crouchley hall farm

  • The New Girls

    If you happen to follow us on Facebook or twitter, first of all - thank you - and secondly you're probably already aware that we recently bought some new sheep. As going out to buy sheep isn't as usual as popping out for a pint of milk or some new shoes, I thought it might be useful to explain what was going on.

    Traditionally the shepherd's year starts in the autumn. Sheep are one of our last truly seasonal domestic animals (along with turkeys of course) because, in general, they'll only breed in the autumn. That way the lambs are born in the spring as the new season's grass starts to appear. So at the end of every summer, shepherds around the country - regardless of how many or how few sheep they have - set to and establish their breeding flock for the coming season. This is the time of year when the sheep fairs and ram sales are held and also generally when the pedigree breed societies have shows and sales.

    But before anyone starts buying more sheep, unfortunately you have to decide on the ewes that you can't breed from again. Perhaps they've lost their teeth (really – they drop out with age) and can't feed themselves or perhaps they've had milk fever (mastitis) and couldn't feed their lambs - whatever - there are many reasons and these are the ewes that have to go. As we're such a small operation sometimes we just retire an old girl from breeding as long as she's in good health but sometimes there's no alternative and the kindest thing is just to have them quietly put down here. What we don't do is send our cull ewes off to market not knowing where they’re going to end up or how they might be treated. Of course that’s an indulgence for us which isn’t an option for a truly commercial operation.

    We do breed some of our own flock replacements but bringing in new and unrelated bloodlines is always good. So having worked out how many new ewes we needed, off we went to Rugby Farmers Mart at the National Agricultural Centre in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire for the Wiltshire Horn Sheep Society Show and Sale. And back we came with 5 new handsome young ewes ready to go into the breeding flock this autumn.

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