Oregon Sheep Growers - Lamb School

Lambing School

Saturday, January 20, 2024

8 am to 5 pm

Mont Alto Ranch, 2800 French Creek Rd, Glide, Oregon

Presented By:

Dr. Paul Bailey, Bailey Veterinary Clinic

Gene Pirelli
Josh Sutch
John Fine

This is an excellent opportunity to learn how to increase your odds of getting live lambs on the ground and off to a good start! Emphasis will be hands-on experience, with additional instruction on sheep health and facilities.

$50 per person, includes lunch. Class is limited to 12 participants. Selection will be based on the first 12 registrations received, with preference given to those attending for the first time.

Registration Deadline is Jan. 8, 2024
Once the class fills, we will establish a waiting list. Fees will be returned if the class is full. If cancelling, please notify us four (4) working days prior to the school. Refunds for cancellations will only be paid if the class position can be filled.

For more information, please contact John Fine 541.673.0369 or johnandpeggyfine@charter.net.

2024 Registration Form

Program Description:
Lambing (the birth of lambs) is a critical time for sheep farms. It is the culmination of months of feeding and care for ewes. A vigorous, healthy lamb means the process was successful. Eighty percent of lamb losses occur during the first 10 days of life and good shepherding helps to reduce these losses. Lambs can suffer from starvation, hypoxia (lack of oxygen) due to a difficult birth, or low body temperature due to cold conditions.

There are a number of techniques that are used at lambing time to increase the number of live, healthy lambs. A workshop designed to teach sheep producers these techniques is called a “lambing school.”

Oregon lambing schools began in 1984 at sheep operations near the towns of McMinnville and Turner. The schools were initiated by Gene Streight, agriculture instructor at Chemeketa Community College and Gene Pirelli, Oregon State University Department of Animal Sciences. Dr. Don Hansen, OSU Extension Veterinarian was the third member of the original lambing school instruction team. When Gene Streight retired from Chemeketa Community College in 1990, Jim Thompson, OSU Extension Sheep Specialist joined the group as one of the instructors. Dr. Charles Estill replaced Dr. Hansen upon his retirement in 2007 as Extension Veterinarian and a lambing school instructor.

Oregon Sheep Grower Association (OSGA) members were instrumental in making the lambing schools a successful program. Charlie Sitton, a member of OSGA, hosted the first lambing school at his 1200 ewe operation near McMinnville. John Fitzpatrick, formerly with OSU Extension, hosted the Turner school at his sheep farm. From 1987 to 1998, OSU Extension faculty Randy Mills and Bill Broderick had a lambing school at the Kreb’s Ranch at the invitation of Clint, Maureen, Skye and Penny Krebs, also OSGA members. With the assistance of other OSGA members, lambing schools sprung up in Douglas County at the Steve Trout ranch, in Coos County and at the OSU Sheep Center in Corvallis. Amy Peters and Shelby Filley – OSU Extension Faculty organized the Douglas and Coos County schools. Jim Thompson organized the OSU Sheep Center program.

The Turner location was discontinued after several years as were the other statewide locations, however the school at the Sitton operation continued with the assistance of Lester, Allen and Eva Sitton. This school ceased in 2010 due to low attendance. It is estimated that well over 600 experienced and novice sheep producers attended an Oregon lambing school during the 26-year period.

In 2012, the Oregon Sheep Growers Association expressed interest in starting the school again. So in 2013, the OSGA/OSU lambing schools began the second phase of lambing school history at Mont Alto Ranch in Glide, OR. OSGA member John Fine organized the “new” lambing school along with Ernie and Toni Kahle, ranch managers. Instructors at the OSGA/OSU school included John Fine, Dr. Paul Bailey, Gene Pirelli, Ernie and Toni Kahle (until their retirement in 2017) and new ranch manager, Josh Sutch.

So, what goes on at a lambing school? The school is held at a sheep operation during lambing time so the participants get the full lambing experience. At one time there were up to 3 schools at a location. It is limited to 8 to 14 students (depending on the location) who range in both age and level of sheep experience. These “students” are treated to a combination of hands-on practices and sit-down discussion. Obstetrics, assisting the birth of lambs, is a primary part of the lambing school. Most ewes deliver lambs with no problems, however, sheep can have multiple offspring ranging from two to five in number. Therefore, there is a greater chance for one lamb not to be aligned correctly and have difficulty being born. Participants learn techniques to solve these problems quickly to increase the number of lambs born alive and healthy.

Other hands-on practices are vaccinations, condition scoring, “tubing” a lamb (giving it milk when it is too weak to nurse) and the proper way to hold sheep. Discussion portions of the school cover lamb survival, sheep health and nutrition.

At the end of the day, participants are tired and a little dirty, but happy. Feedback from lambing school evaluations contained statements such as “Great life skills and lessons!” “Excellent course!” “I feel that I have an arsenal of information to take with me back to my lambing.”
Yes, we had lambing schools. And it was fun!