A Year in the Life – November

The month we have been waiting for has finally arrived. Tupping season can commence! We tup (mate the sheep) fairly late as we want to lamb late, due to outside lambing and needing to wait for warmer weather and decent grass growth.

As you can see from the picture, there is paperwork to sort for nearly everything we do with the sheep. Here we are deciding which ewes are going with which tup, and so have printed off lists and assigned each tup a colour…

Choosing which ewe goes with which tup is mainly down to breed, but we also have to take into account the age and experience of both the ewe and the tup. Our 2 new tups haven’t worked before so we made sure they only got about 30 ewes each, and half of those were experienced ewes. Max, our older boy, had nearly all young ewes, and he had about 50.

We will leave the tups in for 5 weeks, which is 2 17 day cycles for the ewes. The first 17 days the tups will wear a red crayon on their chest, the 2nd cycle they’ll have a blue crayon. This way we can make sure that the tups do the job properly the first time around, and also we get an idea of when they ewes will lamb. We’ll split them into 2 groups for lambing, although some will probably overlap a bit.

One of our new boys, Sammy the Suffolk, got off to a flying start, barely getting through the gate before starting work! Our other new tup, Bobby the Bluefaced Leicester, took about a week to get started, but they both marked all their girls before the 5 weeks were up.

Now we wait. We have a few jobs to do before lambing, as all the ewes need vaccinating and worming before they lamb, and moving to the lambing fields, but really now we just watch and wait until April.