Lambs docked too close
Club Lamb Folks Take Note Here Too - Especially for breeding ewes, it is most important to check the way females were docked (tails removed) as lambs. Lambs docked too close or with little to no tail structure may have a tendency to prolapse, rectally or vaginally as they carry their lambs or at lambing.
Some large feedlot won't by any 4-H, FFA or Club Lambs. Why? Because they have a high incidence of a prolapse (as high as 10-20%) in those lambs. They have 1-3% in their other lambs. Feed lots that do buy 4-H, FFA or Club Lambs buy at a significant discount to off set the lamb lost and extra feeding. Think of the profit loss.
As ewes mature, many times you will notice on the older ewes, that the dock may even shrink back, which makes the chance for prolapse even greater. It is best that your breeding ewe have a couple of segments left on that tail bone to help the muscles surrounding vital areas hold everything together. Why risk your lamb crop?
Club lambs are notoriously docked a bit shorter than some breeding ewes, and we caution the use of ewes purchased as club lambs with short docks to be kept as breeding sheep because of this and a few other reasons.
Your lamb is sold to a feedlot for $.68 per pound x 125 pound lamb x 10000 lambs = $850,000 x 20% prolapse rate = $170,000 + ($9.00 per pelt loss X 2,000 lambs) = $188,000.00 lost that 4-H, FFA or Club Lamb owners ask a slaughter house or feedlot owner to lose in profit each year.
4-H, FFA or Club Lambs that are ready to slaughter go to feed lots for the following reasons:
1. The lambs' pelts are worthless after being slick sheared for shows. These pelts are part of the profit for a slaughter house. For each lamb pelt that is slick sheared the slaughter house loses $9.00. Think of 10,000 lambs purchased. The pelt is a lost of $9.00 X 10,000 lambs = $90,000.00. They normally keep the lambs for 45-50 days to regrow the lamb wool. This is money lost to extra feed, more man hours and lambs that exceed the preferred butcher size for lamb, less money per pound.
2. 4-H, FFA or Club Lambs that are too lean. Most lambs at fairs are taken off feed 12 hours prior to the sale and on a truck for 24 hours after that. What little fat the lambs had at the fair is melted away during transportation.
3. One fair usually does not have a full truck load of lambs, 440 lambs. To take part of a load of lambs to a slaughter house is unprofitable.