The 2016 winner of the AHDB Beef & Lamb Better Returns Programme Improved Flock Award for Charollais sheep is the Tilton flock of Leicestershire, owned by Alan Thomas. This award is presented to the English Signet performance recorded flock that makes the greatest improvement in the breeding potential of the lamb crop during the year.
The AHDB BRP aims to highlight the financial impact that improved breeding and better lamb selection strategies can have on commercial flock profitability.
This award seeks to reward those breeders that are using Estimated Breeding Values to enhance the performance of their flocks and assist them to promote their achievement. The impact of performance recorded stock is significant and is increasing every year because of the activities of progressive farmers.
Established in 1993 careful selection and a tight breeding policy of only keeping the highest quality True Type Charollais Sheep has resulted in an excellent flock. The 150 ewes are split between two flocks. Fifty are lambed in December and the lambs are reared indoors, these lambs are fed creep and undergo full performance recording. Most of the ewe lambs are retained for breeding but some stock are made available at pedigree sales and for private purchase. The remainder of the ewes are lambed in late March and the lambs are reared outdoors, these are weighed at eight weeks and the lambs stay with their mothers until weaning in August. These are typically sold as shearlings. Every year around 50 shearling rams and 30 ram lambs are available for purchase.
The Thomas family rent a 110 acre council farm and also have access to a 100 acres of summer grazing. The Charollais flock share the farm with a pedigree herd of Holstein and Guernsey cattle and the ram lambs are managed in a rotational grazing system with the cattle.
Significant ram purchases of recent years include Sheldon On The Ball (14XNR00358) and Grange Morse (WDK:1201032) who has an index of 371. Last year the flock bought Oakchurch Professor (15WKW00091) by Banwy Ninja and he will be influencing the breeding programme over the next few years with a high scan weight EBV of 10.06.