Monday, November 11, 2013

The boys have come out from their ewe groups this weekend. I'm very excited at the prospects of some of the pairings we've made and really have my fingers crossed for some lovely lambs. We have vaccinated the ewes against Schmallenberg and hope to avoid the disease which is now well established in England and within our county. It was a difficult decision as the vaccine cost approx. £3.50 per ewe and can seem rather expensive, it's definitely a cost I could live without! Having seen some other farmers and smallholders struggle with the effects of Schmallenberg last year I decided I would worry if I didn't vaccinate the ewes. They all had their vaccine 3 weeks before the tups went in and now all we can do is hope for a successful lambing period in early March.

Montgomery Jack all prepped and ready to meet his ewes


The Rams have been with the ewes for two cycles now and for the most part it's gone very well. Only one shearling ewe required a repeat service, the others all seem to have held at first attempt. The rams obviously turned on some serious charm and wooed the ewes in record time this year. We had the majority of the girls served within 10 days; great for planning our lambing times and resources. Based on the raddle marks we will be lambing for a period of approximately 3 weeks with the bulk of the ewes being in the first 10 days. Must remember to get well stocked up on the coffee for then! As you guys know we have a Coloured Ryeland flock and also a Ryeland flock. They are split at tupping time into small groups each with their respective rams. as per my last blog we have introduced some new bloodlines this year with some beautiful new rams joining our breeding group. The fun of having new rams is pairing the ewes to them, looking at their bloodlines and conformation trying to decide who would be best with who. It's a bit like an introduction agency trying to find the best match.

Malt Kiln Sabre takes a break from romancing the ewes 

This year we had quite a few shearlings (ewes which have only been shorn once approximately 18 months of age) joining the breeding group. It's not common for Ryelands or Coloured Ryelands to be bred from in their first year so normally they are shearlings before they go to the ram and two year olds when they actually lamb themselves. This allows them to be fully developed before having the additional burden of supporting a growing lamb. It's best to put these young ewes with rams who have a bit of experience and vice a versa a young inexperience ram would often be put to more experienced ewes just to help every thing along! Luckily all the rams we've used this year have been proven and are relatively experienced which meant this did not need to influence our decision on pairings.

During the whole of this hormone fuelled party the ewe lambs and ram lambs, which we have retained or bought in, are separated and given their own paddocks out of harms way. The ewe lambs have had a marvellous time mooching on a paddock with a  great variety of herbage which they have explored and munched on well. They are now back with the ewes on a lovely pasture full of green goodies to keep them happy. The ewes will remain with them until lambing when we'll walk them down the road to the yard and stables.

The ram lambs had a rather fantastic holiday with our neighbours who have looked after them wonderfully. Truth be told I think they've been a little spoilt! They are now back with us and enjoying their new paddock and plenty of mix to keep them growing over winter.

We have some visiting ewes who are still with the rams and will be until late December. They seem to have seem to have settled well and made themselves at home. They all used to live here and have been sold but have returned to have a romantic break with our rams.

Over the next few months the ewes will be monitored and will be due for scanning in late December. Then we'll really know how well our pairings have gone!

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