Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Family Make Light Work of Tagging Their Mule Ewes

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Family Make Light Work of Tagging Their Mule Ewes

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jennifer MacKenzie

Labour input is kept to a minimum at Greenquarries, Rosley, Cumbria, where several thousand bought-in Mule ewe hoggs ( run on and sold the following autumn ( have been the backbone of the enterprise for more than three decades.

Peter and Frances Hetherington and their son Philip farm the 488-acre Church Commissioners holding, where they have also diversified into simulated game and clay pigeon shooting in a disused quarry.

Up to 4,000-plus North of England Mule ewe lambs have been bought at autumn breeding sheep sales.

They are sold on the following autumn without having produced a lamb and each shearling has to be individually tagged with an S tag to identify the holding.

For the last three years, the Hetheringtons have used an automatic sheep tagging system, the Adamatic from Scottish borders specialist tag manufacturer Roxan ID.

This dramatically cuts time and labour in a welfare-friendly operation.

Among those who have also taken up the system are The Royal College of Agriculture at Cirencester, SAC, Roslin, and many leading sheep producers and breeders.

In the 12 months to April 2005, Roxan tag sales have trebled to five million in the UK thanks to the popularity of Adamatic.

This represents one in five UK lambs/sheep.

Peter and Philip run Greenquarries without any additional labour, relying on contractors to sow and harvest the 55 acres of cereals as well as doing fencing and work to meet Countryside Stewardship requirements.

Apart from 25 acres of swedes and a further 25 acres of set-aside, the farm is all down to grass with the sheep being outwintered.

"We have been running this system for more than 30 years. It works well for the farm, which is on heavy clay land and we can stock the sheep quite heavily per acre," said Peter Hetherington. …

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