The 2016 winner of the AHDB Beef & Lamb Better Returns Programme Improved Flock Award for Meatlinc sheep is the flock owned by ER & JE Vines of Burton Farm, Herefordshire. 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.
ER & JE Vines run one of the Meatlinc breeding flocks alongside a crossbred flock of ewes. The Meatlinc flock consists of 200 ewes who lamb in April under cover after spending the winter on grass and stubble turnips. The integration of the sheep enterprise within an arable rotation gives the benefit of regular new leys and seasonal catch crops. In keeping with the easy care ethos of the Meatlinc breed the sheep are kept as commercially as possible by feeding lots of home produced forage. Rams which are kept for promotional reasons are subject to housing and additional feed.
The farm enjoys a high health status being MV accredited across all the sheep and much of the success of the breeding is from the use of genetics from the other Meatlinc flocks in the form of sires and AI. In the 2015 season a sire was provided from Burton Farm for the Ram Compare scheme and another will be used on a flock in 2016.
There is always good demand for the Burton Farm stock and one of the challenges going forward is to gradually grow the numbers of rams available whilst still maintaining the quality.