Friday, 30 November 2012

Beautiful Blue Bottomed Girls!

Sutton with blue raddle paste everywhere!
It’s official! My beautiful little sheep are pregnant! This is my first experience of breeding sheep and I am so excited. Lilly and Lucy have lambed before but it’s Pipin’s first time so I am hoping that Lilly and Lucy will show her how it’s done. 

I don’t keep a ram so this year I borrowed a gorgeous little Ram lamb called Sutton from a breeder nearby. Sutton was born in March this year and, despite his youth, has made a big impression at a number of breed shows this year, including the annual sheep fayre at Masham.

Lilly showing a flash of blue bum!
He is very handsome, placid and a good example of the breed, so we agreed with his owners that we would give him a chance to prove himself with my ewes this year. Once his youthful enthusiasm had died down and he had stopped chasing them around the field waggling his tongue. Well, what woman would respond to that approach? The girls soon got used to his presence they began to come into season.

Letting Sutton prove himself with my little flock of ewes will give his owner a chance to see the quality of lambs that he produces, without putting him under too much pressure to perform. We smeared his chest with Blue raddle powder when he arrived and then put him in the field. Within about a week, all my little Ryeland girls had beautiful blue bottoms!

Pipin ruminating
Ewes cycle every 17 days so I changed the colour of his raddle powder to red after about 14 days, in case his first attempts had been unsuccessful. It’s now well over that date for all three of them and, although he is clearly happy to offer the ewes his services at a moment’s notice should they be required, it’s evident that they are not.

It’s such an exciting time for a shepherd, counting the days from the ewes’ cycle and waiting to see if your flock are all in lamb.  Once they are, the excitement is replaced by the anticipation of scanning them in a few weeks to see how many lambs they are carrying.  If everything goes to plan, the ewes will give birth to their lambs over the Easter Holidays, which means that the lambs will miss the worst of the winter weather.

In the meantime I can get on with preparing for their arrival and getting on top of my other jobs around the farm. The ewes can concentrate on building up their nutrition levels and Sutton can take a well-earned rest for another year! 

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