Why Hamps?

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!.