This week the big electric fence has been completed.The hingejoint is electrified, (using clipex posts) and the bottom ofset wire is electric, with the one above an earth. The older ewes have started lambing 10 have had twins and two singles, we are determined not to lose any of these to foxes. Eagles or bad weather may take their toll but not foxes (unless we accidently lock one inside the fence).
We have also bought Fox lights which people tell us are very effective, we are trying these on the electric fence and also have a llama wandering about. Due to the amount of time it takes to train and bond a guardian dog, we will have to wait till next year before adding them to the arsenal. I read that foxes cost farmers between $200 and $300 million a year in losses, imagine what they are doing to the wildlife, apparently they eat 300g of wildlife per day when lamb is not on the menu. (We are a little fox obsessed at the moment).
Over the weekend we marked the first group of lambs, tails off, tags in, and Gudair and 6-1 injections. Much easier task when we do it early, the lambs are not as big and strong, as they are at six weeks - the end of lambing. It is also much easier to mother up and work out which lamb goes with which ewe for stud purposes.
We really noticed the impact of fox predation on the lamb numbers. All the ewes in this early lot are maidens, and many of them had twins. When we did a count it seems that a lot of ewes lost their second lamb to a fox. We baited before lambing as did our neighbour, but the fox numbers are huge. A friend went shooting in the lambing paddock, and in one night shot two foxes and saw another three lurking around. Pretty hard for a young lambing ewe to deal with that pressure.
We are now finalising a heavily electrified paddock for the next group of ewes and hope that fixes the problem. It is a hard battle to win, with forest near by, and mainly cattle producers in the district, for whom the fox is not a threat.
We started our official lambing this week, carefully planned to coinside with warming weather and spring growth. The maidens from the AI program have started, and so far, despite planning, we have had two sheep graziers alerts, with howling winds and sleet. I believe the snow on the Tinderrys was very pretty, but our perspective was coloured with a vision of tiny lambs suffering. The young ewes are coping ok, but we have lost a few lambs. Fox predation is an ongoing problem,
The National Show and Sale were held in Dubbo, NSW last week, with lots of studs hoping to make their mark in the ring. The Judging this year, the Hi Low system, ( used in South Africa) was tried for the first time. It works on the average of three judges,( in the ring at the same time). Viewing the score cards showed us how subjective judging can be when assessing animals of high standard.
The sale when very well with Dorpers and White Dorpers both selling strongly. The top price paid was for a Dorper ram - $33,000 which is going to Brazil, and an Amarula Dorper ewe and lamb went for $6750- Nice sheep.