Page 9 - Commercial Suffolks 2019
P. 9

of time will be used across a portion of ewes to incorporate some of our breeding.  Up
        until 10 years ago AI was used and lambing took place in January but with customers
        really only wanting shearlings and to control costs, we now use teaser rams before
        natural service sires are introduced for February lambing.  Ewes and lambs are turned
        out when the weather is favourable, creep is fed up until scanning in June by then
        anything not required has been sold finished.  Lambs are then shorn and run on grass
        until the following Spring when hopefully we have a forage crop to feed with a small
        amout of supplementary feed as our season usually starts with customers requiring
        rams from early May. Exeter early ewe sale and the SW NSA ram sales are our only
        auctions attended with the rest sold privately. We show at 2 local one day shows to
        promote ourselves and the breed. Time and later lambing rules out the County shows
        however we enjoy entering carcase competitons. This year a pair of pure Suffolk ewe
        lambs sired by stock ram Rugley Lucius won the overall combined live lamb carcase
        competition at Devon County show, a pleasing achievement for a native breed against
        the continental dominance of these competitions. It is also pleasing to see customers
        doing well in Spring lamb competitions, this year's Suffolk cross winner at both Exeter
        and Sedgemoor Easter markets were sired by Yarcombe rams with Suffolk sired lambs
        in general very often topping the market.
        Stock rams have been bought privately and at Shrewsbury but Kelso seems to offer
        a large and diverse choice.  Rams from Rugley, Soutra, Sandyknowe and Sitlow have
        done well for us over recent years. The SW is fortunate to have 2 large markets namely
        Exeter and Sedgemoor along with many more regional markets, collection centres and
        abattoirs. With the popularity of the early lambing Polled Dorset x ewe the Suffolk is very
        often the terminal sire of choice with its hardiness and growth rate hard to match, ir's
        main competitor this time of the year would be the Charollais. The breeding sales this
        year has seen a strong trade for Suffolk cross breeding ewes comparing well to other
        crosses which is driven by the high value and demand for the Suffolk cross cull ewe.

        Being involved with this year's SW NSA event, at the host farm the Derrymans were for-
        tunate to see the role first hand of the Suffolk on a mule, producing prolific, milky highly
        productive ewes with a good cull value that has been the base of a successful North
        Devon family sheep farming enterprise for the last 35 years and has stood the test of
        time. These customers will no doubt dictate what they breed.
        (based on an article originally published
        in the Farmers Guardian 2018)

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