Biddlesden Warrant

Just before Christmas, we welcomed back the handsome Whitefaced Woodland ram, Biddlesden Warrant, who previously visited some our ewes last January. Warrant is back at Mudchute to spend time with some of our Whitefaced Ewes.

Both male and female Whitefaced Woodland sheep have horns, but those of the ewe (on the right) are far less ornate than those of the ram.

Both male and female Whitefaced Woodland sheep have horns, but those of the ewe (on the right) are far less ornate than those of the ram.

A fine looking ram!

A fine looking ram!

You’ll notice he is wearing a raddle, a harness that holds a crayon. By changing the colour of the marker regularly, we can monitor if and when he mounts a ewe. This will give as indication of when the ewes may conceive. We’ve only just introduced the ram and ewes, but we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for Whitefaced lambs in 5-6 months!

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IMG_6644Our handsome Oxford Down ram Bertie has been enjoying the company of the lovely Jacob Ewes of Stepney City Farm as well as a few of our own ewes. He’s all raddled up and wasted little time! Putting a ram to the ewes now in November should mean lambs will arrive in April if all goes to plan as the typical gestation in sheep is 5 months.

The harness Bertie wears is called a raddle. This holds a crayon which marks the ewes as he services them. These markings allow farmers to keep track of which ewes have been covered and by changing the colour of crayon, when this occurs. By monitoring the marks, we can work out if and when the ewes have come into or gone out of season.

Mudchute Bertie seems to be doing a fine job, so we hope to welcome new lambs in the Spring. If any Oxford breeders are interested in his tupping services, please do get in touch via farm@mudchute.org.

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Look at those lovely horns!

Look at those lovely horns!

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!

Warrant checking up on the ewes.

Warrant checking up on the ewes.

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!