Buy buy lambs

Well, today is a day of mixed emotions. The lambs are off to be sold. Over 40 of them loaded onto a lorry and off to Aberdeenshire they go, never to be seen again. On the other side, cha-ching! Finally some cash coming in after nothing but spend, spend, spend for the rest of the year.

I’m sure lots of folk think crofters are blood-thirsty lamb killers but that’s so far from the truth!

On Saturday I put the lambs out to our reseeding to save time today. A mere hop, skip and a jump and they were back in the fank, ready to go.


That’s Ally Williamson and Tommy Graham sorting out the lambs, which are then loaded on board.

Roddy Norrie looks while Gordon the driver gets things ready




They leave Lewis on the ferry tonight, bound for the sale in Thainstone on Thursday. Fingers crossed I’ll have my cheque by Saturday or Monday. This is the only income I make from the croft so always a nervous time. I don’t work the croft as a money-making exercise but a little extra is always nice!



So we all admired our handiwork before heading home. I had a passenger though, one wee lamb that I decided not to send away. I’d been in two minds about it but he got a last minute reprieve as he wasn’t in good enough condition. As you can see, he suffers from Beul Beag – I think the English is short or small mouth. The bottom jaw shorter than the top



That doesn’t sound too bad but it means they can’t eat properly. This lamb is one of the worst I’ve seen suffering from this. The teeth on the bottom should meet the pad at the top


I’m not quite sure what to do with him. I don’t know if he will survive the winter, we’ll have to wait and see if he does, then he might be ok for the freezer next year.

And speaking of freezers, ours will be full soon, with 6 wedders off to slaughter tomorrow. I walked them down the road to make it easy to load them tomorrow


And they’re now sitting on death row, awaiting the big chop tomorrow. Next time we see these guys, they’ll look very different


Oh and buy buy lambs is a deliberate pun!


  1. It mustn’t be a light task to sell the lambs and I understand that it is a well earned and needed income! I just wonder if you know what will happen to the animals on the road?
    I read the following article last week (see below) and was a bit concerned.
    Are you told about the security that there is no unnecessary suffering? Please, I am not criticizing YOU at all! I just would like to know if a crofter has the opportunity to know where and how his sheep go and are treated? I like your blog and was very interested in the preparation of the Gugas….

    Breaking news: The end of UK live exports?
    On 12th September 2012 a 4-tiered lorry, crammed with sheep for live export, rolled into Ramsgate past a group of dedicated protestors, including members of KAALE and TALE. The lorry was destined for the Continent. It has long been known that the port at Ramsgate is simply not fit for this purpose. And what happened next exposed a litany of extraordinary cruelty and utter incompetence. It also prompted a decision by Thanet District Council which could bring about the end of live exports from the UK.
    A shipment of farm animals leaving Ramsgate

    A previous shipment of farm animals leaving Ramsgate

    Image courtesy of Kent Action Against Live Export (KAALE). Photographer Val Cameron.

    The lorry was met by RSPCA and Animal Health Inspectors. The detail of what happened next is not yet clear but reports indicate that the lorry was stopped due to vehicle faults. We believe this lorry has been stopped more than once for similar reasons in the past. The true extent to which the lorry was not ‘fit for purpose’ was about to become much clearer.

    The sheep were unloaded while the transporters sought a replacement lorry. Two sheep, one with a broken leg, had to be euthanized due to their injuries. Six sheep fell into water after they were moved into an area where the floor collapsed. Four were rescued by RSPCA Officers, but two drowned. The horror of that moment and the swift actions of the RSPCA Officers are sure to be remembered by all involved for a long time.

    Following these tragedies a vet examined all the animals. Another 41 were found to be severely lame and had to be euthanized. We have been told that approximately half of that number had foot rot (a very painful condition) or other longer standing illnesses. This report raises the question of how they were judged to be fit to travel?

    The other half had broken limbs, dislocated joints or severe muscle damage. Our sources indicate the cause of these dreadful injuries could be found in the lorry. It appears that the hydraulic floors were not fit for purpose and left a gap between the walls and the floor. It is thought that the injured sheep got their limbs caught in the gap during transit.

    In all 45 sheep died.

    The suffering caused was completely preventable. Live animal export must be stopped. It must be replaced by a trade in meat. And the good news is that on 13th September Thanet Council temporarily suspended live exports from Ramsgate.

    • I think the fact the article describes it as “extraordinary cruelty and utter incompetence” says a lot about the driver and/or company that were involved in this incident.

      Having seen the care and time the driver, Gordon, took to prepare this lorry and make sure that there weren’t too many animals in the different compartments (the lambs are split into compartments of around 25 animals), I have no worries at all about the transport of my animals.

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone I know losing an animal in transit – and that would cover thousands of animals.

      These lambs go to Thainstone in Aberdeenshire and where they go from then, I have no idea – that depends on who buys them. As of Thursday, they no longer belong to me and I have no input in their destination.

      I am 100% confident that they will be treated well though. It is not in anyone’s interest not to treat them as well as possible – both from an animal welfare point of view and financial – the buyers do not buy them and then lose them!

  2. Pingback: Lamb Sales « Air an Lot

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