[A] "sire sine" harnesses [is fitted] to the rams. They are leather harnesses that are tightly buckled on around the chest and shoulders in such a way as carry a coloured chalk pad fitted securely against the brisket, between the forelegs. ...The idea is that the chalk on the ram's brisket will colour the wool on the rump of the ewe when he serves her. If none of the ewes in a batch have been coloured by the ram at the end of a week-or-so, he can be replaced by another, known "worker".Most farmers change their rams round different groups of ewes at the end of the first oestrous cycle ... . At that stage, the colour of the chalk can be changed on the rams. So, if the colour of chalk for the first service was say blue, and that for the second service or oestrous cycle is red, then any ewes returning will be coloured red and blue. If that happens consistently in a group you can be fairly sure that the previous ram is infertile.This simple practice has other uses. For instance, it allows you to know fairly accurately when ewes are due to lamb. ...That allows the farmer to bring the first batch of ewes into the lambing shed, or sheltered field and lamb them before he turns his attention to the second batch. Those that were never marked with any colour can be assumed to be barren and sold.Knowing when different batches of ewes are due to lamb also allows the farmer to feed different batches more accurately depending on their stage of pregnancy. Not only does that save on the cost of feeding, but it also allows farmers to have their sheep in ideal condition for lambing - neither too fat or too thin.
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