Page 6 - Commercial Suffolks 2019
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milky with the NC Cheviot giving some hardiness and
        We researched pedigree      character.”
        Suffolks and we knew        He went on to say “the Suffolk was the only sire we
                                    considered  for  these  ewes.  The  Suffolk  x  Cheviot
        what we wanted, skins       ewes are very popular in Ireland and we believed that
                                    the Suffolk x Cheviot mule ewe would be a similar if
        as tight as we could get    not a smarter, birthier female. We researched pedi-
                                    gree Suffolks and we knew what we wanted, skins as
        them, black silky hair,     tight as we could get them, black silky hair, medium
                                    bone, bright eyes and length and lift.”
        medium bone, bright
                                    Things went well in the first year with the only 2 pens
        eyes and length and lift.”  of ewe lambs put forward in 2015 getting £140. The
                                    rest were run over into gimmers that topped at £200
                                    and averaged over £180 in July 2016. 2017 topped at
                                    £210 with an average of £191, 2018 topped at £325
                                    and averaged £185. This year, 2019, James decided
                                    to hold an on-farm sale which proved very success-
                                    ful with 450 Suffolk x Cheviot mule gimmers forward,
                                    they  topped  at  £295,  and  averaged  £207,  with  25
                                    pens getting £200 or over. In 2018 550 Cheviot mules
                                    went  to  the  Suffolk  rams  with  lambing  from  27th
                                    March. These ewes scanned in January at 224%.
                                    The aim is to keep rams in singles when tipping to
                                    facilitate the monitoring of individual progeny. Shep-
                                    herd Martin Millar said “the tips work hard. We put
                                    them to field with up to 110 ewes, with the tips usu-
                                    ally switched on the 17th day of the cycle, if we feel
                                    a ram is performing particularly well we won’t switch
                                    and just watch with baited breath on the 1st days of
                                    cycle number 2. We understand that this system puts
                                    pressure on the ram, but we feed them well before
                                    going to the ewes and we will be semen testing them
                                    all from this year before turn out.”  James adds “We
                                    look for a very specific type of ram and are prepared
                                    to pay for them, so we need to ensure they are used
                                    to their full potential.  For example - one of our best
                                    breeding,  longest  established  tips  has  successfully
                                    served  110  ewes  3  years  in  a  row  and  got  90  last
                                    year and we expect him to easily handle the same
                                    this year.”

                                    Teasers are used on all batches before tipping to
                                    keep  the  lambing  as  tight  as  possible.  This  saves
                                    labour and helps mitigate against fatigue setting in
                                    after the first three weeks. There is no meal fed to
          James Alexander & Family  the ewes carrying twins or singles. Weather permit-

        4  Commercial SUFFOLKS – AUTUMN 2019
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