With Easter, just around the corner most of us will be getting ready for the long weekend to celebrate with our friends and families. However, for the majority of the farming community across the country Easter is the time when the busy period of lambing begins. Which is quite an irony when lamb is the most popular meat to be consumed at Easter.
Here at Coombe Farm our shepherdess Kate is getting ready for the lambs to arrive, however it is not just one month of being hectic it is a continuous task throughout the year.
The fun begins
It all begins in November when the ewes are separated into two groups, two rams are then put into each group to serve. The reason for separating the ewes is because we use two different breeds of ram, Lleyn and Texel. The Lleyn rams are used for breeding replacement this is to help continually grow the flock and replace the older ewes. The Texel rams are used to produce lambs with a good confirmation which also produces quality meat, these are the lambs we use at the meat box. The way that Kate can tell if all the ewes have been served is by the rams wearing a strap around their body which has a paint makers attached, once the rams have mounted the ewes a mark will be left on the ewe. Once Kate feels comfortable that all have been served she will then take the ram back out and they will enjoy a deserving rest in the field until they are called upon next year.
The next step is scanning the ewes in January, this is a very skilled task which is a great way to see how many lambs each ewe is carrying. Scanning is basically the same as ultrasound for humans just a little more hair involved! It is also a great way to monitor the ewes and make sure that the expectant mums are healthy and not lacking in anything before they lamb in March. This year 186 ewes were scanned, 62 of these are expecting 1 lamb, 115 are expecting twins, 10 are having triplets and 9 were not in lamb this is usually because of the age of the ewe and are coming to the end of their reproductive life.
Enjoy the quiet before the storm
After the scanning the ewes will then be separated into two groups depending on how many lambs they are carrying. The double and triplets will be put on the better-quality land because they will need higher quality grass to ensure healthy, strong lambs are born. This group has now been moved back closer to the farm ready to be housed in the next week. They will be housed during lambing as extra care is needed when the ewes are expecting more than one lamb, once the lambs are strong enough they will be turned out into the field with their mums. With the ewes only expecting one lamb they will remain in the fields close to the shed whilst lambing, this is because it is very unlikely for the ewes to struggle during birth with one lamb. However, they will still be monitored throughout the day to ensure they are all well, if there is a problem the ewe and her lamb will be brought into the shed for extra care until they are ready to return to the field.
It is always an exciting/tiring time of year but we cannot wait to see the lambs bouncing around the fields. Don’t worry, we will share plenty of photos with you over the next few weeks. From us at Coombe we would like to wish you a great Easter!