October 2015

Time to Tup

14 October, 2015 - 12:25 | Lara Pollard-Jones

What is tupping?
Tupping is the mating of sheep, and is usually (!) arranged and controlled by the shepherd.  Some people will let the ram (tup) run with the ewes all year round, and will let nature take its course, but those who are looking to achieve certain traits or characteristics will make all the decisions – not leave it to the sheep!

When to tup?                                                
This is one of those questions that is similar to ‘how long is a piece of string?’  The rule of thumb for general purpose breeding, in line with sheep preferences, is put the rams in on Bonfire Night to have April Fool’s lambs. 

Vampire Lambs!

12 October, 2015 - 18:46 | Lara Pollard-Jones





Not proper vampire lambs...we hope!

This little fellow from Barony Coloured Ryelands caused a bit of a stir earlier in the year with his rather sweet, if slightly vampiric markings.  'Vampire' as he is known has had his picture shared all over the internet and has even been drawn as a cartoon!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

The Bluefaced Leicester

12 October, 2015 - 15:32 | Lara Pollard-Jones

The Bluefaced Leicester is one of the most well known sheep breeds in the UK today, and arguably one of the most important.  Easily recognisable with its aquiline nose, pronounced ears and deep blue skin it is popular for crossing and is used as a terminal sire for nearly 50% of the UKs commercial breeding flock.  Its popularity as a terminal sire, however, has led to a divide within the breed with two distinctly different looking types.  This has led many to call for the Bluefaced Leicester to be divided into two distinct breeds, the traditional and the crossing-type.

What's in a name? Weights of fleeces

12 October, 2015 - 15:21 | Lara Pollard-Jones

Fleece has always played an important part in farming, and the wool trade is currently relatively strong after a lengthy depression.  Just as there are specific words for counting sheep (Yan, tan, tethera, etc) there are also words that are used for counting weights of fleece.  These are no longer used today but were vitally important when farmers were selling their fleeces.  7lbs of fleece is a clove, two cloves are a stone.  Two stones are a tod, six and a half tods are a wey.  Two weys are a sack and 12 sacks are a last.


Stone (two cloves)

Tod (two stones)

Wey (six and a half tods)

Sack (two weys)

Last (twelve sacks)







Conservation Grazing

12 October, 2015 - 15:17 | Lara Pollard-Jones

What is it?
Conservation grazing does exactly what it says on the tin.  It is the conscientious use of grazing to aid the development of biodiversity and improve the management of a variety of habitats throughout the United Kingdom. 


What does it do?

Johnes Disease

12 October, 2015 - 15:05 | Lara Pollard-Jones

Johne’s disease (JD) is a relatively unknown disease which affects sheep, goats, cattle and even camelids throughout the world and is endemic in most European countries.  It is widespread throughout the UK and becoming a key issue affecting the UK sheep industry today.

Breed Focus: Castlemilk Moorit

12 October, 2015 - 15:00 | Lara Pollard-Jones

The Castlemilk Moorit has an interesting history.  While some sheep breeds have been around for centuries or have been developed for better meat or fleeces, this breed’s purpose was primarily aesthetic.

James Rebanks' The Shepherd's Life

Sue Blacker's picture
1 October, 2015 - 12:45 | Sue Blacker

Like many people, particularly those in our little woolly world, I had heard of James Rebanks via his Herdy Shepherd Twitter blog and then he shot to fame in the rather bigger world of Radio 4's weekly book serialisation!

So I thought I ought to read the book ... and here is a rather personal and reflective review. 

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