They still got butted and shoved around a lot, so they ended up in a smaller size pen with our small angora goat who is relatively timid, and our Nubian with her baby who was born in late May. In there, they held their own and have done well, although they seem to have grown very slowly. I think it's possible they were separated from their moms too early, but we didn't know much back then and the seller seemed to think it was fine. We were taken in by their sweet little faces.
So, yesterday we decided to put them back in with the rest of the sheep. They had gained some size and were doing well, so we thought it was time. When I picked up Penguin, I realized she had some clumpy bits of fleece around her head so I went to brush them away, and I realized her fleece was ready to roo. (For my non-sheepy readers, rooing a sheep is essentially shearing it by pulling out the fleece by hand rather than cutting it - only some breeds of sheep naturally lose their fleece like this). So, I rooed her, and she looked much smaller. Her friend Pennyroyal has also begun to roo, but not as much, so I did not get as much fleece out of her.
Here's the aftermath. Looks like a little fleece explosion, doesn't it?
So I have a few questions now:
1) Is it normal for Jacob lambs to roo at about 6 months of age?
2) If the answer to 1 is "no," then can anyone suggest why this might be happening and what I should do about it?
3) Is it normal for Jacob lambs to weigh only about 35-40 lbs at 6 months of age?
4) If the answer to 2 is "no" then what should we do?
5) Will they now grow in a winter fleece and will it roo in the spring or will we need to shear them?

When I was trying to roo Pennyroyal, I noticed that her second horn buds have developed into these little curls. They are relatively loose, which I think makes they qualify as scurs. Am I right about that? If yes, should we try to remove them or will they fall off by themselves. The only reason I'm concerned is because of the curl diameter - I don't want them to grow into her head.
I gave them a belly rub post rooing, just for good luck.
Of course, I never kiss my sheep on the lips. What do you think I am - crazy?
You can see that Pennyroyal is much fleecier than Penguin now. I think her fleece will come out too though, because it has started to do so. Their little black bottoms are soooo cute!
They seem to be OK with the other sheep although they are still getting pushed around a bit. I will give it a week or so and see if they adapt. I just worry because they seem so small. Here, for example, is Penguin (born in February) next to Cream Puff (Poppy's ewe lamb born in May).
Not that Poppy is that big herself, so Cream Puff is doing fabulously well. They both look grand to me!
Sven says "I'm still the most beautiful sheep on the farm." Of course you are Sven!


Outstanding Stranger said...

Thank you for the lovely view into your life with your cute little sheep. They look so sweet and tame. The love and care you give them shows. Hugs, Diane

Michelle said...

I'm going to share this link with a couple Jacob breeder friends; hopefully they will have some answers for you. I was not aware that Jacobs roo, but I do know that any sheep can have a break in the wool due to stress or illness - both of which could be explanations for why they are so small.

angie said...

I have no answers to your questions but I thank you for posting them and will look forward to others' answers as a learning experience.

Would love to see an updated photo of Luna sometime...

Kenleigh's Fiber Studio said...

Hi Claire - No, Jacobs shouldn't roo. I would agree with Michelle that it could be a break in the fleece due to stress or illness. They looked really little when you first brought them home. To me, they looked like they were probably a month old. That could contribute to their small size and stress. I would agree that they have some scurs for side horns. They will probably end up falling off/getting bumped off, but if they start causing problems then you can pull them off or cut the end. I'm not really sure you can do anything about their size at this point, my guess is that they are a little stunted due to being weaned early. I'm sure they will end up catching up eventually, but it may take awhile. Good luck and feel free to send me an e-mail if you have any additional questions! Sven is a handsome boy ;)

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

I don't know anything about sheep but enjoy checking in on your blog.

Christy said...

I'm glad to see that others answered. I too did not think that Jacobs roo. Mine needs shearing and grows a really, really thick fleece. I'm thinking I should shear her twice a year with the heat here.

Could they be a mixed breed?

Anonymous said...

Hi Claire,

Michelle asked me to stop by but I'm glad Shannon answered your questions. I have never seen a Jacob roo and like someone else mentioned, usually have really thick and nice wool. I do have a little lamb that was orphaned early and he is very small as well so I am guessing your girl's size is based on being weaned way to early. But it looks like they are in very loving hands, and how fortunate they are for that!

Claire said...

Thank you all for the helpful comments. I am somewhat sad that they do not roo, because that means they must be stressed or ill. The thing that gets me is, the wool grows from the bottom, so, if they are just rooing now, the break is in the newest (i.e. closest to their body) part of the wool, not the old stuff, which was furthest out. Right? So does that mean they are stressed or ill now? Or is it some sort of after-effect from their early weaning? I do want to make sure I do the best for them that I can!

Mom L said...

You know I can't give you any advice (unless it's about cats!), but I can say they are beautiful! Yes, Sven, you are the most beautiful, but the wee ones are gorgeous, too!!

Nancy in Iowa

IsobelleGoLightly said...

What gorgeous sheep! Of COURSE you must give them kisses! If sheep lips are as nice as goat lips then that's just fine. Goat lip kisses from Isobelle!

Flartus said...

You and your adorable lambs. I hope they do ok; don't want you stressing out and starting to roo, too! (My new word of the day; I'll see if I can't work it into my conversations...)

Unseriously, those are some of the cutest little lambie pics; I like Penguin's sleek post-rooing look.

Nancy K. said...

With the love you obviously shower those little lambs with, I am sure that they will soon BLOSSOM!


thecrazysheeplady said...

I am going to chime in and agree with the other Jacob folks. I wouldn't worry about the horns - they'll 'fix' themselves - and I think they'll eventually grow up, but may not get to their intended potential, but will end up with nice fleeces under your good care and provide years of enjoyment :-). The only thing I can add is you might go ahead and shear both right now to remove the questionable fiber so whatever you are able to get next spring will be solid. Good luck!

Earthenwitch said...

Those horns are gorgeous (not the ones which might need to go). Sheep with horns and tails are my favourites, and curly horns get bonus points, obviously. Hope it's not that they're stressed/unwell now; surely with all the love and attention they're getting, they'll pick right up soon.