Before I begin this blog, I am going to give a bit of sheep terminology.
When a sheep has a female lamb, this is called a ewe lamb, right up until it is weaned, (approx 5 months) After it is has been weaned and before it has been sheared (approx 15 months old), it is referred to as a hog. After sheep shearing, this same female sheep will be classed as a gimmer. The gimmer, aged about 20 months, will go to the tup, hopefully she will then end up in lamb (pregnant) and produce her first offspring at about 2 years old.
Sheep after they produce, will be classed as ewes. Ewes will have 3 or 4 years of producing and then they will be sold on as cast ewes and will either go elsewhere and be bred or go into the food chain.
Ewe lambs, selected for breeding qualities and kept to go on to produce, those who don’t have breeding qualities will be sold as lamb or hogget dependant on their age and will go into the food chain earlier.
Subsidy is given to farmers to encourage them to keep hogs on the farm, instead of selling off early for meat, and this is based per hog. The amount given will provide enough money to keep the hog in feed and any medicines required.
At Glengorm, during the winter months, we don’t have much in the way of grass. Therefore, we have to buy in feed to supplement the animals we keep on the farm. However, traditionally on the west coast of Scotland, hogs go off to winter else where, usually East or South. Our hogs head south to Stranraer. They are taken away in a 3 story arctic lorry at the beginning of October, and they return at the start of April.
They do much better living off grass, so it makes sense if the figures can balance, to send them away. They returned to us this week and were very lucky to get on the ferry and be brought home to us during this Corona pandemic.
The sheep were delighted to get off the lorry, and they all looked in pretty good condition. The drive from Stranraer to Oban is about 6 hours, then they have the ferry crossing and another hours drive to get to us. They did well to have 341 hogs all packed into the lorry. They tend to all hold each other up in the lorry, but their was a couple of casualties this year where a couple of the hogs lost a horn.
Whilst they are away being wintered, Tom and Asha went for a day trip to Stranraer to dose them, this is to give them medicines to prevent disease.
On return to Glengorm, they will get a couple of days to settle in and then they will go through the fank and be dosed again. They will be sorted into those we wish to keep to breed and those which will be sold on. They don’t all usually come home, some are usually dropped off in Stirling for Market but this year with the Corona pandemic this has not happened this way.