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Lambing

The Loaghtan is hardy and has good survival instincts with little
intervention generally required by the breeder at lambing time. Ewes seldom suffer difficulties in labour although a particularly large lamb may require help and possibly the assistance of a vet. The navels of new born lambs must be treated with iodine or other appropriate antiseptic spray to avoid infection entering the body and those ram lambs not required for breeding can be castrated within 7 days of birth using the elastrator method. A vet’s assistance should be sought if required.

On the Calf of Man, a very exposed rocky island off the southern tip of the Isle of Man, without any interference from humans at lambing time, the lambing average is about 90%. In well nourished sheltered lowland flocks, 150% or more can be achieved. Most flocks will have the occasional sets of triplets and ewes can be left to bring up three lambs if they have sufficient milk. As in all sheep breeds, ewes are prone to reject weak lambs. These rejected lambs can survive by being bottle fed, fed using powdered milk through a mini-suckler system, or fostered onto a ewe, even a ewe of a different breed.

Minerals and Worming

Ewes and lambs will bond quickly and when in the field together, will be self sufficient. Ewes should have access to a high magnesium mineral block in spring to avoid staggers, particularly in cases where the pasture has been top-dressed with fertilizer. All flocks
must be wormed regularly against internal parasites and specialist advice should be sought from a vet as to worming routines for specific areas. Particular care should be taken with newly purchased stock.

Weaning

Ewes will naturally reduce their milk production as their lambs are weaned onto grazing. Lambs born in March for example will generally be weaned by about August. In order to ensure that breeding ewes can recover their condition for breeding in the following season, it is advisable to leave the ewes free of lambs for at least two clear months before putting them to the ram. Ideally ewe lambs should not be put to the ram and it is better to wait until they are shearlings.

Shearing

Some Loaghtans will shed their fleeces naturally from about May, subject to the prevailing weather conditions. The majority will need to be sheared and this is likely to be best carried out in late May or early June. When suckling young, ewes’ fleeces do not “rise” early in the summer which means they do not release the
grease in their wool. This makes shearing difficult. Ewes with lambs at foot will not shear well until at least June.

Avoiding fly strike

Fly strike can be fatal and sheep must be dipped or sprayed regularly during the warmer summer months, following the proprietary brand instructions. Dirty fleeces are particularly vulnerable to maggot flies as are broken horns and the base of horns where they join the skull. Lambs must be sprayed or dipped by the end of May at the latest. Ewes are best treated about
six weeks after shearing, when they have some fresh wool.

Foot trimming

Sheep feet should be trimmed once or twice a year, depending on growth. Whilst foot rot is rare amongst Manx Loaghtans, it must be treated promptly when it does occur. Inexperienced breeders will need to seek the vet’s advice.

Vaccinations

There are a range of clostridial diseases against which vaccination is advisable and full details of these and the appropriate vaccination routines should be sought from the vet. Ewes usually need a single dose about 4 weeks before lambing and lambs need
two doses when they are about 12 weeks old.

Registration

Pedigree stock reserved for further breeding must be registered. Full details of registration requirements can be found on the Grass Roots website www.grassroots.co.uk

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