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Sheep "brands" [was: Cow Brands]

From:Barbara Barrett <barbarabarrett@...>
Date:Saturday, June 12, 2004, 12:06
> Mark Mentioned;
> 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? 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. 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. 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! On the other hand, Its a tradition in sheep areas to see which local can come up with the most implausible explanation for the sheep markings that a tourist believes. I recall showing a tourist around County Enniskillen with my landlady's son Sandy. The tourist asked why the sheep had bright blue or orange paint on them: before Sandy could spin him a yarn I jumped in and explained the markings truthfully. Sandy was visibly disappointed that I'd spoiled his fun until the tourist pointed at one ewe and asked "Why's that one got paint on its forehead?"; to which Sandy very quickly replied with a totally straight face; "Ach, sure that one's Ram likes blow jobs.". 8-) You can't win. Barbara


Mark P. Line <mark@...>Sheep 'brands' [was: Cow Brands]
Stephen Mulraney <ataltanie@...>