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While shepherds watch their flocks...

Nowadays, it is unlikely that they will be seated on the ground! And, in the UK, they are unlikely to be out in the open, or all gathered with their flocks around them. But for sure our shepherds will be on watch!

Even in mid-winter there is work to be done. For most flocks, it is feeding and tending to the sheep's welfare. The lambs born in 2016 - which amazingly change into Hoggets on January 1st - may be being fattened for market. Some are folded on turnips or roots in the field, and their rations are provided daily. Others will be in their barns, and then rely solely on hay, silage or hard feed (eg 'cake' or 'sheep nuts'). And water. Animals probably drink more water in the winter than summer - because of the winter feed - and this job is a constant one.

The ewe flock will have been to the ram in November for their lambing in April, so their needs are to be well-fed and safe. But some sheep owners rear Easter lambs for that prime market. Those lambs are born in December, so for these shepherds it is their busy time. Great care and vigilance is needed to look after newly born lambs in the cold of winter and maintain the mothers' milk supply to produce those quality lambs.

And one more task may arise for some: many livestock markets hold their annual Christmas Show, and just as in the summer season, stock is carefully nurtured to look

their best on Show Day. For these Shows, not only do the animals have to look perfect, but feeding and finishing (ie being ready to go to the butcher) are the key characteristics to make the stock stand out from the rest and win the prize. This all takes time and much care but is another 'feather in the cap' for the winning shepherd.

And so, even two thousand years on, shepherds still follow the traditions needed to care and protect their flocks, and for sure, also enjoy Christmas with the rest of the family !

tehir best on Sjw Dayu. 

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