Border Leicester ID

We have 10 lambs on the ground and we’re waiting for more.  With all of the girls pregnant and rather waddly, I took the opportunity to tackle a long overdue project: Identify my Border Leicesters and put names to faces.

Sue Johnson sold me 14 lovely prime-age Borders- 5 black and 9 white.  One of the white ones succumbed to an irreparable leg injury, leaving 8 white ewes.   The ewes have small flock-tags with four numbers, and round, white USDA Scrapie tags.  The issue is that the flock tags are small and the scrapie tags are grubby.  Some ewes are missing their flock tags altogether.  This flock is pedigreed and registered, so I wanted to figure out which sheep needed replacement flock tags and how I might keep track of the new tags.

Sheep move quickly and though the flock has calmed down considerably since the week when we tried to get them into the barn, most still won’t let me get within 4 feet of their ears so I can read dirty tags.   Nevertheless, I was able to determine that I had 7/8 white Border Leicesters that I should have.  But I also had a mystery.  I had a ewe on hand tagged as 1620, but she wasn’t on the purchase list.  I also had no sign of ewe 2507, even after matching the scrapie tags all up.  I let Sue know, and we soon realized that she had accidentally sent me the wrong sheep.  She was embarrassed to have mis-loaded a ewe, and I was embarrassed to have not known for six months, so we called it even and had a good laugh.

Here are some photos from my ewe-ID adventures:

A perfect illustration of the challenges of photographing sheep’s ears- This photo is blurry, there is wool blocking the tag, and the camera has washed out the tag completely trying to capture the brownness of the brown!
This picture is a successful one, believe it or not!  This is ewe VT13-256, if you can’t tell.  She has no 4-digit flock tag, but she is ewe 1411, age 3, and as big as an aircraft carrier.
And here is the the mystery ewe!  1620, whom I photographed as she lay by her lambs.
Lots of photos like this from friendlier ewes.  This is no help to naming this gal!


Here is the sales slip to match names, registrations and numbers.  Registered ewes have a faint “R” and black ones a faint “B”

I have a bit more to say about Sue Johnson’s flock:  She has many more sheep to sell as she downsizes to a more manageable flock size.   These sheep are really fine animals and are perfect for flocks managed as an enterprise.  They have desirable wool and grow out large (Sue had some ram lambs dress out at 70 lbs!).   Too many Vermont sheep farms lose money because they raise breeds that finish too small, making it challenging to recoup the cost of slaughter with just 35 lbs of meat.   These Border Leicesters are productive and very easy to care for.  They have sweet personalities and jolly little faces.

We would like to find someone who would like 10 or more and who would keep them purebred for both meat and wool traits.  Sue has provided me with helpful mentorship.    With another nearby farm with similar goals, it would be much easier to justify bringing expensive but high-quality rams from flocks across the country.

Could you be the shepherd for this flock?  Get in touch: