A VERY Pregnant Flock

Every year in early January, our sheep scanner man Wally Chantler makes his annual visit to the farm. Equipped with scanning equipment, wet weather gear and an all-terrain vehicle, we brace the elements, bring the sheep in from the fields into open yards, and meticulously run every "expectant" sheep on the farm through the race, one by one, to determine how many lambs she will be having. The flock has been with the tups (rams) since October and the scanning is timed so that the majority should be "due" in 80 days plus. 

So this year we have been suffering from relentless rains in the days before Wally's visit. This time, luck was on our side and the rain held off, the mist cleared and we shed a coat or two once the process began. It was though incredibly wet underfoot, and the collies bore the brunt of it, enjoying every moment nonetheless. (Here's Tiggy, one of the 3 border collies)

Tiggy, border collie at Hare Farm

Starting at 8am and finishing by 2pm, over 900 ewes were fed through the process, some with a little resistance. Arm muscles are well exercised on days like these. Using a probe on the underbelly, Wally will analyse his screen, very quickly, to determine the number of lambs. If a pair of lambs, we let the ewe go un-marked. If she's expecting 1 lamb, we mark her with a blue stripe, if expecting 3 lambs it's red and if empty, it's green. They are then let out and back to grass for a handful of days, before being housed indoors and given much fuller attention in the build-up to lambing time. 

Wally Chantler, sheep scanner man, Hare Farm 2016

We are really pleased with the results. Out of the total flock of 910, only 9 are empty, the vast majority are pairs (the ideal scenario) and we will do our best come lambing time to foster most of the spare triplet lambs (175 of these)  on to a ewe with just one (127 of these). The overall scanning percentage of 203% is good, bolstered by the mule breed which is more prolific than our smaller flock of Suffolk crosses. 

 Total Sheep Scanning Results 2016

So the next job now is to bring the pregnant ladies in from the fields and house them in the lambing sheds at Hare Farm. Stuart will split them by breed and lamb numbers. He can then feed accordingly (triplet mothers get more than singles), and be well informed come lambing time. And with lambing just 80 days away, we are now in countdown mode and looking forward to Spring. 

Pregnant mules at Hare Farm

If you would like to watch the lambing spectacle unfold at Hare Farm, there are still some spaces on the lambing courses (workshop dates are 15th, 21st and 23rd March 2016 - see here for more details). There are also two self-catering options on the farm, just a stone's throw from the lambing sheds and set in fields where lambs will be playing all around you: stay in the shepherd's hut (sleeps 2) or the oast house (sleeps 10+2). Lambing starts from 10th March 2016 and although most will have lambed by early April, we are expecting a handful to keep us waiting until May. 

Written by Joanna

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