Single, twin, triplets or empty!

Sheep waiting in the fank

The sheep were gathered last weekend by Alexander and his team of collies and brought in for scanning. This is done each year, to determine which sheep are pregnant and how many lambs they are carrying. It is done very similarly to the way us women are scanned! Daniel, who comes over from New Zealand each year to go around a lot of farms with his machine, has this down to a fine art and takes no more than 10 seconds per sheep.

Tom working the sheep

The sheep are put through a race which takes them to a small sheep crush where each sheep is stopped whilst Daniel quickly scans and informs Asha whether the sheep is carrying a single, twins, more or is empty. It is Asha’s job to mark the sheep with spray dye so we can tell at a glance who has what and then the sheep can be sorted into groups accordingly.

Marking the sheep

This process is very quick and helps us on farm to know how much to feed the sheep, overfeeding and underfeeding both cause problems. Over feeding a sheep with one lamb too much will mean the lamb will grow too big and this will result in problems at birth, underfeeding on the other hand may cause the sheep to loose too much condition and abort the lambs.

Our statistics this year were very good, our best results ever. Our overall percentage rate between the black faced sheep and our crossed sheep was at 154%, thus meaning that out of 100 sheep we should yield 154 lambs.

This good rate could be down to many different factors, the weather plays a big role as sheep don’t really like the rain, and November when the tups went out happened to be very dry this year. Other factors which affect the sheep are their general health and how they have fared over the summer previous to tupping and then how they are fed after tupping. Sheep are very susceptible to stress, dogs not on a lead can cause a sheep stress even if it doesn’t chase it, and this may lead the sheep to abort.