Lambing dates can vary. Most breeds lamb in the spring so that the new-born lambs can benefit from the lush and nutritious spring and early summer grass. We tend to lamb in March or April so that the worst winter weather has passed before our new season lambs are born.
The ewes had been running with the ram or “tup” earlier in the winter. “Tup” is a very old English word, used by Shakespeare, and of unknown origin. Nowadays it is used more in northern and Scottish dialects, although all farming communities would recognise and understand it.
We ensure that the ram is doing his work by fitting him with a harness complete with colour marker so that each ewe that has been served has a coloured mark on her rump. So we have a good idea earlier on as to how things are going. However, “tupping” does not ensure pregnancy and we also want to know, if the ewe is pregnant, how many lambs she is likely to have so that she can be fed and treated accordingly.
This is where scanning comes in. All our ewes are scanned. In the first flock this year
there were four predicted triplets, eighty two twins and fifty four singles. Four were not in lamb. This gave us a respectable score of 160%.
Now the task is to prepare for lambing, provide extra support for the ewes with triplets and twins and ensure that all go through safely to lambing. Bad weather, for example, can lead to losses even at this late stage. Let’s hope for some decent spring weather!