A little background...
I feel strongly that the future of profitable sheep farming (As one day there maybe no EU subsidies and if that happens the sheep industry is in real trouble short term) is dependent on reversing the often complete reliance on concentrates/ creep to provide a well fleshed finished lamb ready for slaughter. Not always the case but the continental breeds often have technically great carcasses put they need a lot of concentrates to finish them. Many intensively finishing lowland systems feed creep to the lambs for their entire life in addition to the grass. Any profit margin is squeezed really tight at best. So along with other Hampshire breeders I produce rams that will suit grass finishing systems. I am becoming increasing preoccupied by trying to do achieve this!
As a young boy I spent most easter holidays lambing at Hundon Manor near Caistor with Peter and Sally Robinson which I adored, then in my teens I made off to spend my holidays helping out at Y Fferm , Ruthin in North Wales for the Edwards Family who are also old friends of my family, I had lots of really great times helping to lamb 2500 plus ewes in some of the best sheep farming country anywhere. I learnt a huge amount and loved every minute. In particular I was mentored by Hugh Edwards a hard working fanatical carcass quality driven sheep man.
As a student I worked lambed each Easter at Stenigot Estates Near Louth under the guidance of shepherd and “stockman extraordinaire” Albert Edward Sayers. A proflic winner of pretty much every sheep show he ever entered, he has such a good eye. I have kept my own sheep on and off all my adult life, starting with fattening store lambs whilst a student at the Royal Agricultural College to sell as boxed lamb to fellow students, once I started work fattening cull ewes in the winter months then progressed to own a small commercial lambing flock of about a hundred ewes at the time of foot and mouth. It wasn’t all plain sailing juggling work and sheep but when we got married and when the children arrived the sheep went!
A gap of several years followed until my daughter Isobel was about four and Anna two years old, we needed something to keep a pony paddock tidy. In May 2005 I happened to go and see Tim Hunter (Lindsey Flock) on a work related matter and saw some of his ewe lambs and chatted to him about them. A month later I watched with intrigue a Hampshire Ram Lamb win the Interbreed class at the Lincolnshire Show. I thought.... “if the Hampshire can compete and win against all those smart continental types then thats the breed for me!” Showing sheep looks great and I can see the attraction but it is not for me at present.
At the 2005 Lincolnshire show Tim talked more to me about the Hampshire breed and introduced me to David Smith & Jennifer Atkinson (Kelsey Flock). I purchased my first gimmer at auction in October 2005 from the Derryman Family (Yarcombe Flock) and two from David and Jennifer at the same time.
The reason for writing this background is to attempt to convey my influences. Each of the above named are great sheep farmers and have unwittingly all been amazing mentors to me. Peter & Sally about the sheep farming way of life, Huw about producing consistent good quality lamb carcasses and Albert about really great stockmanship.
My little flock of about twenty five Hampshire ewes, a dozen Blue Texels ewes and thirty "recipient" ewes gives me an opportunity to participate in the world of pedigree sheep and provide welcome relief from a busy work-life. As arguably our best native breed and having undergone rapid modernisation it shows in the carcass quality and recorded growth performance of contemporary high index terminal sires required for modern profitable sheep farming . I am confident that the Hampshire has an excellent future!.