The 2017 winner of the AHDB Beef & Lamb Better Returns Programme Improved Flock Award for Meatlinc sheep is the flock owned by Clive and Jenny Richardson at Higher Denzel Farm in Newquay. 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 previous year.
The AHDB Better Returns Programme 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.
Clive and Jenny Richardson live on their family farm in St Mawgan, Newquay with son William. The Richardsons have lived at Higher Denzel Farm for the past 45 years, farming 620 acres. As well as their 190 pedigree Meatlincs, they have 900 commercial ewes, 40 pedigree Roussins, and 12 Wensleydales.
Clive and Jenny started their pedigree Meatlinc flock in 2001, they had previously bought Meatlinc rams, so were familiar with the breed and
bought some from Henry Fell. Clive was attracted to them as a breed as they are properly indexed and performance recorded so are sold on genetic merit rather than how they look, unlike other breeds.
Clive considers the whole index when selecting his sheep. However he believes that growth is important and that the key is to make continual steady progress. Since the index has been redesigned the sheep are much more manageable and efficient in finishing lambs.
Clive and Jenny take advantage of the Computer Tomography Scanning service provided by Signet, sending around a dozen of their top 10% of that years lamb crops. This additional service provides a welfare friendly way to assessing the total weight of muscle and fat within a carcass as well as the overall gigot muscularity. The technology gives more accurate and reliable results than those obtained through ultrasound. This aids superior genetics to be identified and can assist with the marketing of recorded flocks.
Higher Denzels main customers for his Meatlincs are in the South West of the country and all sheep are sold from home. The performance figures are very important to these customers as it provides a good guide that allows them to make an informed choice.
Clive plans to carry on with what he is doing, however more concentration may be made on the maternal traits. He explains that if the ewes within a flock are sound and structurally well then this will have a large positive impact on the flock. Regarding sire choices the Richardsons appear to have made excellent informed choices as two of the rams used this year are in the top 1% of the breed – CR:1509479 and CR:1509534 and a further 4 are in the top 25%.
Clive is very happy about winning the Improved Flock Award this year. He thanks his family for all their hard work and Henry Fell for getting them into the breed and for all his help in the early days.
EBVs for CR:1509479
The Sales chart shows that CR: 1509479 has great growth rates high scan weights and has excellent muscle depth. He is also leaner than the average.
His index score of 462 comfortably places him within the top 1% of the breed in 2016.