Best Sheep Breeds For Meat

I have been asked what are the best sheep to breed for meat.

I have read that for best meat production, consider fast-growing breeds with good carcasses. Generally, medium to large breeds are good for meat.

My husband felt that downland breeds such as Texel or Suffolk are best sheep breeds for meat.

I asked my sheep farming friend and she said that her husband “favours a Beltex tup to a Suffolk ewe for meat production.”

Via twitter Jane @ dovefarm suggested the Ryelands, ” I would have to say ‘ryelands’ from mine n customers experience.”

I googled best sheep breeds and found that the Hampshire  and the Dorper or White Dorper seem to be good meat breeds.

Which sheep breed do you think is best for meat production?

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Electronic Tagging For Sheep

On 31st December 2009 the new electronic tagging rules for sheep came into force. This means that;

  • Sheep must now be electronically tagged when being identified for the first time.
  • If sheep are to be slaughtered wintin 12 months of age then the sheep can have a single non electronic tag.
  • Record keeping of individual animals must now take place in the holding register of electronically identified animals.
  • Batch records can still be recorded for slaughter animlas for animals identified before 31st December 2009.
  • Individual record keeping will be phased in from 1st January 2011.

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Signs Of Bluetongue In Sheep

In September bluetongue was detected in British livestock.

The signs of bluetongue in sheep are;

  • Eye and nasal discharges.
  • Drooling as a result of ulcers in the mouth.
  • High body temperature.
  • Swelling of the mouth, head and neck.
  • Lameness.
  • Tiredness.
  • Fever.
  • Haemorrhages into or under the skin.
  • Inflammation at the junction of the skin and the horn of the foot.
  • Respiratory problems – difficulty with breathing and nasal discharge.
  • A blue tongue is rarely a clinical sign of infection.
  • Deaths of sheep in a flock may reach as high as 70 per cent.
  • Animals that survive the disease can lose condition with a reduction in meat and wool production.

Source Defra.

For more detailed information visit the Defra website.

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What Is Bluetongue?

In September bluetongue was detected in British livestock but what is blue tongue?

“Bluetongue is a disease of animals affecting all ruminants, including sheep, cattle, deer, goats and camelids (camels, llamas, alpacas, guanaco and vicuña). It does not affect horses. Although sheep are most severely affected, cattle are the main mammalian reservoir of the virus…… Bluetongue does not affect humans.” Defra.

How are these animals infected?

Bluetongue is caused by a virus which is carried by midges. The midges transmit the virus from one animal to another.

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Signs Of Foot And Mouth Disease In Sheep

The Foot And Mouth Disease that plagued the UK back in 2001 is back in the UK and with a number of FMD cases identified in the last few months it is important that everyone knows what signs to look out for.

“Foot and mouth disease is an infectious disease affecting cloven-hoofed animals, in particular cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and deer.” Defra.

Signs of Foot And Mouth Disease In Sheep

  • Sudden, severe lameness.
  • Lies down frequently and is very unwilling to rise.
  • When made to rise stands in a half-crouching position, with hind legs brought well forward.
  • Reluctant to move.
  • Blisters may be found on the hoof where the horn joins the skin which may extend all round the coronet and in the cleft of the foot. When they burst the horn is separated from the tissues underneath, and hair round the hoof may appear damp.
  • Blisters may appear on the dental pad and sometimes the tongue.
  • Fatigue in young lambs.
  • Higher rate of lamb mortality and abortions.
  • Ewes unwilling to allow lambs to suckle.

Source: Defra.

For more detailed information visit the Defra website.

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What Frightens Farm Animals?

Farm animals can sometimes get frightened but what is it that frightens them?

  • Sudden movement.
  • Sudden noise.
  • Unfamiliar people.
  • Loud noises.
  • Approaching animals from behind.
  • Lack of routine.
  • Prodding animals.
  • Bumping or shoving animals.
  • Lack of space.
  • Excitable human behaviour.
  • Farm animals need to be managed and handled with care at all times.


    Foot And Mouth Back In The UK

    The foot and mouth disease is back in the UK. It was reported yesterday that a farm in Guildford, Surrey has cattle infected with foot and mouth.

    This is very worrying news for farmers like ourselves. Not only are we having to deal with ruined potato crops and the difficult harvest brought on by the recent floods and bad weather but now the threat of disease is once more a burden facing farmers.

    A ban has been placed on the movement of livestock and farmers are being asked to inspect their livestock closely.

    Lets hope that this is an isolated outbreak and that livestock farmer’s including ourselves are not affected by this disease.

    Visit Defra for more information about foot and mouth.

    Read the Farmer’s Weekly report on the foot and mouth outbreak.

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    An Assisted Lambing

    Back in January my husband and I went to film some lambs being born, which was a story in itself (Nature Waits For No Man, Not Even A Camera Man).

    Watch this video clip of an assisted lambing with two lambs being born and then the ewe bonding with her lambs only minutes later.

    I hope you enjoyed watching Lazy Bones The Ewe giving birth and bonding with Sootie and Charcoal the Lambs.

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