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Sheep 'brands' [was: Cow Brands]

From:Mark P. Line <mark@...>
Date:Saturday, June 12, 2004, 18:38
Barbara Barrett said:
>> 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.
Sheep are sometimes moved from A to B through the middle of a village and along a country road with no fences or hedges on either side. This isn't Common Land, but it's still a communal area where flocks can get mixed up.
> So where exactly in the North of England was this > practice you describe used?
I've seen marked sheep (distinct spray-painted circles on the side, not smudgy marks in a series of colors on the top of their hindquarters from multiple copulations with differently marked rams) everywhere I went in the British isles. Seeing sheep without these marks would have been a noticeable event, so I don't remember the specific context of particular instances of seeing marked ones. North England: Lake District, Peak District, environs of Huddersfield Scotland: Ayrshire, Skye/Lochalsh Wales: Brecon Beacons Cornwall: all over
> 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?
> 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.
Anything's possible, of course. I'm well known for my complete inability to detect bullshit... So, what are the exact contortions that ram and ewe get into which cause a perfectly legible pair of characters like "R9" to be transferred from the ram's belly to the ewe's *side*? (In the age of the European Union, locally differentiated paint splotches no longer suffice. Large alphanumeric symbols are being used on the animals' sides when a lot of sheep have to be marked cheaply, but tattoos and other earmarks are being used as well now. EU legislation requires all sheep to be marked -- before they leave the holding area where they were born, as I understand it. Maybe your experience in sheep country came after they started to use more earmarks and fewer side splotches. My extended visits to the areas listed above were in the late 70's and early 80's.) Me, I think the sheep have just gotten really good at playing paintball. They probably have some sort of scoring system that accounts for the alphanumeric hits. You know, like putting your "R9" handle on the opponent's side makes her lose face even more, so you get more points from the hit. Or something like that. -- Mark


Joe <joe@...>
Barbara Barrett <barbarabarrett@...>