At the end of July 36 organic pedigree Poll Dorsets arrived at Godolphin.
They were all born between November 2012 and January 2013. Here are the lambs when they were only a few weeks old, they’ve definitely grown a lot since then!
As the sheep were just getting used to their new home, Sidney, a young ram was introduced in to the flock. This will be his second year in command of a flock of females.
Sidney has been selected because of his conformation and build, which will compliment the ewes he is breeding with.
He was marked with a marking harness (a raddle) which contains a crayon, on his chest. The ewes were then numbered with the last three digits of their ear tag. After 17 days each of the ewes should have come into season at least once. This is shown by a coloured mark on their back left from Sidney’s raddle. Sidney is then given a new coloured raddle and any which may have returned or aborted their foetus early on, can be identified when they come into season again. This is because they will have a different colour from the rest of the flock. The flock currently look like they have been in a paint ball fight but this should fade over time! To make a ewes existence financially viable, it needs to produce at least one lamb each year. If one of the ewes fails to reproduce she unfortunately is not useful to Mark as a breeding animal.
Also this month, Mark and his family visited Stithians Show. One of the ewe lambs, Gracie, was selected to go. She had to be halter trained and taught to stand properly for inspection. Gracie came 4th in the ewe lamb class, and showed a lot of potential for future competitions.
The family were also busy sheep shearing this month. This is the first time this group have been shorn due to their age, and they were reluctant to embrace this new experience. Next year Mark is sure they will take it all in their stride. Its is important that fleeces are dry when shearing and Mark managed to get them into the barn before the weather broke. The Care family from Burras brought their shearing equipment and began working their way through the flock.
Mark has also had problems with flies irritating the animals in the hot weather this month. Firstly, a young Ruby Red cow had been on the hill scratching her head near her horn. The more the flies irritated her, the more she scratched her head on anything she could find. The herd were taken off the hill whilst the animal was treated. Mark has also had to keep a Hereford cross Limosin cow and calf in the shed for a few weeks. This is because the cow had damaged its teat and the flesh wound was attracting a lot of attention from the flies. Each day she was taken out of the shed and the wound treated. It was time consuming but now the cow and the calf are back in the field.
The sheep are possibly the most vulnerable to flies. A condition known as fly strike can be severe and can kill a ewe in days if not identified early. A fly would land on the wool, bury its way to the skin and lay its eggs, the maggots would then hatch and begin eating the flesh. This is very nasty and it is not easy to identify what is happening under the wool of a ewe several meters away. Knowing your flock and the behaviour of the animals is key, and fingers crossed Mark has avoided any cases of fly strike so far this year.