SHEEP AT WOODCHURCH HIGH SCHOOL!
WHAT TYPE OF SHEEP?
Woodchurch High School Farm has brought the country to Birkenhead with a flock of 7 North Ronaldsay Sheep. These join the “gang” of 5 ex-Battery hens already kept on site. The little flock arrived on Monday 10th December 2010 and consist of one Ram, 3 ewes and three year-old lambs. The sheep are a rare breed from the Orkney Islands who usual diet is seaweed! They have settled in really well and seem to love running up and down their hill!
The biggest one with the impressive curly horns is the elderly Ram. We have called him Hamish and he is especially pleased to have found a home here as originally we were only supposed to get two ewes! The three older ewes all have a “matching” lamb. The blonde ewe is called Dolly and her little Ram-Lamb, Fergus, is also blonde but has horns. Because he is related to the ewes and so can’t stay with them, he was supposed to go to market and come back as Lamb Burgers! But he is such a little character, and we have plenty of grass, that we decided to keep him. He has been castrated this month and so is now able to stay with his flock. The bigger chocolate coloured ewe with horns is called Morag, and her ewe lamb is the little chocolate one with horns. Sheep of either gender in this breed can have horns. The last chocolate ewe is called Anabelle. Her ewe lamb looks just like her and also does not have horns. The two year-old ewe lambs have no names at present and we welcome any suggestions!
LAMBS DUE IN MARCH
Mrs Heidi Moulton said “We thought that two of the female sheep might possibly be expecting lambs, but when the Vet came in January she scanned all the ewes and to our delight we discovered that 4 of the 5 girls are pregnant and the lambs should be expected from March onwards”.
Pupils in Year 10 studying for the Diploma in Environmental and Land Based Studies are currently learning to look after all the animals in school, as well as helping out with lambing and other farm animal care duties. Hopefully all our pupils will get to learn about the life of these animals as well as other aspects of farming in the brand new “Horticulture and Agriculture” site on school grounds.
What will happen to the lambs?
When the flock are more established after the new lambs are born, although we will be keeping the stronger lambs to increase the stock, the weaker ones will get fattened up to go to market to help fund continuing to keep the animals on school site. Pupils should also learn to face facts about where their food comes from and develop a sense of awareness that animals for food should be keep in decent conditions like ours are. Most animals kept for meat in this country sadly do NOT have such a lovely life. The sheep will also provide wool for sale to help pay for their keep. Some is going to be used in Textiles for felt making, but we will also be selling their exceptionally soft wool to local craft workers.
When can we come and see the lambs?
The school will hold open days in April on a Saturday for people to come and welcome the new arrivals.
Two little piglets are expected to join the Woodchurch menagerie in May. They are from Kune Kune pigs which means “small-round” in Maori.
HORTICULTURE AND AGRICULTURE AT WOODCHURCH
Signs of Spring are all over the Horticulture and Agricultural area. Bluebells are just appearing in one of the semi circles, and daffodils are full bloom. The sheep have been scanned by the Vet in January and four of the ewes are definitely expecting lambs. Three of the older ewes are due any day now and we are keeping a close eye on them with checks twice a day and once during the night.
They have been separated from the rest of the flock to give them access to the sheep shed and to make it easier to help them if there are any difficulties during labour. A "Lamb box" has been set up in one of the polytunnels, to provide intensive care in the event of a weak lamb. Made of a strong wooden crate, it has a soft bedding of straw and an infra-red light to warm and support any lambs not doing so well, or any triplets, although we hope it will never have to be used.
The incubators have arrived for hatching some eggs in April, and a new Chicken House has been ordered. We are going to hatch Buff and Blue Orpington Chicks and hope to breed our own next year. We are very lucky to have Roy- a volunteer worker from the local community- who comes into school every week to help out with the animals. Next on the list are pygmy goats, we have been offered three kids and just have to make sure everything is ready for their arrival at the end of May.
After the lambs are born and the chicks have hatched we are hoping to hold an open day so look out for notices in the press and from school.
SHEEP PEN GETTING BUILT