We waited until the ewes were showing signs of not letting the lambs nurse, putting a leg in the way, walking off, etc. That is usually when the lambs are 10-12 weeks old, and now all the lambs are 12 weeks old. It was easiest then to separate the ewes out and put them in their own pasture, which is what we did. Their initial reaction is usually one of gratefulness for the R&R and the lambs do all the bleating, not the ewes. Then after 12 hours or so when their udders are more full, the ewes call back to the lambs. In a couple days all the noise subsides, with only occasional calling back and forth. I check the ewes once a day or so to make sure they are not experiencing excessive engorgement. If we can catch one who appears engorged, we sometimes put her on the stand with the headlock and milk her out, freezing the milk for any lambs who might need it next year. Usually this isn't necessary and if we do it, it prolongs the weaning process slightly. After 3 weeks to a month, everyone can be back together again. Meanwhile, the yearling ewes do a good job babysitting their little brothers, sisters, neices and nephews. We make sure to check for signs of worms and worm if necessary. We also check and trim hooves at weaning time. Our home-made chute is very handy for separating the mothers from the yearlings and lambs. If we wean during the heat of the summer in July, we also can leave both sexes of lambs together for awhile, which simplifies things. In the photo, our white horned yearling ewe lambs Gale and Eve babysit a bunch of lambs.
Jeanne Dukerschein loves animals and also has enjoyed lifelong interests in fiber arts, nature, and writing. In 2006, she learned to spin her own yarns and purchased her first Shetland ewe. Her poetry and fiber art, as well as her 20-year career as a freshwater biologist, carry common themes of nature, ecology, and