Yesterday, Jethro double tagged the ewe lambs. Their first ear tag was put in at lambing time to uniquely identify them, and today we put in a second tag with the breed society requirements so that we can register these pedigree sheep. Any ewe lambs which lose their unique identity tag before the second tag goes in are sold as prime lamb for meat. With pedigree sheep we have to know exactly how every sheep is bred in order to ensure that in-breeding does not occur. We have full traceability and total transparency – the farm database records the full pedigree of every animal as well as all the activities, treatments and movements from birth to slaughter of all the cattle and sheep and we are looking at getting a similar package for the pigs, as their records are still paper based.
All the ewes will be sorted through too. Their teeth, udders, feet and general condition are thoroughly checked and any sheep not fit to be kept for breeding will be moved on to fresh grazing to be fattened up for slaughter later in the year.
The rams and ram lambs will also have a second thorough check, the first one was done in early August. The ram lambs are generally left to their second year before any final decisions are made as to their suitability as sires however we have marked a couple to go already. Unfortunately the biggest ram lamb born this year, with outstanding body conformation has very wonky front legs that are not straight at all, it would be totally irresponsible to breed from him so he has a large red cross sprayed on his head and will be sold with the cull ewes when the time comes. Another couple of rams – one a shearling [born last year] is just not good enoughto use and another older one has very troublesome horns which leads to huge fly problems so both these will also be sold with the culls.