In our other sheep inspired blog, we described how our romantic rams visited our elegant ewes ahead of lambing season, and how busy lambing season can be.
This time, we are ready to divulge what happens in the lead up to the heady days of summer.
Now if you’ve seen sheep and cows in our fields, and seen their bright yellow ear tags, you might have wondered what those tags are for.
The tags are used to identify each ewe and each lamb so when they eventually go back outside, we can keep track of their progress.
Ear tags are also a DEFRA rule and is a legal requirement. Livestock require EID, or, electronic Identification data, which we use for our management as they are all individually listed on our computer programme.
We can see who they are , have a log of their birth details, what lambs our ewes have had and reared, any medical problems and more.
So while the ewes have been raising their young family in the barns, the grass has hopefully started growing again, ready to be nibbled by the mums so they can produce lots of tasty milk for their little ones.
After a few weeks, both mums and babies head out to the pastures, leaving the lambing sheds behind until the next lambing season.
Our ovine family enjoys up to three months of ‘toddler’ stage before lambs become independent of their mums. The mums’ milk naturally and gradually diminishes before the ewes and lambs are split up and separated. This can be a bit of noisy process while they get used to it!
So by June and the summer months, and if the weather behaves, it’s time to take off those woolly coats!
While we’ll have stored away our winter clothes hopefully weeks before, sheep don’t have that option and their fleeces need to be removed so they don’t get too hot and also to prevent the sheep getting unpleasant fly infestations.
Therefore shearing begins and it’s important to say that no harm comes to the sheep during the shearing process.
Again, it’s a hard job for the humans. Skilled shearers can do their job in a flash, and the surprised sheep probably feels a bit different at first, but relieved at the same time. Fleeces can be really heavy!
It’s worth mentioning at this stage, some of Poll Dorsets are a little bit different …
… a few of our ewes go ‘to tup’ in the summer after they’ve been sheared. These lovely ewes go on to produce some lambs in the autumn. This hardy little breed can be in lamb up to three times in two years. This is a speciality with this breed and we totally admire them.
Meanwhile, we gradually head towards the autumn. Lambs got to market and most of the mums get a bit of a rest before being visited by the tups in the autumn.
As we sit round our kitchen table at the end of a busy lambing day, chinking our mugs of tea and grabbing a biscuit, we always feel very happy and proud. It is hard work but so worthwhile … and we know our ewes appreciate our ‘labours’!