Monday 16 November 2009

Ewes a - raid

It's that time of year. Testosterone and progesterone levels are racing in the ovine world.

The ewes are hunting out the tups and the tups are finding ways to get out to the ewes.

The ewes 'come a raid' - they're ready to stand for the tup and hunt him out, heading to the fences, looking to have their sexual desires fulfilled. There is no doubt that scenting comes into this and anyone who has handled a tup near to tup time will know what I mean about them being ripe, they not only purple up in the lisks (groin) but also have a strong smell. The ewes will also emit a scent as you readily see the tups, noses raised and top lip curled up as they scent the air, seeking the scent of the ewe that is ripe.

Tups escape out of the fields they have been put into prior to tup time. These are usually the best fenced areas on the farm and hopefully will hold the boys in, however some can be professional jumpers/creepers and will try to find a way out and will often succeed. Annoying, as it means lambing starts early. A head count is required every morning to ensure the boys are where they're meant to be but even if they have just been missing a few hours they can still cause a fair bit of damage.They may find themselves barred up in a building to ensure they don't get up to mischief.

The following photos show the determination of a ewe to entice a tup to her. She failed and all parties involved seemed highly frustrated

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Coming down off the hill, ewe and tup must have scented each other
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as you can see she has been tailed
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A hugely frustrating scenario, there are now two ewes, all parties are willing, there is muttering from both sides of the fence, tail waggling from the ewes, lip licking from the tup who is frantically clawing at the fence with his front feet and getting extremely agitated - to no avail. A strong pig net fence with barbed wire across the top will save the day, everyone will have to wait until the allotted time especially as these photos were taken in October. The estrus cycle for the ewe is 17 days so they have to be patient until the next time, or in this case the next time again

The earlier lambing flocks have the tups running with them by now. The gestation period for a sheep being 5 months less 5 days, many release their tups on the kinder ground on Guy Fawkes night (5th Nov) to have them come in to lamb on all fools day (1st April). This confuses me as surely that is five months less four days? The hill tups will be going out from the 20th - 25th of the month, everyone has varying dates but basically later in the month will hopefully see a bite more grass when the lambing commences and who knows? mebbes even kinder weather!


Dr Clive Dalton said...

Great info Shep. I was associated with some research years ago to confirm what shepherds have kenned since Biblical times that it's the smell of the ram (like the Billy goat) that works in bringing ewes into oestrus.It's all about the male pheromones (external body hormones).

But where was the smell located? A shepherd told us it was obvious - it was in the wool's grease. To prove this we isolated some ewes from all contact with rams and then rubbed some ram's greasy wool on their noses and three days later they ovulated - powerful stuff indeed.

You can get 'boar smell' in an aerosol now to give the old sow a squirt at mating to stimulate ovulation.
Haven't heard of any application in humans yet! But maybe beware of Tarset men's Wellie socks!

Tarset Shepherd said...

Only the bravest, hardiest souls would go anywhere near Tarset Men's wellie socks, don't think that would catch on as an aphrodisiac somehow!

Tarset Shepherd said...

Only the bravest, hardiest souls would go anywhere near Tarset Men's wellie socks, don't think that would catch on as an aphrodisiac somehow!