Building New Lambing Jugs


barn area for sheep

The former horse feeding area, now to be lambing pens!

Now that the sheep have their new pasture fenced in, I'm thinking about what needs to be done for spring. Lambing and kidding will most likely begin at the end of February and continue through April, and the slapped-together lambing jugs I had last spring just aren't going to cut it again. I used a combination of short panel gates I found in the barn and a few of the sheep fence panels for those jugs. Everything was tied together with baling twine, and I'm very glad no one tried to escape because they could have knocked those pens down with one good push! On top of all of that, the large pen where I had these jugs needed to be cleaned out, so the "floor" was all lumpy and bumpy with old manure, hay, and straw, which meant that none of the panels were stable on the floor. Not the best situation at all.

After several brainstorming sessions and some wandering around the barn looking at the available areas, we decided the best area for the new lambing pens would be the former eating area for the horses. Way back when we had horses, my dad built partitions so each horse could eat their hay and any grain ration in peace from the others. We would throw hay down from the barn's main floor through a hatch in the floor, then fork it into each "stall" for the horses. The last horses left a few years back, and this area turned into storage for gates because we had no other use for it at the time.

Lambing jugs are usually 4'x4' – enough space for mama and babies to move around, and small enough to encourage bonding between them, especially if it's mama's first time birthing and she's not really sure what to do with that squalling little thing trying to nurse. The small size also makes it easier for me to keep a close eye on everyone to catch any problems. That's much harder to do in a large pen, or if they are lambing in the field – trying to catch a lamb once it's up and moving is not an easy task!

sheep panel for pens

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