Here at Mudchute, we are hosting the lovely Biddlesden Warrant. This handsome Whitefaced Woodland ram has a lovely temperament and gorgeous set of horns to match. Even more exciting are his genes. Whitefaced Woodlands are a vulnerable native sheep breed, which means there are only 500 – 900 breeding females in the UK. With such a small population, it is very important to ensure we keep our animals healthy and continue to breed to unrelated stock (no mean feat with so few individuals). With a carefully managed breeding programme and working closely with the RBST and breed societies, we hope to be able to help maintain and develop this beautiful hill breed and are delighted to have Warrant on the farm with us. So far he seems to be a hit with our ladies as well!
You may notice Warrant is wearing a harness. This device is a raddle, which holds a pad of paint or chalk. The raddle lets us know when the ram or tup) “covers” a ewe. Over the next few days you also spot him sniffing at the ewes with his top lip curled back, a behaviour called “flehmen” that helps him detect their hormone levels, which will tell him whether or not they will be receptive to his advances.
Rams are not the only ones who travel for a bit of matchmaking. Two of our Oxford Down ewes have been off to spend some time at Lambourne End with Hannibal the Southdown ram.
All the matchmaking seems to be going well and we hope to welcome lambs in the late spring. Ewes typically give birth after an average of 147 days (about 5 months), but won’t show many outward signs of pregnancy for quite some time as much of the fetal growth takes place in the final 1-2 months of gestation. With a bit of luck, we’ll be expecting at the end of Spring!