31 August 2001

AUTUMNTUPFORCULLSURVIVORS

HERDWICK ewes are usually tupped at three years old, on John Harrisons farm. But his 300 away wintered shearlings that escaped the cull will have to be tupped this autumn.

"Shearlings will lamb okay, but it can take a lot out of them and they can be difficult to get back in-lamb the following year. But this autumn everything we have left will be bred from."

He hopes to bring replacement sheep home before the end of summer and turn them on to in-bye land, before opening the gate to the fell. Running on lower land for so long has caused more foot problems among these normally hard-footed sheep, so keeping them close at hand will ensure they can be carefully shepherded.

Mr Harrison hopes ewes will have retained the hefting instinct after being away from the fell for so long, but fears the fact that the fell is now so devoid of sheep could be a problem.

"Different hefts of sheep grazing their own areas act as a natural barrier and ensure sheep stay on their own piece of fell. With so few sheep left, there is a risk young ewes could start to drift. We will have a lot more shepherding to do," he says. &#42

HERDWICK ewes are usually tupped at three years old, on John Harrisons farm. But his 300 away wintered shearlings that escaped the cull will have to be tupped this autumn.

"Shearlings will lamb okay, but it can take a lot out of them and they can be difficult to get back in-lamb the following year. But this autumn everything we have left will be bred from."

He hopes to bring replacement sheep home before the end of summer and turn them on to in-bye land, before opening the gate to the fell. Running on lower land for so long has caused more foot problems among these normally hard-footed sheep, so keeping them close at hand will ensure they can be carefully shepherded.

Mr Harrison hopes ewes will have retained the hefting instinct after being away from the fell for so long, but fears the fact that the fell is now so devoid of sheep could be a problem.

"Different hefts of sheep grazing their own areas act as a natural barrier and ensure sheep stay on their own piece of fell. With so few sheep left, there is a risk young ewes could start to drift. We will have a lot more shepherding to do," he says. &#42