Posted by: 347bennetrd | December 8, 2010

It’s Tailing Time

So about this time of the year (well actually early November, but I’ve been slack and haven’t written a post about it) is tailing time.  It’s one of the big jobs on the annual farming calendar.  I remember the old days when we’d gather up everyone on the farm (even Mum would have to come and give a hand) but nowadays, its the era of the contractor.  Woohoo!

They are crazy fast though – while we’re mustering up the mob, they’re putting up the portable yards.  We  bring the mob up and gather them into a large pen from where they draft the sheep and separate the ewes from lambs.   Bedlam!!  Mums and babies are baa-ing frantically, and the tailing gang are already sending lambs down the shute.

I was too nervous to take any photos during our main tailing (I didn’t want to be the one to hold things up) but later on, Dad, Blake and I took our old set of Prattley yards up the hill to tail a mob of late ones.   Here we are setting up the yards;

Then, we run the sheep through the drafting race, letting the ewes run straight out and keeping the lambs in the pen.  This is where the decibel level drastically increases.

You can see the blue shute that the lambs go down in the middle.   There are a number of actions that need to happen to each lamb – here we were doing a couple each, but when the tailing gang does it, there’s one person for each job and the pressure is on to go as quickly as possible!

First there are usually two people picking up the lambs and inserting them into the shute.  Then each lamb needs to be given a selenium drench, earmarked – right ear for girls and left ear for boys, boys get a rubber ring round their balls (involuntary indrawn breath from male readers, I know), a scabby mouth scratch to innoculate them against this, and finally a rubber ring round the tail.

Here you can see a lamb about to be earmarked, and another one about the be ‘ringed’.








And the final photo is of the last lamb who was the cutest.  The wee lambs usually manage to hide until the very end.  On a big version of this photo you can see the little blue scratch in his back leg “armpit”.

You might think I was doing nothing except take photos, but actually I was drenching and doing the scratchies.  My worst job is definitely doing the earmarking.  You get a sore hand from doing it all day and I had a few problems where I didn’t do it very well and ended up ripping the whole tip of the ear off instead of making a neat nick.  Booo…  It was only the presence of the tailing gang that stopped me from crying when I did that.


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