Wednesday 14 December 2011

Tups a fighting

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Unfortunately when more than one tup is running with a bunch of ewes problems can arise. Something to do with jealousy I doubt - they just don't seem too keen on sharing. The above photo shows a receptive ewe finding herself with a couple of suitors. Now she doesn't have any say in the matter, the decision won't be hers, she just has to wait patiently until the boys do what boys are prone to doing - throwing their weight around to decide who will be the 'daddy of them all'.
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The boys start muscling in on each other, laying down the law and deciding who is the strongest. The ewe hangs around - forever hopeful.

These fights are capable of getting out of hand, if both tups decide they are going to win serious injuries can occur. Generally speaking though one will back down, neither really want to suffer any serious injuries, they all wish to breed. Just like the wildlife programmes we watch on the television the dominant male has to fight for his wives should another fella come along and decide to lay a claim to the harem.

Generally tups will push on with one another as the above photo shows, bit like a rugby scrum. If one isn't willing to step down the fighting gets rougher with the boys stepping back from one another then charging and butting, it may be head to head or ramming into the others backside, either way it can cause serious injury - stifled hips, spinal injuries, head injuries - all manner of jollies! Tups are also capable of facing up to dogs in a similar manner and for that matter those who care for them too! It is never wise to put yourself between two fighting tups unless you'd like a month or two off with your leg in plaster

These boys had all been held together prior to tup time, they knew one another and would probably have already worked out each others strengths and weaknesses, they would know how far to take the argy bargy without incurring too many injuries. Not always the case if two strange tups meet up.

These tups had just been let to the ewes, they needed to work out their pecking order, the loser would be wary of the stronger sheep but he would still get to tup ewes, these sheep are running on a fair skelp of ground and there is plenty of room for the fellas to keep apart, although bunched up almost every day the underdog will keep to the edge of the ewes picking up receptive females whilst the dominant fella will strut through the middle of the ewes finding any which appeal to him.

There were in fact three tups put to this bunch of ewes (there were nearly 200 of them) and as the shepherd said, "three is better than two, whilst two fight it out the third tups the ewes" - Guess that's one way of looking at it!
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Eventually the scrum is over, the front tup in this picture is actually being chased away by the victor, the ewe who is seeking their services is patiently following them around. Whilst the victor dealt with the needs of the patient ewe the other tup wandered away off, out of the firing range and found himself his own female. Over the following weeks it was always easy to spot the dominant fella but the other guys went about their job as well, they were wise enough to be discreet and not draw too much attention to themselves.

It is always hoped that the dominant sheep isn't firing any blanks as he is capable of gathering more than his fair share of the ewes and it would be a nuisance to find they hadn't conceived, unfortunately there isn't always sufficient fields to allow one tup to run with one bunch of sheep. 200 ewes to one tup may just be a few too many, that's a lot of tupping to do in 17 days! Everyone has different ideas but I was brought up to an average of 70 ewes to a tup, some tups get more ewes, some less, it all depends on personal management ideas.


Dafad said...

Hi Shep, timing all widershins at the mo (poxy bug doing me up).
Wonder what a rugby match between our sheep and yours would be like?
Your All Blacks versus our tired out tups ...?
We'll see in the human Six Nations next year!
Meanwhile,stay safe on that quad.
Don't want you doing a tup turn over!

Tarset Shepherd said...

Now there's a thought, Welsh Mountains tups vs Blackfaced tups, could be a new sport?? Sooner left to them daft fellas that run around after a funny shaped ball I think.