Rawlinshaw Farm|Zwartble and Blue Texel Sheep|DIY Livery
Rawlinshaw Farm, Austwick, 
In the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park
Preparing for Lambing Time
In the 6 weeks before lambing, the ewes nutritional requirements increase. The developing foetus' drain energy and nutrients from their mother and so to help her replenish this and stay fit, we feed "Ewe Rolls". They also require some pampering just as any pregnant lady does - a comfortable, warm bed at night and food on tap with the midwife, or rather shepherd, close at hand.

Feeding out in the fields

Let the pampering begin

  Every day, from 6wks prior to lambing, we feed the pregnant ewes. Initially this is out in the field. The ewes love their nuts and in the stampede can easily knock the shepherd over who is trying to feed them. The 25kg bags are also heavy to carry, so here at Rawlinshaw, we use a “Snacker”. We empty the required weight of nuts into the hopper. We pull the snacker with mule (our 4-wheeled vehicle) and when a lever is pulled, the door at the bottom opens and the nuts empty onto the ground.
  One to two weeks prior to lambing, we bring the ewes down closer to home. Sam likes to get the ewes used to their new regime, before they lamb, so they are not stressed at this critical time. They very quickly adapt to coming in at night to their comfortable beds. Many farmers lamb inside now as this allows the shepherd to keep a closer eye on the ewes. However, hill sheep still lamb outside on their own. We like our sheep to go out during the day time as some exercise is good for them. 
 Every week the amount of nuts given increases to match the requirements of the ewe.  3wks prior to lambing, we divide the amount given in to two feeds. This allows the ewes to utilise and digest the larger amounts more effectively.
It also gives us the chance to check the ewes twice a day. At this time, the ewes are getting quite large and are very woolly and can get stuck on their backs. This is locally known as “getting rigged” and a ewe can die very quickly due to gas build up in her gut if she is stuck in this position for several hours. We certainly don’t want that! 
We also have cameras set up in the lambing building to help us monitor the ewes so we can give any help required when they are lambing.

Watch this space for videos of the ewes lambing as it happens!