We talk to the latest generation of a farming dynasty who find that Suffolk provides a hardy and active lamb
Tuthill farm is situated in the heart of the Northumberland countryside and has been farmed for four generations by the Johnson family, Allan Johnson’s philosophy is to drive maximum value by breeding and buying top quality stock which delivers the same return as some larger enterprises.
“We use Suffolks extensively in our farm sheep enterprise because we like a fast growing lamb that quickly reaches a saleable weight at a young age. The Suffolk provides a hardy active lamb that is quick to suck, and finish faster than other breeds. Being finished off grass, there are minimum input costs and they are ideal for our approach”Allan Johnson
The farm has 450 ewes of which 220 North of England Mules are put to the Suffolk to breed finished lambs and ewe lambs as replacements. 70 ewe lambs are also privately sold each year to regular customers.
Suffolk tups are purchased at Kelso Ram Sales in September. Allan looks for good skins and a silky black hair to breed quality ewe lambs from the North of England Mule ewe. They also find that the Suffolk ewe out of the North of England Mule is an exceptional breeding sheep when crossed with any terminal sire producing quality lambs with tight skins.
Lambing starts at the end of March and continues through April. Ewes are lambed outside and the Suffolk lambs do not receive any supplementary feeding as they easily finish off the grass and their mothers’ milk. Allan said “Our aim is to sell the majority of finished lambs at 14 to 18 weeks. The lambs are sold at 20 – 22kg deadweight to Dawn Carnaby and the Suffolk meets this specification easily due to the fast growth rate and consistently grading U and R2/3L. We take the heavier lambs to Scots Gap Mart”.
Aberdeen Angus store cattle are also finished on the farm and it won the Scotbeef Aberdeen Angus grass finishing competition in 2017. The judges commented that the grass management on the farm was excellent and Allan pointed out that Suffolk sheep fit into the farm enterprise perfectly.