Country diary: the farming year begins with a bang for the ewes

Tebay, Cumbria: Blissfully unaware of the consequences of the vet’s visit earlier in the year, these vasectomised males pursue the yows, nudging and sniffing them to see if they would be receptive to mating

The new farming year started with a bang on Guy Fawkes night after we loosed seven tups among the yows on our upland farm on the edge of the Howgill Fells. My son and I had spent hours discussing the genetic makeup and breeding record of our 11 rams, matching the ones we like best to groups of 30-50 ewes. The other rams will be brought in later, to “clean up” any yows missed in the first cycle.

Yows start coming into season after the autumn equinox, and ours had two “teaser tups” with them for a couple of weeks to hurry that process along. Blissfully unaware of the consequences of the vet’s visit earlier in the year, these vasectomised males pursued the yows, nudging and sniffing them to see if they would be receptive to mating, thereby kicking their hormones into action (ewes come into heat every 17 days).

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