Spring Has Sprung Early At Houghall

Sun, 2000-10-29 01:00

Spring has come early at East Durham College's Houghall Campus.

A sure sign of spring is the arrival of lambs at farms across England, and that’s a sight that can now be seen at East Durham College’s Houghall Campus.

The first lambs of the year were born this week and brought into the world with a little help from Animal Care student Beverley Knox, who along with partner Mark Fenwick is undertaking work experience at the College’s Farm.

Although more experienced at delivering puppies with their own dogs, both students got stuck in to deliver two healthy lambs.

Bev, who is 24 and from Shotton, said: “The lambing was a little like helping at a whelping, however unlike a whelping this will continue solidly for the next 6 weeks!”

The lambs are the first of hopefully 170 that are due between now and Easter.

So Farm Manager Peter Whitfield and the College’s agricultural and animal care students now have the busy task of making sure the sheep and their new arrivals are all happy and healthy.

“We always time breeding so that our flock starts lambing before the main farming community. That way our students get lambing experience at the College and are then ready to help out on farms across the region and get valuable work experience when lambing time proper starts,” explained Peter.

Livestock Manager Pete Williamson added: “It is good to have students present at this time of the year as the sheep really need constant supervision," and this allows him to carry on with other duties while students work in the lambing shed.

Some Sheepy Facts:

There are around 20 million breeding sheep in the UK and a further 20 million lambs under a year old. Nearly all of the sheep meat that is consumed is lamb which is both succulent and tasty and has been prized for generations.

Sheep have a gestation period of 5 months.

A normal labour takes one to three hours.

Farmers give their sheep scans so they know how many lambs each sheep is expecting.

Most sheep have single or twin lambs.

When a sheep has not lambed before they are known as a ‘Gimmer’.