home history rams ewes for sale welsh sheepdogs

Stan and Margaret, Tim's parents, kept a flock that was based around the local breeds - Shropshire and Kerry Hill ewes, crossed with Down rams including Oxford, Dorset and Hampshire. The flock was closed on the female side in the 1980's with the exception of a small group of ewes that came with some rented land. Record keeping runs in the family and the ewes were tagged and individual records kept as far back as the 1960's. Tim computerised recording in the late 1980's and we were already looking for some way of recognising sheep electronically when we were approached by ADAS to be part of one of the early EID trials. All our sheep have had an EID since then.

A sample of  typical Wilden sheep in 1987

When Tim took over the running of the flock here from his father, it was necessary to regularly worm and inject all lambs with Vitamin B12 for them to make decent growth rates and finish properly from our Cobalt deficient soil. Gradually it became apparent that some individuals would still be 'doing' and producing well whilst others were really in need of the drugs to keep them healthy. Tim decided the long-term answer to the problem would be to breed sheep who were naturally productive under the conditions here.

The initial selection criteria were weaning weight and teeth that meet the dental pad. Having got about where we want to go with these, we added prolificacy in all stock and selection for straight legs and feet in rams. Muscling has been a priority in ram selection since the beginning. To start with we bought Texel and Rouge rams from the sales. Gradually we were finding that bought rams just could not match up with what we were producing at home, though early on we found that Beltex ram lambs from David and Ivy Bishop at Colwall do well here and many of our sheep have some Luggsmill behind them. We still occasionally buy a ram for limited use to introduce fresh blood.

Some years down the line now, we are really beginning to see the fruits of our labours. Our lambs generally grow well without much dosing at all and will generally finish to our 19-21kg, E2-3L specification. Killing out has improved over the years and this year's Tenbury Show lamb surprised us at 54%. Our ewes no longer need routine worm drenching and many would not have had anthelmintic since they were yearlings. We have just about eradicated tooth loss and the best ewes are still productive at 10 years old. The remaining challenges are to raise prolificacy and find some answer to liver fluke.

Tim with Suzie and the shearling ewes in 2009

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