Home for retired Ewes(June 30, 2011)
The first livestock to arrive on the farm over 9 years ago were Manx Loaghtan ewes and lambs. These rare breed primitive sheep originate from the Isle of Man. They are a horned breed of sheep which are extremely hardy and easy to keep. They are dark chocolate brown to black when first born and as they grow the sun bleaches their fleece to pale brown. Their fleeces are often used by hand spinners and weavers.
This year we had 4 ewes that had come to the end of their breeding life and this would generally mean being sent to the abattoir as cull ewes for slaughter. We do not send any live animals to market. All of our stock go straight to the abattoir from us. We try to reduce the stress to our animals by using a good abattoir which is near to our farm to reduce the travelling time and we always take them early so they are penned for the shortest time. These ewes have produced lambs for us since we arrived here and when you lamb them every year you do get attached to them. It may seem strange to many people but they really do have their own character with some very gentle and timid where as others are more inquisitive and even pushy!
So, it was a difficult decision to make but we had to be realistic with regards to the size of our flock and the amount of grazing we have available. It was therefore decided that these ewes would have to be culled after weaning in July.
I struggled with my conscience while watching the ewes and their lambs playing in the fields and I decided to try to rehome them. I knew this primitive breed were often used for conservation grazing, so I looked on the intenet for wildlife trusts and conservation groups. I proceeded to email anyone who I thought may be able to help my cause.
Luckily the High Weald Landscape Trust replied to my email and agreed to see if they could help find my spritely old ladies a new home.
A few weeks later, sure enough, a lady who had always wanted to own her own sheep contacted me. She had plenty of grazing available to her and was willing to offer my old girls a home for life!
So all ended happily and I guess this is the benefit of being a smallholder over a commercial farmer. After all It's not all about the money!