Monday 19 November 2012

Not Ready Just Yet

On Friday 16th, former plasterer and more recently sheep mentor and supplier, Kenny O'C arrives in his big shiny 4x4 to take a look at our sheep. We had thought we were doing really well with the sheep obviously thriving and getting bigger before our eyes. We 'knew' that when they arrived on the 20th September, 8 weeks ago, they weighed 31-33 kg so we were sure they'd be easily 50 kg by now and ready for the butcher. In my wilder moments I even imagined that Kenny, when he did eventually see them would be telling us off for letting them get too fat. I say 'knew' in inverted commas - I'll explain.

So, Kenny arrived and looked them over and his first comment was that they still had 'a way to go' which was a bit depressing. We bribed them into a corner of the paddock where we could wedge them against the fence using the gate and get a good feel across spine and rib cage and Ken showed me that you could still feel each rib, which should by now be too covered with flesh. He then called for the bathroom scales which we set up on a concrete area. He weighed himself (84.5 kg) and then grabbed up each sheep in turn, holding it round the chest as a 10 year old would carry a 5 year old sister, and weighed himself with each sheep. They 'proved' to be almost 38 kg each. I was appalled and distressed that we'd "only got 5-7 kg onto each one" in 8 weeks. Both Liz and I now think that maybe we haven't. Either they weren't 31-33 when they arrived, or they aren't 38 now. Even if this bathroom scales method is accurate (which has got to be in question) then the chances of Kenny's scales being the same as ours is tiny. Kenny may also be genuinely mistaken. I do not want to entertain the aspect that he sold us these by weight and therefore might have erred in his own favour, he is a nice bloke who we like a lot and we can't believe he'd be up to any such mischief.

Anyway he had a small amount of wormer/liver fluke medicine in his truck and gave each of them 10 ml just in case. He pronounced them in perfect health and said that the ground would be 'clean' anyway because no sheep had been on it in at least 15 years, but the dose would do no harm,. He also advised us to change (over a week) from the 'Ewe and Lamb Nuts' we had been feeding, to something called "Fast Lamb Crunch" and to increase the amount fed. The former is made mainly of grass and is to support the lactating ewes. The latter is a much higher performance feed, rich in all manner of grains, molasses etc and is designed to put weight onto lambs in a hurry. We still have plenty of grass, said Kenny, but start giving them each a double handful of the crunch morning and evening and even hay on frosty mornings. Try to keep their bellies full and active all the time. The hay is only €3 a bale and the crunch is only €9 a bag, and the one I bought should, says Kenny, see us out. Under this regime, Kenny is convinced that these babies will reach their desired 50 kg by the proposed slaughter date, which is currently Thursday Dec 13th.

At least the slaughterhouse will have proper professional scales and we apparently get a print out with the ear-tag numbers against each weight, so we'll even know the individual scores for Connie, Dora and Florence.

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