Life on the Farm column with Frances Graham

We managed to finish the marking of all our lambs ahead of silaging.
We managed to finish the marking of all our lambs ahead of silaging.

Well, we have finally finished lambing and have just completed marking all the lambs, which both my grandma and I said must be sooner than normal, normally I am trying to finish marking them before we set off silaging, but this year I am a week early.

All the lambs have to be marked, and depending which breed of lamb they get treated differently.

The texel lambs off the Masham ewes are the easiest ones to mark as they only have their tails docked and their testicles rung if they have them.

This year we have also tagged these lambs now, we normally leave it until they are spained in the summer but we are having to do things slightly different this year.

These lambs are also marked on the shoulder with a blue dot on as this is our mark for the sheep on one of the farms.

The next packet of sheep that we marked was the Bracken Ridge ewes, all of these ewes either have Dales mule or Masham lambs.

These lambs also have their tails docked and have their testicles rung.

We haven’t tagged these lambs as we tag them before we sell them because when we sell the gimmers in September it is easier to tag them when they are in the pens which they will be sold in.

The dales mules and masham gimmers are bred to be sold to a lowland farmer for their replacements, these gimmers are sold to them so that they can produce good quality fat lambs such as texels.

Lowland farmers used to get payments for buying gimmer lambs, but no longer get them so there isn’t as bigger incentive as there used to be for the two farming systems to work together, which doesn’t happen in the modern payment systems.

The last packets of ewes that we have marked are the moor ewes and the edge ewes.

All of these sheep have Dales-bred lambs.

We breed these as replacement gimmers and also keep a few tup lambs that we will either keep in our own flock or sell them as shearling tups next year, this is something that I have been wanting to since I was little and managed to start doing it when I left school.

My dad got me some tags for my Christmas present one year to make keeping tups easier as I use the tags so I know which tup is by which tup, the ruddle mark is the colour of the tup.

All of the horned lambs are ear marked, we have two different ear marks. The moor lambs are ear marked with the end bit snipped off and then a snip up on one ear.

Whereas the edge lambs have a different ear mark, these have a top bit out of each ear. Ear marking is the only permeant mark which cannot be removed so marking them is very important.

The moor lambs are also tagged because they go to the moor – High west and Lodge moor, where there are five other flocks.

Tagging the lambs that go to the moor is also to do because they are leaving our farm, so we have to do a movement to the moor with all the sheep and lambs.

Unfortunately we are having to sell some sheep, due to a shortage off grass and also due to us losing some land next year.

So we thought that we better sell a few whilst they were worth a bit of money.

Selling these sheep does make us all feel a bit down as these sheep we have bred up with our own sheep over the years.

It was the first time that we have ever sold ewes and lambs together, the tented upland farming systems are under threat.