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1sheepdoggal

Banding Ram Lambs

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My ram lambs are starting to get some age on them, respectivly 3 and 4 weeks old. I want to keep these fellas and make them wethers. I asked another person about when would be a good time to band them ( as Ive always sold my ram lambs intact and never kept any) and she said she bands her's any time from the day they hit the ground up to three days old. That sounds aweful young to me. When do you all band your ram lambs, and how old is to old? They only weigh about 10 to 12 lbs right now.

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Darci,

I try to band mine when they're less than a week old. In the UK, it's the law that you can't band a lamb over a week old. It's believed that it's less painful the younger they are. I have an unbanded two-week-old at the moment because I can't get his testicles down far enough in the scrotum to safely band him. I may leave him intact or I may have the vet cut him and castrate him that way. But generally I try to do mine by the time they'd leave the jug (i.e., three days), whether they're actually jugged or not.

 

J.

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Thanks Julie. Wow, that just seems so young. Poor babies. So if I get them banded this week, do ya think they'll still be ok to do? I remember on the dairy farm, that calves were off bottles and buckets long before they were banded, so with that in mind, I figured Id have more time with the lambs. Though I have heard that the younger they are, the better. Just didnt realize they meant that young.

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I always try to do it within 24 hours of birth. Less risk of infection (simply less flesh there to get infected), less trauma (smaller blood supply), plus it's easy to catch the newborns. There is a knack to castrating neonates, but once you pick it up you'll be able to do it in your sleep. Which is good if you lamb out a large flock. Of course, you don't want to castrate at a time that will interfere with the critical bonding of mother and lamb, or with the lamb's first belly full of colostrum.

 

Personally, I think yours are too old to do by elastrator now, but there are others who disagree. And I'd also be surprised if a four week old ram lamb weighed as little as 12 pounds, unless it started out at four or five.

 

At four weeks of age, you're really pushing the limit of their passive immunity to tetanus (assuming the dam was boostered before lambing). If you wait another week, I think you really should -- at the very least -- administer some tetanus antitoxin at the time of banding. But really, you should consider a different method, such as burdizzo or surgery, for lambs this old.

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Thanks Bill, yep, they really are only about 12 lbs right now, and yes, they did start out at about 5 to 6 lbs at birth. The rams were smaller than the ewes this go round, but these little fellas are twins out of first time ewes. They were small, but hardy. Your probably right about them being to old at this point to band, I got to looking at them today and wondered. Surgery, I understand, but Ive never heard of Burdizzo. What is that?

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A Burdizzo crushes the cord - I have a Burdizzo (er, somewhere) that someone gave me but I've never found anyone who can show me how to use it. It looks pretty scary but I've heard from a vet that it's better than elastrating - both in terms of being less dangerous (little to no infection and tetanus risk) and also once you learn how, more foolproof. That's what I've heard, anyway.

 

I try to band right around 28 to 36 hours old - I want them to get all the colostrum they are going to get first, but they are still catchable. I also find it's much easier to band them at that age rather than when they are older - they tend to suck them up more when they are older - I guess they are more aware of what's going on and more scared of being handled.

 

The tails are actually a much bigger deal since that hurts like the dickens no matter when you do it. That's why I wait a bit - they actually lie down a good bit for an hour or so and I don't want that happening that first 24 hours.

 

It also means I handle the lambs twice in a 24 hour period and that's good for pasture lambing. I don't even jug ewes that are doing fine, as long as it's not absolutely freezing or pouring down rain. But I do take hay and water to her and check several times the first day.

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I am trying to decide if I am going to band my cross bred ram lambs. In the past, I have always banded them, but last year, I only banded the bottle baby who went on to be a pet. I didn't have any trouble selling intact ram lambs for meat this summer. What are the pros/cons of castrating vs. leaving market lambs whole? I've got until tomorrow to decide on the first one :rolleyes:.

 

Emily

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The biggest con I found with leaving the rams intact was that I had to provide a separate pasture for them, which meant more work for me WRT feeding, watering, etc. (we had to feed hay because of the drought). I didn't get much more for them, despite the fact they were "perfect" for the muslim market (I could do better marketing, but that's another issue)--not enough to make the extra work required to separate them from the rest of the flock worth it, but then I'm all about less is more when it comes to the input I have to give.

 

J.

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I agree with what Julie's list of pros and cons. From what I've found selling a few thousand lambs into the ethnic market is that there is no premium paid for entire ram lambs, although many will tell you that's what the market wants. Unless and until there's a market signal that it's worth the extra work keeping ram lambs separate from ewe lambs, I'll pass.

 

The one thing in favor of keeping ram lambs entire is that they do tend to grow faster with the additional testosterone until they start to reach puberty. Then the extra growth goes into undesirable secondary sex traits like big shoulders and neck. And of course, the tackle itself. With some breeds of sheep, this will start to happen before the lamb's frame is filled out -- ie, before he's finished. If you sell your lambs through a sale barn at less than finished weights, you can usually expect to have entire ram lambs discounted for this reason (as well as the pain in the butt factor of having to pen them separately in the feed lot).

 

However, if you have a breed that will finish with appropriate cover before it reaches puberty and you're prepared to feed hard enough to meet that goal, you might see some benefit to keeping ram lambs entire. You'll still get slightly less for them at the sale barn, but if you're selling direct that's not a consideration.

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Thanks Bill and Julie!

 

Since there's no significant benefit to keeping ram lambs, I'll go ahead and band.

 

Emily

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Hi Mona, The pic didnt come through. I looked for one in a couple of mags today that were avalible at work that has products such as that, but couldnt locate one as of yet, but thanks. Any suggestions as to where I can order one would be appreciated.

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Thankx. I'll check it out. Pic came up now, dont know why it didnt earlier.

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I can't remember where I got mine. Shop for one that has no gap where the top

and the bottom jaw come together. No gap where the two points on the top meet

on the sides of the bottom piece. If there is a gap the cord may slide into and

avoid being crushed. Also make sure you get one for lambs not cattle--they are

huge!

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Thanks for the tip Mona, I wouldnt have known there was a difference.

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Last year when I was helping band, there was some question as to which of the triplet ram lambs we were asked to NOT band. We were pretty.... sure..... So, when the future owner showed up, we showed her, and the farmer said "we just did it, so we can undo it".... Yikes. But, we were right. (PHEW)

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Thanks again for that link to Premier Supplies. I just ordered one of the burdizzo's, and it says I can use the device on lambs up tp 90 days old, so there shouldnt be a problem with my little guys. Do you all reccomend going ahead and giving a tetanus antitoxin when using this device?

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Yes on the tetanus. It can cause abrasions so better safe than sorry.

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Thanks Becca.

I wonder what the chances are of me getting the hubby to do this for me. I can cowgirl up for most things, but Im not so sure this will be one of them. I think its the word "crush" that has me spooked. Im more use to fixing things, than breaking them.

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. Im more use to fixing things, than breaking them.

 

 

That made me laugh!

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For those who use the burdizzo, what do you like about it over banding?

Thanks,

A

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We band our calves and always banded our buck goat kids except once (and did them at one week of age, when we disbudded). I wouldn't use a burdizzo again after seeing the vet use one on two part-grown buck goat kids that we had. For some reason, I found the crushing much more disconcerting than banding or cutting, and the young goats certainly seemed to agree with me, judging from their reaction.

 

I think banding is far and away the most humane alternative and the safest, when done properly, of course. JMO.

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I vastly prefer to leave the lambs intact. They grow faster than the wethers and I seperate off the ewe lambs anyway.

 

When I do castrate, my preferred method is now the Richey Nipper that Premier sells. It is similar I think to the Burdizzo, but used before 3 weeks and just crushes the cords. You clamp once on each side - no blood, wound, or fuss. And no tetanus risk!

 

When I band I don't do it until the lambs are at least 10 days. They have much less set back that those I band younger. Certainly they keep up with the ewes much better. I tail dock between 3-10 days.

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If you use the elastrator when the lambs are 15 to 30 hours old, there is virtually no check. Sometimes a particularly big lamb will have some discomfort and not want to walk for 5 to 10 minutes, but most don't miss a beat. A decent maternal ewe will keep track of her lambs for that long with no problem. FWIW, I think that tailing with the elastrator causes more discomfort than castrating, but both procedures are pretty well tolerated by young lambs.

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