May (Year 1)
Newly born lambs spend most of May in the inside ground (low fields)
enjoying themselves. They really are full of the joys of spring. You can
see them cavorting in small groups, charging around the margins of the
fields. The pictures on this page show the lambs, born in April, still with their mothers, after their release onto the fells where they become hefted. During May they undergo several important treatements...
Branding with paint
In May all lambs are branded with paint. Branding involves using coloured
paint to put a mark on the sheep. A brand mark makes a sheep easily recognisable
so that it can always be returned to the farm should it become lost. These
brand marks also allow farmers to separate out the sheep from different
farms should they become mixed up on the fells. Separating sheep by using
their brand marks is done during a gathering.
In addition to the tag and the paint each lamb is ear marked in May. This
involves cutting out a pattern in the lambs ear. Ear markings allow farmers
to identify which flock the sheep belong to. The farmer at Tarn House
uses 3 different ear markings to identify the flocks associated with Tarn
House, Flass farm and Low Stennerskeugh grazing rights.
Worm dose (vermicide)
In May the lambs receive the first of several doses of medicine! They
are given a worm dose called vermicide to kill any intestinal worms. The
vermicide is administered by the farmer who pushes a tube down the throat
of the lamb. This procedure enables the vermicide to be placed directly
into the gut of the lamb.
On to the fell
The lambs are released on to the open fells in the middle of May. They remain with their mothers and begin the process of hefting. Already the lambs have lost their infant look. They are becoming very chubby and beginning to look like small, but very cuddly, sheep. Both males and females are released on to the fells so May, June and July are the only months of the year when a substantial number of male lambs (sheep) can be seen on the fells. Once the males have fattened up they will be sold at auction and enter the human food chain as roast lamb, lamb chops etc. Although this may sound harsh it is the reality of food production. Have you ever eaten lamb? Where did you think it came from?