So one day this week, Hubster asked if the children and I fancied a road trip.
It was only to Tarporley, a town about 30 miles away but it was to look at some rams.
Many sheep farmers buy new rams at this time of year, ready for tupping which takes place between September and November-depending on when you want your lambs to be born.
Indeed, a local market at Lancaster, where we often buy livestock from, has a special ‘lads night out’ for the purchasing of new tups which Hubster visited last year.
This year, he saw the rams for sale on a local selling site and we went to take a look.
We usually buy Texel rams. We currently have four and we mate them with mule ewes which are a cross between a Blue Faced Leicester and a Swaledale.
We have had a real problem with foot rot in our ewes and lambs this year-mainly due to the weather. If you don’t know, foot rot is a grim condition where a sheep’s foot is literally eaten away if not treated. It is bacterial so warm and wet weather is prime conditions for it to breed.
We therefore decided to go for a different ram this year and opted for a Suffolk which a beautiful to look at compared with the really masculine looking Texel.
Plus, they have a much wider hoof and foot than mules.
There were quite a few ram lambs to choose from. They were born this year but, as you will see from the size of their testicles, they will be more than ready for breeding when their time comes.
They have been brought up with show stock so are halter trained and really tame. So tame that when G walked up to them in the field, rather than run off like most sheep would do, they went over and sniffed him on the nose.
Hubster (and G) chose three animals and led them back to the trailer.
I am the secretary in such situations and filled in the movement license which is sent to DEFRA and the local animal health department at the council.
When we got home, it is always a worrying time, introducing the two sets of males. Rams can fight terribly, head butting each other which, on paper doesn’t sound that bad but if you imagine the weight behind such testosterone filled animals, and the force with which they meet, it can be fatal in the most extreme cases or at least knock one or both of the animals out.
Just like dogs, the rams will sniff each others genitals and bottoms to see what they are dealing with. Then they’ll pull back and have a look and then sniff again. Sometimes they will mount each other.
Minty is always funny to watch in these situations. He usually has a sniff and then retreats. As he is is a wether (castrated), the rams-especially new ones will find it hard to work out what he is. Sometimes they will mount him. Sometimes, they mount each other.
I am not sure if it is the fact that the new rams were juveniles but the meeting went very well with no fighting at all.
I can’t wait to see next year’s lambs. If they are half as cute as their father’s, I think I will struggle to not have 200 Mintys.