Each spring, we welcome around 5,000 newborn lambs on the ranch.
Our pregnant ewes are brought to the corrals at the main ranch in Dillon where they will feast on a mix of alfalfa hay and silage until they are ready to give birth. Most of our ewes have twins–though triplets are not uncommon– and once a year there’s usually a quad.
Once a ewe lambs, we bring her inside the barn with her newborns to ensure them all a healthy start. The first 48 hours of a lamb’s life is critical. Within five minutes it can stand up, and it’s very important that it nurses within its first hour. The lambs don't have a developed immune system when they are born so they need to receive essential nutrients and antibodies from their mother’s rich colostrum.
The lambs are kept in a pen called a “jug” with their mothers before mixing with other ewes and lambs. This helps the mothers keep track of their lambs when they are put in larger groups. The ewes have the ability to recognize their lamb’s voice even through a crowd of thousands of others.
The lambs and ewes are then moved into a pen with 30 other mothers and babies where they will stay for 2 weeks while the ewes recover from lambing. They are then turned out to pasture in groups of 250 for a couple more weeks.
By July, the lambs are eating grass on their own while still nursing. By then, weighing in at around 40 pounds, they are strong enough to head out on the Sheep Trail with their mothers in bands of around 1,000 sheep.