You may wonder why we shear the sheep when it is cold outside especially when we put extra layers on every time we leave the house. For Reg the Shepherd, it is a good opportunity to see what condition the ewes are in. He can then tailor their food intake to suit their breed, weight and most importantly how many lambs they are carrying. Other benefits include more space for the sheep when they are housed during lambing and with less wool covering the body it is easier for the lambs to find their food.
But don’t they get cold? Amazingly not. Within 24 hours of shearing, a sheep’s skin has thickened three fold and the lanolin pushes its way to the tip of the wool which in turn keeps them nice and warm. They also start to eat more, therefore put on a little bit of weight which is good when they are eating for one, or two, or three!!
This is the wool loaded on the lorry to be taken away. Find out more about what happens to the wool next by clicking here.
The last week has been very busy for Reg. He’s been preparing all the sheds and sheep handling equipment, and bringing the flock back from all over the hill. Between doing all this, he had 150 fat lambs to prepare (shearing their bellies and around their bottoms) and loading onto the lorry which then end up in Sainsbury and hopefully on your plates.
Shearing the sheep The wool loaded on the lorry
The shearers arrived late on Thursday night, and worked two long days shearing nearly 1,200 ewes. Shearing sheep is a skilled business. Find out more here.
Weighing Fat Lambs Scanning
On Sunday, Reg then split the whole flock into 10 groups according to what breed they are and which tup (male sheep) they got cosy with last year. Our scanning expert then visited on Monday morning to see how many lambs each ewe is carrying. Each ewe is then marked with a colour indicating 1, 2 or even 3 lambs on board. Reg can then make a care plan for the coming months making sure they get everything they need to eat, including vitamins and minerals which is either added to their food or supplied as a supplement for them to lick as and when they want it.
So, that is the story so far…… but what’s next on the agenda? Reg needs to now get all the sheep that are inside the barns back out again all over the hill. Then it’s lambing shed preparation and a few days off hopefully before lambing starts!