There’s No Accounting for Farm Animals
A (Nearly) True Story
Don Smith

He had just qualified as a fully fledged accountant and his first job was to oversee the running of a farming enterprise situated in the North of Scotland, a very long way from his London office. He liked the country. He would spend a happy Sunday motoring out of town to find farmland where, after a short walk, he would repair to the local pub for lunch. It was there that he encountered what he perceived to be suspicious looks from men who did not wear a tie, even on a Sunday; they always travelled in muddy trucks and wore muddy wellies. He tried to be friendly and get to know these farm natives and indeed he did so, with some success. He thought it would be helpful in his first assignment, that farm in the North. However, he knew his financial duty. He would be on guard against all the tricks that these Crafty Country Folk (CCF) get up to when called to account for their enterprises and no-one, not even friendly CCF, would pull the wool over his eyes. He really was clever, enthusiastic and determined to succeed and his Boss would be pleased with his diligence.

The clever enthusiastic accountant (CEA) wrote to the (CCF):- "You must provide more detail than you supply in your monthly stock return of farm animals and I want the statement to be submitted weekly".

CCF replied:- "Certainly. What precise details are you requesting?"

CEA:- "For example, you provide just a single figure for the total number of sheep. I am quite well aware that the stock value of a sheep is a function of its age. A young sheep, a sheep in its prime, and an elderly sheep will have different capital values. I need to have this breakdown of information for valuation and farm performance monitoring purposes",

CFF:- "The age criterion for differentiating between animals is not the most appropriate. It would be better to use a more functional basis."

CEA:- "What do you suggest".

CFF:- "I will try to explain. A sheep gives birth to a Lamb and the lamb runs with the Ewe (locally pronounced Yow) for several months. If the lamb is a female she is a Ewe Lamb. She may be kept for breeding or, a few months later, she may be finished off (fattened) by the farmer prior to being finished off completely at the abattoir.

If kept for breeding after her first shearing, she is known as a Gimmer and is now a Shearling Ewe. At 18 months she will be Tupped and because she is in lamb can be called A Grit Ewe. Next year, after giving birth to a lamb or lambs, the Gimmer will be Tupped again but, now as having been sheared twice she .has become a Two Shear Ewe, followed in subsequent years by being a Three Shear and then a Four Shear or Five Shear. An alternative classification is based on their teeth; at four years old the ewe is known as a Full Mouthed Ewe and subsequently she becomes a Broken Mouthed Ewe. She will retain this status until she is judged fit only for school dinners, mutton pies, or to appear on the menus of Greek restaurants which specialise in dishes featuring mutton. Older sheep are sometimes sold under warranty as correct in mouth and udder, to farmers wanting to chance a few more years of breeding. Not all Ewes breed successfully, some throw their lambs and become Keb Ewes, some prove to be barren and are known as Eild or Yeld Ewes.

A Hoggie, as opposed to Hogg, is any sheep up until the age of two. When the ……."

CEA:- "Go more slowly please. I am having difficulty in absorbing all this."

CCF, who is now in full cry:- "In early August the lambs and ewes will be separated, that is, they are Speaned (pronounced Spent) or Weaned.A new born male lamb may be castrated to become a Wedder or Wether Lamb and allowed to run with his Ewe before being finished off (fattened) by the farmer prior to being finished off completely at the abattoir.

If not castrated he is a Tup Lamb and after speaning, a Tup Hogg He will become a Dinmont Tup, or, after his 1st to 2nd shearing, a Shearling Ram; thereafter he is a 3,4 or 5 Shear. For most of the year the Tups/Rams tend to live separate lives from the ewes. When the farmer decides that the optimum breeding time has arrived, the sequestered Tups/Rams are reunited with the Ewes to ensure that the next generation of lambs are born when the market so requires. This is not done to frustrate the sheep; it is to meet the needs of the Supermarkets.

I should add that if a male has an undescended testicle he is called a Rig.CEA:- "My goodness, I thought a sheep was a sheep unless it was a lamb"

CFF:- "Now for cattle it is different …."CEA:- "Oh dear I was afraid you would say that"

CFF:- "When a cow has a calf it may be a Heifer Calf (female) or a Stot Calf (male). If the Cow is a dairy cow the calf will be taken from the Cow and fed milk by the Farmer. The latter will sell the milk from the Cow and some of this will be manufactured into powdered milk to be reconstituted into milk by the Farmer and fed to the suckling calf. If not a dairy cow , the calf will run with its mother until weaned. A cow in milk is known as a Milch cow or if she is being milked, a Milker."

A Heifer Calf at 1 year becomes a Heifer or Quey or, for both male and female after one year, it is known as a Stirk. The heifer will subsequently be bulled when she becomes a Heifer-in-Calf and then a Heifer-with-calf. Later she will be bulled again and become a Cow. She can, of course like the sheep, be a Yeld Cow or a Milch Cow.

Store Cattle are lean stock sold for fattening before their visit to the abattoirs.

All cattle can be referred to as Kye.

A male calf may be castrated in which case he will be called a Stot, alternatively known as a Steer or a Bullock. He will be finished off (fattened) by the farmer prior to being finished off completely at the abattoir.

Alternately he may be allowed to retain all its faculties whereupon he will develop into a Bull.

Then…. "CEA "Stop stop. I’m becoming totally confused"CFF "…but I haven’t finished yet; there’s much to be said about pigs. They sometimes have very peculiar habits…."CEA "I’m sure they do…."CCF "A Herd of pigs can be Swine or Grunters. A young pig is known as a Guffie or Grice. The female pig is called a Gilt up to having her second litter when she becomes a Sow or Soo and the male pig is a Boar. A castrated pig is a Gaat. The last borne in the litter is a Runt or shott. The many ….."CEA "Are you quite finished?"

CFF :- "No. We have to consider horses. A pony is a Shaltie or Shalt and a Shetland pony is called a Sheltie. A Clydesdale is a working farm horse. (Each horseman had a pair of horses but until he became proficient he had a single or Nod horse) A Garron is usually Highland x Clydesdale used for heavy work on small farms and sporting parties for retrieving deer. A Cart horse is a working farm horse. A male foal is a Colt foal and, if castrated, becomes a Gelding and if not castrated, becomes a Stallion or Entire; a young stallion is known as a Staig. A female foal is a Filly foal and in her second year becomes a Mare.CEA:- "No more please. I’ve heard quite sufficient. I think it will suffice if you continue to send in your reports as you have been doing"CFF "I’m happy to do just as you wish. I would add that the inventory of stock does not often change monthly so I suggest submitting on a two-monthly basis!".CEA "Yes I accept that. Good morning, I will not bother you again".

Next time he had lunch at the country pub he was convinced that the CCF were silently grinning at him.

Grateful acknowledgements are due to Liam Morris, a Judge of Sheep at Agricultural Shows, whose expertise guided the text.