Pregnancy is an important event in the life of any creature, both human and animal. But in some situations it happens that you need to accurately determine its presence. So, for example, people who breed sheep are interested in the timing of pregnancy. You also need to have knowledge of when and how to start insemination.
Breeding sheep requires information, funds, space, and of course, sheep. A herd of hundreds of females requires only a couple of males that have reached the age of 2-4 years.
The period of puberty in a sheep begins on average about 7 months of age (from 6 to 8). However, for healthy offspring, it is desirable that the female reaches one and a half years of age. This is due to the fact that the body is not yet ready for pregnancy and childbirth before. The time of the onset of the hunt (maturation of the egg) depends on the climatic conditions of the animal's place of residence. It usually runs from the last summer month to January. At this time, insemination can be carried out. It is possible to determine that a sheep is ready by the fact that its genitals have increased and mucus may be secreted.
An important point is preparation for mating. Animals must be healthy and receive adequate amounts of food and nutrients. Some breeds recommend trimming a month before fertilization. It must be remembered that the animals selected for this must be temporarily separated from the rest of the herd.
Experienced sheep breeders talk about the use of artificial insemination. In favor of this procedure, they cite statistics that after it the number of pregnant sheep is greater than in the natural process. Also, this method avoids closely related crosses.
How to determine?
It is possible to determine whether fertilization has been successful or whether the mating needs to be repeated with the help of a specialist. But there are also ways to find out the onset of pregnancy at home.
So, for example, the following manifestations can be indirect signs of a pregnancy:
- the animal becomes calmer (however, this is by no means always an indicator);
- a second hunt does not occur three weeks after the first.
Experienced sheep breeders determine the condition of the female's udder. If it is poured, then, most likely, it is worth waiting for the lambs.
To reliably determine pregnancy in sheep, 2 months after fertilization are counted. After that, you can independently carefully probe the belly of the female with both hands, while the person is behind the animal. In case of a positive result, the abdomen will be enlarged and asymmetrical (usually convex to the right side) due to the grown uterus. However, it must be remembered that the animal cannot be fed for a day before the determination procedure. At a later stage, pregnancy can also be noticed visually.
The use of a ram is also one of the methods for determining the weight. If you let him into the stall of the females, then only uncovered sheep will receive his attention. Pregnant individuals will remain on the sidelines, since they no longer cause excitement in the male. This method is effective already on the twelfth day after fertilization. This method is called reflexology.
In the second half of gestation, an internal examination can be performed through the rectum. In this case, the vessels of the uterus are checked for their vibration.
How long does pregnancy last?
After a successful insemination, a completely logical question arises, how many months does the gestation period in a sheep last? There is no exact answer to this question. Many factors play a role here: climate, age, first pregnancy, and so on. However, on average, sheep go pregnant for almost 5 months. Some sheep breeders call a more accurate date - the female carries the fetus for 145 days, the fluctuation in terms can be up to 5 days. During this time, you need to have time to prepare for future childbirth.
How many lambs can there be in the offspring?
If a sheep was fertilized for the purpose of breeding animals, then the owner can understandably be worried about the quantity and quality of future offspring. In order for the babies to be healthy, you should choose only healthy and strong animals for mating, and also change the male for insemination every couple of years.
Most often, there are 1-2 lambs in the offspring, but some breeds give up to 5 babies per pregnancy. However, it should be remembered that even such sheep will not give birth in such numbers every season. Animals need time to recover and rest.
Features of feeding and care
Suagging females need careful care and feeding. Before giving birth or lambing, sheep are sheared - near the eyes, udder, legs. This is done to simplify the delivery itself, as well as to make it easier for the baby to reach the nipples and milk.
An important point in the pregnancy process is proper feeding of the animal. If there is too much food, then the fetus (or several) will be too large, and the labor will be harder and longer. With a lack of nutrients, both mother and baby will be weak.
If pregnancy occurs in the summer months, then the animal will have enough of what it eats while walking in the meadow. Sometimes it is advised to supplement them in the evening with minerals, bran. It is also recommended to add table salt to the trough. Up to 15 grams per individual.
It is not recommended to feed sheep with things that can cause fermentation in the abdomen. Since this is fraught with undesirable consequences, up to a miscarriage.
The following subparts are distinguished in sheep feed.
Juicy food. This usually includes various herbs that the animal eats on its own while walking, or they can be poured into the feeder. Clover, plantain, sweet clover, nettle, dandelions, chamomile will be useful. It can also be weeds. However, it is advisable to walk at a time when the dew has already come off the leaves, as well as in dry weather, since dew and rain on the leaves or grass of plants can lead to fermentation in the stomach. It is necessary to ensure that animals do not eat a poisonous plant - hemlock, celandine or dope, even lily of the valley can lead to death.
- Root part (beets, potatoes, carrots). They have a positive effect on the composition and amount of milk in females. However, it is better to give potatoes cooked (boiled or baked), while the rest of the vegetables are good fresh. So the animal will receive vitamins, and a delicacy. They are especially good in winter, when there is no fresh grass, and the bulk of the food is hay.
- Melons and gourds. Sheep are very fond of them, it is also a source of vitamins and milk from animals.
Rough feed. Animals usually get it in the winter season, when the juicy is gone.
- Straw . A pregnant female should eat an average of half a kilogram of straw per day. It is not worth giving a lot of straw to the animal, as it contains few nutrients and useful substances.
- Hay . The hay accounts for half a kilogram of cereal nature, as well as about 300 grams for the hay of legumes. Hay can be harvested from different plants, for example, wheatgrass, clover, sweet clover.
- Mineral supplements. One animal needs 15 grams per day. It can be chalk, bones crushed into flour, ordinary or iodized salt, special additives "Felucene".
- Cereals and compound feed - up to 300 grams per day.
Do not forget about water - it must be fresh, in sufficient quantity, at a comfortable temperature. Change it at least 2 times a day.
The main part falls on juicy feed - it is about 3 kilograms. Of course, the amount of food depends on many parameters. This is the breed of the animal, its weight and age, the number of fetuses, gestation period, climatic and weather conditions, as well as the season.
It must be remembered that a few days before the birth itself, the female may refuse to eat and look for a secluded place. You shouldn't force her. Better to make the final preparations.
How to prepare for lambing?
Preparation for childbirth is that from the moment of mating and determination of pregnancy, you need to observe the animal. Experienced sheep breeders recommend keeping a diary, in which they indicate the dates of fertilization and expected birth. It should be borne in mind that on average, the severity lasts 145 days. However, in some sheep breeds, it may last less; also the term is reduced if there are several lambs.
Ten days before the expected lambing, you need to prepare the delivery room, where the birth will take place and the mother and baby will be. Lined with fresh straw, provide a temperature regime (up to 12 degrees with a mark +, while the humidity does not exceed 80%).
The female can be transferred there as soon as the behavior of the animal changes.
For a couple of days, the female can become restless, shun the rest of the herd, refuse to eat. You also need to trim the hair: near the eyes, on the inner thighs, around the anus and udder.
Usually a sheep gives birth on its own. However, if labor is delayed, then the person can take part. It is desirable, of course, to have an experienced sheep breeder nearby, and preferably a veterinarian. In this case, obstetrics are performed. After the birth of a baby or several lambs, it is important to remember about the appearance of the placenta. He must appear on his own. This may take about 3 hours. It cannot be pulled, dragged or cut off. He must come out on his own entirely. Then you need to remove it from the sheep.
If within 6 hours his birth did not occur, the lamb should be urgently taken to a doctor, it is possible with a lamb.
See the video below for sheep lambing.