Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The creep is....creepy!

One of the frustrating things each lambing season is the creep feeder. A creep feeder is made for the lambs to have access to grain in an area where the ewes can't enter. The ewes would eat until bursting whereas the lambs will just nibble so they can have 24/7 access to grain without any concerns.

I don't have a commercially made creep feeder, I just create one each year. And it evolves each year, a change here a change there. Not too many changes this year, same entrance panel, same part of the lambing pen. I did use the hay feeder as part of the perimeter which is new. Thats something I call lazy creativity :).

See the frustrating part is I put all this time and thought into creating the creep pen but getting them INto it is a challenge. Its all nice and neat and tidy and ewe proof (hopefully). Has a cute little lamb sized trough nailed to a raised board to keep them from climbing around in it (and pooping in it). They have their very own lamb sized water trough, shallow enough they won't drown...because you know they'll get IN it, they get in or on everything.

However, they have yet to ENTER the creep. Apparently the creep is creepy. Last night I went out and sat in the lambing shed, trying to figure out how to entice them into it. They're curious beasts so I needed to somehow make it interesting and mysterious. So I tossed in some fluffy hay, they seem to like fluffy hay. Nope, that didn't do it. Tossed in a mineral tub. Nope, not mysterious enough.

Then I realized I was using cattle panels as their entrance to the creep pen. Basically I just cut out a couple of cross pieces so the lambs can fit through but the ewes can't. But they can't see the openings and thats always been an issue. Last year I think I taped up some feed sacks on either side of the opening to make the openings more obvious and that did work. I only needed to leave the sacks up a day or so but I still had to toss lambs in, they didn't go in on their own.

I didn't have any feed sacks handy but I did have hay and lots of it. So I stacked hay on either side of the openings on the inside of the creep pen. Sorta made alleys with the hay. I tried it out with Flo and Alice and they eagerly came in. They're not terribly interested in grain yet so I couldn't get them to eat any and once they realized no milk was on the menu, they quickly exited.

I was too tired to do anymore so I'll be interested to see if anyone wanders in today. Hopefully they'll find the feed, the older lambs are eating next to their mothers at feeding time so they have a taste for it. Fingers crossed and hope for success!

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