Monday 28 November 2011

Tup time again

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'Tis that time of year again, when the tups get loused (let out). The Shepherding year begins.

There have been tups out in Tarset for weeks now, every farm has different tup dates and lambing dates, although it is fairly safe to say that the majority like their in-bye ewes to begin to lamb in early April and the out-bye sheep to lamb later in April. Five months less five days is the mathematical equation to help one work out when their lambing ought to commence from the day the tups were loused. Like people, sheep don't always stick to their dates, some lamb sooner others later so you can't put your tups out on the 20th November and guarantee you wont have a lamb arrive until 15th April, chances are there'll be an odd one come a day or two sooner.

Shep has gathered for the last time for those needing their tups putting out. The next valley across, in the Rede saw the last gathering of hill ground for the dogs and I, tups are happy, their time has come and they can go forth and multiply so to speak. There are always a handful waiting in the wings. Those who haven't been put out for the first time over, being held back either to cover for any tup which suffers an injury or to go out fresh at second time over (after 17 days). Those who go out at second time over it would be hoped will not have too many sheep to cover as hopefully most will have conceived in the first 17 days.
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These boys have had a bit of a hair do. Bloom (colouring) applied to them by way of a knapsack sprayer, making it easier to make visual contact with them from a distance. Not everyone does this to their tups but it does help when finding he's missing and he's standing back somewhere with that one special ewe he is far easier spotted if he is psychedelic. I know of one farmer who covers his tups with orange spray. A sheep marking spray can is used to graffiti the beasts - an expensive option in my mind when you have many to colour. Some put stripes of keel down either side of the tups to make them stand out from the crowd, some just don't do anything.
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As seen in this picture he definitely does stand out in a crowd, and unless he's hiding in the brackens somewhere it is usually quite easy to get your eye on the chap and set him up to all the other sheep ought he to be standing back somewhere.
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This cheviot tup had just been let out of a trailer, he ambled towards the ewes and started sniffing the air
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he had to pick up speed as the ewes decided they weren't going to hang around! Sheep are gathered up as often as the weather will allow giving the guys a better chance of catching those ewes which are a tupping, a necessary job where sheep have a fair skelp of ground to go at, not quite so necessary when held in smaller fields. Ewes will hunt the tup out just as the tup will hunt the ewes out. Although it is still necessary to keep a fairly close eye on proceedings as tups may not be working for whatever reason and it always pays to find out sooner rather than later.
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And so it is, there are many tups throughout the area rising to the challenge, they have waited all year for this opportunity and hopefully they'll manage the task in hand and spread there genes to another generation.


Dafad said...

Yo Shep,
Am guessing you're mega busy and I've been regularly checking weather in your area. Brrr-ass monkeys!
Seems you start tupping later than here. Ours our mostly done what they're reared for. Scanning here starts in January. Just stay safe in them there conditions.
Tonight, clear star skies and a Barn Owl flew, silently just a few feet in front of my face.Wow!
Best aye. Dafad.

Tarset Shepherd said...

Dafad! How ya doin'? I love Barn Owls - beautiful creatures, lets hope they survive better this winter than last. Brass monkeys sums it up well, have just finished a posting explaining such, just looked at thermometer at back door and is -3. Brrr.....
Yup, you definitely tup sooner down there, some will be scanning at the end of Jan round here then into the middle of Feb. Hill sheep aim to lamb middle to late April.
Keep up the good work on your Blog. Shep