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     Sheep Unit

    Introduction

    The Harper Adams Future Farm flock currently stands at 794 breeding Pedigree Lleyn ewes with around 1600 lambs reared every year. We also run a small flock of up to 30 teaching sheep to use for practical lessons and demonstration activities. All sheep are Maedi Visna (MV) and Enzootic Abortion of Ewes (EAE) accredited and fully vaccinated against clostridial and Pasteurellosis diseases.

    What we do...

    The flock lamb from mid-February through to April indoors with a small number (150 ewes) lambing outdoors in May. The first service ewes are mated to Lleyn tups in family groups of up to 50 ewes per tup, Tony our Shepherd makes sure the lambs are registered with the correct details with the Lleyn society. The second service ewes also mate to a Lleyn tup with third service to Charolais tups.

    In the future the farm will be focussing on lambing more ewes outdoors, which is detailed in the ES Farm Productivity page, but for now the indoor lambing gives all HAU and Harper-Keele students access to come along and get some lambing experience and general sheep husbandry. They work alongside experienced farm staff and get ‘real life’ hands on experience both during the day and on night lambing duties.

    The ewes are scanned during their pregnancy and then housed according to how many lambs they are carrying; this allows Tony to control the feed intakes and monitor the ewes BCS (body condition score) and plane of nutrition. Most ewes that lamb a triplet will have one lamb adopted onto another ewe that only has a single lamb, we ideally want every lowland ewe to rear two lambs per year.

    We use ‘wet adoptions’ for most lamb adoptions onto another ewe and have had 100% success this year with all of our adoptions. Occasionally we have a ewe lose her lamb(s) and we use the skin from the dead lamb as a way to adopt a lamb onto the ewe. Students have the opportunity to do this and assist with colostrum tubing, tagging and tailing as well as lambing if needed.

    Why we do it...

    There may be trial work taking place during lambing which can include looking at colostrum quality, ewe mothering behaviours, sampling placentas and lamb milk replacers. Data, from all the farm enterprises, is an integral part of the day-to-day management of all animal species on the farm. Farm data is used for management purposes as well as supporting teaching or student HRP’s, PhD trials or commercial industry partners.

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