So, summer is moving along and we're starting to think about mating the ewes. When to put the ram out? That depends on a few things, including when you want lambs to be born, when you want the lambs ready for the freezer or the market, and of course on the fertility of both ewes and rams. The gestation period of a ewe is 147 days, plus or minus 5 days, so calculate first lambs 142 days from when the ram went with the ewes, and 152 days as the last possible lamb born. We use the calendar on the computer to send us a reminder 142 days after making an entry, or you can use a spreadsheet to put in today's date and calculate when to expect the lambs. There are also some calculators available on the web that do this, but it's quite simple really. Mostly it's about being reminded close to the time!
Most ewes will breed the first time the ram breeds them (he generally isn't interested if they are not on heat), but leave him with them for 2 cycles to be sure. A cycle is 17 days, so 35 days should pretty well cover 2 cycles for all the ewes. We talked about how to determine if they are returning to service in our blog post on readying the ram for breeding. If they are returning you need to determine if it's the ewe or the ram. Usually if it's more than 1 or 2 it's the ram. It's unusual for many ewes to return unless they are very thin or have been affected by something quite serious.