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THE PEDIGREE OXFORD DOWN FLOCK'S YEAR


A flock of pedigree Oxford Down ewes in full fleece
(Photo courtesy of M C Hackling)

A typical registered pedigree Oxford Down flock consists of around 25 ewes, which produce rams for sale and replacement breeding females. Surplus females are also sold. The activities during the year for a ram-breeding Oxford Down flock are described below.

DECEMBER
Lambing begins. The ewes will be inside by now in a strawed shed. As ewes lamb they are taken from the main flock of ewes and placed in individual pens to mother their lambs. The ewes will be on a diet of hay and concentrate.

JANUARY
Lambing continues. Lambs born last month will begin to eat creep feed to help them grow quickly. Most breeders will ear mark their lambs soon after lambing to identify them and record which lambs came from which ewes.

FEBRUARY
Lambing is completed. Last year's lambs intended to be shown will be bare shorn, as per the Association's rules. Sell cast ewes and rams.

MARCH
Ewes and lambs will be put out to graze on pastures, which are showing early spring growth. Creep feeding continues.

APRIL
Earliest-born lambs will be weaned from their mothers. These will be the biggest lambs and the best will be selected for showing as lambs this season and possibly for sale. Selection and preparation of shearlings for the early shows begins. Start selling lambs which are not good enough for pedigree breeding as prime lambs.

MAY
Show season begins at the end of the month. Last year's ram lambs intended for sale only in September are bare shorn. The Association publishes the Flock Book. Continue selling poorer lambs as prime lambs.

JUNE
Show season continues. Shear ewes. Sort through flock and identify the ewes that will be retained and put to the ram and those which will be sold as cast ewes. Also assess stud rams and decide if a new ram is required.

JULY
Show season continues. Prepare breeders' rams and ewes for Worcester Show & Sale. Buy new stud ram. Put rams out with ewes from middle of the month.

AUGUST
Show season continues. Tupping continues. Association AGM & Open Day - a chance to view another flock and meet fellow breeders. Some breeders will shear ewe lambs at this time.

SEPTEMBER
Show season ends. Tupping ends. Sell crossing rams at Kelso and Builth Wells.

OCTOBER
Final selection of ewe lambs being retained for registration as flock replacements.

NOVEMBER
Association issues Annual Return Form and Registration Forms. Fill in details of number of Oxfords on farm and register any new stud rams and ewe lambs being retained for pedigree breeding.