now browsing by tag
The Crosemanor Suffolk Flock was established in 1952 by Mr Hulme’s late father, Stan Hulme, and has been recorded with Signet since 1977. However, recently the focus for the breeding programme has changed significantly. The original flock was sold in 2005/2006 and replaced with 100% pure New Zealand Suffolk genetics.
New Zealand Genetics
The first embryos were imported from Bruce Rapley’s ‘Goldstream’ Suffolk Flock – the highest Index flock in the country. New Zealand was selected as the source of genetics due to their forage-based sheep systems, which require low labour input and deliver profit without any subsidies.
“The UK sheep industry has to reduce its costs,” says Mr Hulme. “We can’t do anything about what happens outside the farm gate, but we can breed rams that will improve the efficiency and profitability of our customers’ businesses.”
Rams are only sold off the farm (108 in 2010), and three quarters go to work as terminal sires on farms where ewes lamb outdoors. At home, less than 5% of the ewes have assisted lambings or require help with suckling, with overall lambing percentages at 180-185%. Lambs are never creep fed and are reared on milk and grass, making significant savings in concentrate costs.
For the past two years the main driver for ram selection has been improved conformation, and CT scanning is used extensively to identify future sires that confer the highest meat yields. Tools such as Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are also important for selecting traits such as growth rates.
“I believe that it is our job to understand what customers want, and then strive to produce rams to suit their systems, that will earn them money by significantly lowering the costs of production,” says Mr Hulme.
“The rams we sell are fed no concentrates – so they may not be as big as other Suffolks – but when they get back on farm, they live longer, and are efficient and effective workers – with ram lambs serving 1:80 and shearling rams 1:150.”
Farmers Weekly ‘Farmer of the Year’ John Hoskin has bought rams from the Hulmes for two years, attracted by their high genetic merit, easy lambing traits and the high ram to ewe ratio.
“We only buy top 10% Signet recorded rams to serve our 1350 Suffolk/Mule and Mule ewes,” says John Hoskin.
Organised through the Sheep Better Returns Programme (BRP), this award is presented to the performance recorded flock that has shown the most impressive improvement in genetic merit over a 12-month period, within the breed.
The Hulme family has long been associated with pedigree Suffolks, having years of success at shows and sales with its Crosemanor flock. But a switch in focus means that is no longer the priority – in fact, having imported genetics from New Zealand, they could not be moving further away from their traditional bloodlines. JOANNE PUGH found out more.
Having spent decades building a reputation for producing and selling pedigree Suffolks, it may come as a shock to many that the Hulme family has completely changed its breeding goals.
Gone are the days of producing the type of Suffolks that brought them so much success in showring over the years – instead the focus is working with genetics that will ‘do a job for the commercial producer’.
With the number of commercial farmers buying Crosemanor stock dropping significantly from the late 1990s, that is something the family feels it had been failing to do before.
Things started out well in 1952 when the late Stanley Hulme established the Crosemanor flock in the village of Cockshutt, Ellesmere, Shropshire, and gained momentum when son Robyn joined the business in 1977.