The 2016 winner of the AHDB Beef & Lamb Better Returns Programme Improved Flock Award for Texel sheep is the Claybury flock, based in Shropshire, owned by James Draper. 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.
The Claybury flock now extends to 40 pedigree ewes alongside a flock of 100 cross-breds, and James combines farming with working full- time as an Agricultural Manager for ABP UK.
The Texel flock was introduced to the farm in 1997 by Robert Draper (James’s father) who still looks after the sheep in his son’s absence. When the flock was started there was an opportunity to produce top quality commercial rams for Robert’s commercial ewes. The farm itself comprises a mixed enterprise of arable land and beef cattle as well as the pedigree and commercial sheep flocks.
With a focus on high welfare and attention to detail animals are bred for growth and an overall high index, aiming to be in the top 5% of the breed. Breed characteristics are also taken into account and James says of his breeding policy;
“Breeding any pedigree livestock takes time and the key to selection of any purchased stock are performance figures, locomotion, a good back end, length, and a tight fleece.”
Claybury Texels try not to buy in any ewes but purchase rams yearly to maintain good bloodlines within the flock. Historic rams to note include Glenside Lord of the Ring, Haddo Ignitor, Humeston Juniper, Garngour Nijinsky, Claybury Indiana, Millar’s Olympian, Claybury Millreef, and Claybury Rocky Balbao. More recent purchases who have had an impact include Mellorvale Tomahawk and the 2014- bought Stainton Vantage ii.
“His progeny have it all and he has been successfully included in the RamCompare project,” says James.
James is always looking to improve the performance of his stock to help with overall quality and reducing problem areas of lameness and mastitis.