Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's All in the Breed for Lamb Producer

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's All in the Breed for Lamb Producer

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jennifer Mackenzie

Selecting recorded Suffolk rams has paid off, according to Durham-based lamb producer, Neil Hunter.

As many lamb producers purchase rams that will ultimately be "half next year's flock", Neil Hunter tells how he has achieved up to 25pc greater profits thanks to selecting rams with figures to kill for.

"We are pedigree Simmental cattle breeders, so we are accustomed to recording and can see that performance figures are really progressing our herd. As a result we have transported the same philosophy to the sheep, hence we source our rams from Suffolk breeder Hans Porksen, who supplies high index Suffolks."

Until five years ago, the North of England ewe flock based at Woodlands Hall, Knitsley, Consett, was served by Charollais rams. However, the virtues of the Suffolk, including earlier maturity, quicker growth, better feet and more wool than their predecessors, means that Neil has switched to use all Suffolk rams, even on his gimmers.

"We have had far fewer problems. The high index Suffolks have smaller heads than the Charollais and we have less foot problems.

"However, the two main things are the growth rate and the muscling qualities of the Suffolk. We are not worried about fat because Suffolks don't get over-fat if marketed correctly," Neil says. Selection of rams is on visual appearance backed by figures on a comparison basis. Four hundred ewes lamb down in April and as many lambs as possible are sold from July onwards off grass. This is despite the 320-acre farm being two thirds LFA.

"We sold very well during July averaging pounds 57-pounds 58 for twins and singles. We would normally expect to sell three quarters of the lamb crop off grass, which you couldn't do with any of the other popular terminal sires on this farm," he says. …

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