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John joined his father on the farm in 1954 and bought his first Suffolk ewes in 1960. He took over the management of the farm in 1962, and ten years later started breeding pedigree Suffolks, building up to 100 head. The flock has been involved with the Sire Reference Scheme since it started in 1989. John now has a flock of 40 pedigree Suffolk ewes.
John uses the figures generated from performance recording as a marketing tool – if a customer likes the look of one of his rams he then uses Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) to show he also has the potential to deliver lambs with economically important traits. He also finds indexes useful for demonstrating how good a ram is within his breed. One ram, Drinkstone Supersire 2004 has had a major influence on the flock over the years.
On 12 August each year John’s 40 pedigree ewes are artificially inseminated using semen from four different rams. Any that do not conceive go to a Blue-faced Leicester ram for two cycles to produce ewes for the commercial flock. These are then crossed onto a Southdown ram to produce lambs that finish at grades around R3L.
“The beauty of AI is that I can select semen from particular sires to match certain individuals within the flock,” explains John. “It is good for recording purposes and breed planning”
All lambs are ultrasound scanned at around 21 weeks of age to accurately assess their muscle and fat depth. John looks for animals with good conformation, taking particular notice of their top line, loin, hindquarter and legs. He also looks at the Muscle and Fat Depth EBVs for each animal. Replacement ewe lambs are chosen based on this data and selection criteria. Ewe and ram lambs that fail to make the grade are finished and sold.
Customers starting to look for figures
John’s main customers are commercial producers with flocks of 750 or more ewes, who buy directly from the farm. He says they are often impressed by how quickly lambs produced by recorded sires grow and finish.
Shane Conway – Signet
Op de laatste rammenveiling bleek dat schapenhouders bereid zijn meer te betalen voor indexrammen. Zie onderstaand artikel op Stackyard.
An optimistic mood at the annual Cydectin Kelso Ram Sales, on Friday 9th September, resulted in the average increasing £27 to a new record of £649 per head.
4457 rams sold through 14 auction rings for £2,895,770.
Despite the damp start to the day there was the usual flurry of high-flying prices, but most buyers were being selective, with the end result that more than 10% of rams returned home unwanted.
Jack Clark, managing director of auctioneer John Swan, said: “It was the top half who had the bigger lift.”
For Rod McKenzie, of the Scottish Sheep Strategy Group, the sale was a “complete vindication” of the work that many breeders were now putting in to record the performance of their ram lambs.
He claimed that the commercial producers, the majority of Kelso buyers, were now picking out lambs on the performance figures. “The scheme is beginning to pay off. Prices for good performance rams are now £200 to £300 per head above the average and that is a telling amount of cash.”
£15,000 was paid for Grey Peel Rambo, a Texel shearling from Messrs MS & C Hardy-Bishop and sold to Bruce Goldie, Townfoot, Mouswold, Edward Fox, Elsdonburn, Wooler, and Jonathon Watson, Bowsden Moor, Berwick on Tweed. Rambo was in the top 1 per cent of the breed in breeding value and he had taken the breed prize at the Border Union show.
The best Bluefaced Leicester price of the day was paid for a Tanhouse B4 son from Messrs Hall, Lilyburn Firth which sold to Crowhall farms, Hexham for £6,500.
In the ram lambs, top call was £5000 for a Suffolk from Iain Barbour, Solwaybank. A son of the 12000gns Rhaeadr Rastafari out of a Perrinpit Physique mother, he sold to James Rooney and Gerry Killilea.
At the recent sale in Kelso we bought two new rams for our Specop and Mattemburgh.
We are very happy to add Drinkstone Top Muscle 2010 to our team. He is the third highest index stock ram in the breed with an index of 5.84 and a muscle depth of 6.9. He was by far the highest index ram sold at Kelso.
As a lamb he was CT scanned with a impressing eyemuscle as well in depth as width.
We were also very lucky to buy a very smart lamb by Strathisla Sinatra from the Sitlow flock of Steve Buckley. He is 45Z:11:057 out of a Didcot Dynamic sired ewe.
From today on the breeding evaluation is in BASCO and on the website of Signet. We did have some fair results and made a fine progress since last year with an top index of 5.38 for our best ewelamb and some (tup) lambs in the top 1% of the breed. Half of the 2011 crop is in the top 5%.
Find all results over here: Specop crop 2011
Estimated Breeding Values from the latest Suffolk Breeding Evaluation are now available.
A “High Five” list is shown below – but please bear in mind this only includes flocks where lambs have been scanned to date. Later lambing, shearling producing flocks will be included in the next report.
De fokwaarden op het gebied van karkaskwaliteit worden in Engeland verzorgd door Signet. Die organisatie heeft een nieuwe website. Hierop is heel erg veel informatie te vinden over het scannen, de fokwaarden en vooral ook over wat het nu precies oplevert. Echt de moeite waard!