Muscle & Skins..Muscle & Skins...Muscle & Skins....

Boy oh Boy !

My stock rams are

Kelsey I-Muscle ( 18U-10-6447)ARR/ARQ
Terminal Sire Index = 264 i.e. Top 10% of the breed.

I have a half share in this ram.  He is  a high index ram at 264 but has the accolade of having the highest EBV for muscle depth and gigot muscularity of any Hampshire Ram established by on farm scanning at that time. He has a tight skin and  also importantly his offspring lamb easily and are quick to be up and suckling. We have semen  stored and for sale.

Benniworth Siegfried (O3Y-16-00305) ARR/ARR
Terminal Sire Index =322 i.e. TOP 1% of the breed.

Home Bred ET lamb, a son of Court General by a donor ewe from a great Kelsey maternal line. CT scanned and was used on the 2018 crop for the first time.

Whitehead Gladiator (64T1400365) ARR/ARR
Terminal Sire Index =287 ( 91% accuracy) i.e. TOP 5% of the breed with great  muscling and conformation and the best  possible skin quality.

See  their photos on the photos page

Commentary

I  keep my  sheep in commercial conditions  to identify those sheep that thrive without  a  reliance on concentrates  but on a  traditional grass diet based system to suit the growing market for Hampshire rams as a first class native terminal sire to cross with all breeds. These rams are particularly suited to organic and grass diet based systems of lamb production.

I aim for sales of rams to those  commercial sheep farmers who recognize the traits of High Index Hampshires to use on their flocks to achieve a quality butchers carcass more quickly in grass based systems. Put a grass fed ram into any system and it should work hard and thrive.

I have  acquired some very “showy” ewes in the past so I want to ensure that a continued balance is struck between high indexes and looks, the sheep equivalent to being blessed with “ beauty and brains” in humans.  However above everything is the quality of the carcass and the wool, the reasons sheep exist!

I breed rams  fit for purpose that  are not “pushed on” by concentrates . Over feeding ram lambs and shearlings is common place amongst ram breeders and extremely counterproductive. Experts in sheep nutrition have studied this issue and find that excessive feeding can disrupt the normal body growth and development processes  and mask genetic traits such as grazing ability and parasitic resistance. The practice also reduces ram longevity and the number of ewes he can mate each year. As mine are not “pushed on concentrates”, feeding trial studies suggest they can actually serve a 100 ewes many more than an over fed “pushed on” ram. More information and commentary is in an excellent publication downloadable at www.eblex.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Booklet-Fit-for-purpose-rams-A-blueprint-for-breeders.pdf

I  read ( FG 2/5/14) that David Thornton Technical manager at Rumenco advises that concentrate feeding  actually decreases the ph of the rumen and inhibits the microbes which break down plant fibre. Testes and scrotum development is effected as well as reducing bone density. Pushing rams with concentrates produces a shapey sheep but is “not conducive to producing the necessary prowess for mating”  he says. My boys are hopefully full of prowess! This scientific view from well respected professionals in the industry has confirmed that what I am doing is the right way, brave but right!

New Zealand bloodlines in sheep breeds such as Suffolk's and our Hampshires are renowned for providing  a quality genetic foundation for a grass based sheep system, I have  the revered New Zealand star ram Bilberry Oak Supreme ( NZ994012) in a good proportion of my flock. In my view this is an important component.