Recording figures give buyers confidence
The AHDB Beef and Lamb Improved Flock Award for the Poll Dorset and Dorset Horn breed for 2011 is the Poorton Flock owned by Fooks Bros, Bridport, Dorset – a flock founded in 1906 and first entered into the Flock Book exactly 100 years ago.
The performance of the flock has been recorded on and off from the 1960’s, but in earnest since the early 1990’s. Francis believes strongly that figures, in particular Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are important for helping guide the future direction of the flock.
“There is no doubt that it is important to have figures available when selling pedigree stock these days. Some customers, particularly the younger generation will walk straight past your pen if you are not recording; figures give buyers added confidence in the animals they are purchasing,” says Mr Fooks.
Over the past few years, prolificacy and the milking ability of the ewes has been targeted and improved, as well as key terminal sire traits such as muscle depth and lean meat production.
Pedigree producer Richard Hole runs 1200 sheep on his farm near Sherborne, Dorset and buys Poorton rams as sires for his flock of 420 pedigree Poll Dorset ewes, which all lamb before Christmas.
“We currently have three of Francis’ rams and have had a regular supply over the years,” says Mr Hole. “The Poorton flock is one of the oldest established flocks in the country, and Francis produces animals that are continually improving in all the key traits we are interested in. It is no surprise he has won the AHDB Beef and Lamb award for this breed this year.”
Organised through the Sheep Better Returns Programme (BRP), this award is presented to the performance recorded flock that has shown the most impressive improvement in genetic merit over a 12-month period, within the breed.