We are a small farm of 20 acres based in the Weald of Kent and we rear rare and traditional livestock.
We are self-sufficient in lamb and pork and sell the surplus meat. We also rear bronze turkeys for the Christmas market.
The first livestock to arrive on the farm 9 years ago were Manx Loaghtan Ewes and lambs. These rare breed primitive sheep originate from the Isle of Man. They are a horned breed of sheep which are extremely hardy and easy to keep. They are dark chocolate brown to black when first born and as they grow the sun bleaches their fleece to pale brown. However, once sheared the chocolate brown (loaghtan) can once again be seen. Their fleeces are often used for spinning and weaving. The Manx Loaghtan sheep browse the meadows and are often used for Conservation Grazing, being an ideal choice as they are so self-sufficient.
This year we had 4 ewes that had come to the end of their breeding life and commercially this would mean being sent to market as cull ewes for slaughter. These ewes have produced lambs for us since we started here and it was a difficult decision to make. However, we have to be practical about these things otherwise the farm would become a rescue centre for anything and everything, cost a fortune and we would have nothing to eat!
We have always refused to send our livestock to market, as we have no control over where the sheep will end up and how they will be treated. We take the animals ourselves to a nearby slaughter house to keep journey times to a minimum. There is a vet at the slaughter house and often an animal welfare representative. We also arrive early to minimize any stressful waiting.
It was therefore decided that these 4 ewes would have to be culled after weaning in July. I struggled with my conscience while watching the ewes and their lambs playing in the fields and decided I would try to re-home them somehow or other before D day.
This is where Dawn (WMI) comes in, I knew that this breed were great for conservation grazing and so decided to email any local groups in a vain hope that someone would consider giving a retirement home to some elderly but spritely old ladies! Dawn very kindly replied to my email and agreed to try and help. She passed my details on to a lady who had always wanted to keep sheep and had more than enough grazing for them.
The end result……. Dutchess, Clover, Cordelia and Amelia (pictured)have hopefully now found a wonderful retirement home, all together from July.
It just remains to thank Dawn and Tanja for their help and support. Simon and Kim Everett.