The Life on The Farm column with Frances Graham

All ewes are checked, given multi vitamins, and dosed for Fluke before they see the tup.
All ewes are checked, given multi vitamins, and dosed for Fluke before they see the tup.

The tup sales have passed and now it is time to get the sheep ready for tupping. We managed to sell both shearling tups at Bentham the other week and considering we were the last in, and it was the first time at Bentham, we were all happy.

We didn’t have to buy any Dalesbred tups this year as last year we kept two of our own to use as they didn’t sell at Skipton.

The tups we have bought in previous years can still be used as we have four different flocks of Dalesbreds and the tups can normally move around so we don’t have to buy as many tups in.

The Masham ewes are the first lot of sheep to be loosed to the tup, so they normally start to lamb around 20 March if they are loosed the 23 October.

However before that we had to get the sheep ready. Before we got them ready for the tup we check that they had all of their teeth and that their udders are OK as if they don’t have them right they can’t rear a lamb so easily up here.

Sheep with broken mouths can sometimes last forever and never look to ail anything, but if they are going to be kept they are better on lower ground where there is plenty of grass.

Sheep have two teats so hopefully they will look after two lambs, but if they only have one teat they are sold because they will be a nuisance at lambing time.

One of the main jobs is to tail them, clipping the wool off the tail to make life easier for the tup to do his job.

We also give the sheep some multi vitamins to give them that extra boost. Fluke can be a killer, it attacks the liver.

It likes wet weather and if fields are wet then it will like to live there.

Therefore we have to treat them with a flukicide that kills both adult and immature fluke.

Sometimes if the winter has been bad and wet then they will have to be done again in January/ February. The sheep are also remarked with our individual mark.

We have only marked the sheep that are on the inside ground.

All the moor sheep are still to do, we won’t be gathering the moor until the end of the month as the Dalesbreds won’t be loosed until 3 November or after.

After the ewes have been tailed, dosed and marked they are then sorted out into the different groups.

We always tup the shearlings separate to the ewes and sometimes loose them a bit later as they are the ones that are always problematic at lambing.

We put all the Masham ewes together and flush them.

Flushing is putting them into some better grass compared to where they had been kept before, so giving them all the vitamins and flukicde will hopefully make them all come a tupping.

Sheep only come a tupping at this time of year as when the days start to get shorter it causes them to come into season.

My Dad and I have just let the Texel tups go with the Masham ewes and shearlings.

We took three tups to the ewes and one to the shearlings, we don’t put two tups together as the tups can start fighting over the same ewe and if there are three tups then two can fight and the other one will be working.

Raddling is placing a colour on a tup’s chest so it marks the ewe during its work.

All the tups are raddled, the ewes have red and the shearlings have green. This shows which animals have been tupped and the colour is changed after three weeks – the length of the sheep cycle.