“A short pencil is better than a long memory” - Sheep & Goats [Skip to Content]

Sheep & Goats
Illinois Livestock Trail
“A short pencil is better than a long memory”
by A. Richard Cobb

As a producer, you should live by the above statement. You need be aware which of your ewes are performing well, or failing in you particular environment. Keep good records and write down anything that happens that can affect a ewe's ability to contribute in a positive way to the over all production of your flock. While many producers do keep records, they do not always use them.

Right now is a critical time to review your records, and turn healthy, productive ewes onto pasture. This can help to reduce health problems in your flock. In addition, why should cull ewes have access to grass? By eliminating them before pasture, or as soon as you can, you will have more feed for your productive ewes. This will allow them to regain the weight lost raising strong, healthy lambs. It will also allow you to keep your productive ewes on pasture for a longer time in the fall and thus reduce the cost of feeding them.

Consider culling any ewe that has not lambed for two years, has had difficulty lambing more than once or has failed to raise a lamb. You should also cull any ewe that is stupid; mean, high strung, or does not take good care of her lambs. She will continue to act the same way next year, and chances are high that her daughters will act the same way.

Ewes with health problems should also be culled. The statement that "A sheep's worst enemy is another sheep", is justified in the case of a ewe with a chronic infection such as Mastitis that is allowed to remain in the flock. This means that you must be observant of your flock while they have lambs on them and after they have been weaned.

Ewes that are thin at weaning are often our best producers. If you keep good records you will know who they are and will not cull them. Older ewes should be looked at closely and a decision made on each of them. I know that we can develop feelings for "special sheep" in our flocks. If they are thin, then maybe you should separate them, worm them more often, and check their teeth. If they do not respond to this treatment, you should cull them or make the decision to not breed them. I know that may be counter to the message of this article, but it is your decision as to what you do with them.

In summary, producers should keep records and use them for the betterment of your flock; however you as the producer define betterment.

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