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Re: Sheep "brands" [was: Cow Brands]

From:Stephen Mulraney <ataltanie@...>
Date:Saturday, June 12, 2004, 22:30
Barbara Barrett wrote:

>>Mark Mentioned; >> >> ><snip> > > >>I've seen sheep "branding" in the north of England, but they use splotches >>of paint in different colors. AFAIK, the choice of colors are only locally >>significant, worked out among the affected owners in an area -- no formal >>registration or anything like cattle brands. >> >> > >Barbara Babbles; >I've lived in "sheep country" (Southern England/Scotland/Northern Ireland) >most of my adult life and I've never seen or heard of using paint/dye on >sheep for this purpose. While I don't doubt your veracity Mark, I find it >hard to imagine an area where such marking would be needed, except on Common >Land. But, Common Land that is still used for grazing rather than >recreation, is almost non existent nowadays. Indeed because Common Land is >always used by folk walking their dogs it'd be rather silly to graze sheep >on it even if grazing was still permitted. Only on Common Land would it be >possible for herds to mix; except for the commons, every square inch of the >UK is owned by someone. So where exactly in the North of England was this >practice you describe used? > >
I can't say I've looked very attentively at sheep while I've been living in England in recent years (not many of them around the West Midlands area), but certainly sheep in Ireland are marked with distinct coloured symbols. Ok, I can't vouch for NI, but all through the Republic sheep with such marks can be seen. I think the absence of such markings would be quite noticeable, and I suspect that any sheep I've seen in England and Wales have had markings too. In Ireland, sheep are often grazed on private land, but you'd be hard pressed to find a mountain anywhere in the county that didn't have sheep grazing on all sides of it, mostly on common land. You're quite right when you point out the conflict between the recreational and sheep-farming uses of such land, but that doesn't stop farmers, some of whom have quite a hostile attitude to people walking (potentially with dogs) though common land where some of their sheep happen to be grazing. Understandable I suppose, I suppose, but suggesting that the idea of the "commons" isn't being viewed in good faith. (Recently, while walking on the Belbulbin plateau, we found that a number of public rights of way had been blocked with fences and signs suggesting that use of these rights of way was discouraged by the landowner. Quite frustrating. Clearly, there is a conflict, but sheep are kept on both common and public-right-of-way land) . Needless to say, sheep on the sides of mountains _do_ have markings.
>Are you by any chance confusing the practice of marking impregnated ewes by >painting the belly of the Ram with dye which is transferred to the ewe >during sex? The farmer then knows not only which ewes have been impregnated >but also by using a different colour for each ram which bloodline produced >which lambs. > >
I'm talking about distinct markings in red or blue paint, somewhat like the Texas cattle-brands shown on the site linked to earlier, though less elaborate. They're not smudges, they're clear, distinct, evidently hand-painted and consistently placed.
>If this was the case the coloured splodge would usually be on the ewe's >hindquarters: but not always. Sometimes a farmer will mark a ewe on the head >that he's keeping an eye on for one reason or another so as he can spot her >easily and remove her from the herd as soon as markings show on her >hindquarters. > >
Makes sense.
>Marking sheep with colours=owners would preclude using this simple way of >sorting out impregnated sheep - unless there were a lot colours and the >farmers didn't mind if X's ram impregnated Y's ewe and literally screwed up >their breeding progamme! > >
I've only ever seen a handful of colours used (I can only recall having seen blue and red, actually). Are there so few rams? Well, I don't know. s. --- Stephen Mulraney Klein bottle for rent ... inquire within.