As one of our original RamCompare flocks Philip and Charlie Whitehouse have had first-hand experience of the impact genetic improvement has had on their goat enterprise. Their pedigree Lleyn commercial flock will continue to be involved with the RamCompare project.
Philip and son Charlie based at Bradley Farm, Gloucestershire operate a traditional mixed farm enterprise with 2300 acres. 1800 acres are combinable crops for cereal and herbage seed production and remaining land is used for livestock production. They have an 85 cow suckler herd and a flock of 1000 ewes in total, of which 600 are a purebred Lleyn flock, 50 purebred Charollais flock, the remainder are Lleyns run commercially. They have a long established milking herd of 1000 goats.
Charlie manages the cereals and goat enterprises as well as managing the contracting side of the business. Philip manages the sheep enterprises with the help from Jo Lawrence and Richard Batt two full time shepherds. Data capture is achieved using the Farm IT 2000 Border Software system.
Prior to RamCompare Philip was purchasing recorded rams for their Charollais flock, aiming for rams with figures in the top 20 per cent, selecting 20 pure homebred Charollais ram lambs to use on their commercial March lambing Lleyn’s providing prime lamb through to December.
They operate single sire mating groups with their pedigree flocks, and lamb these in February. The commercial Lleyns run with Charollais rams, 400 lamb outside in April.
Lambing indoors, they finish everything off grass. Lambs are weaned at 12 – 16 weeks and as part of the Sainsbury’s Development Group they sell finished lambs to Randall Parker from weaning through to December. During the first two years of the project all of their RamCompare trial lambs have been sold by August.
They buy in an additional 2000 store lambs in August to October, and these are finished by the end of February, clearing the farm in time for lambing to commence.
“We feel it is important to be involved in this project because we need to keep at the forefront of the sheep breeding industry,” Philip said.
“RamCompare is showing us the value of measuring and recording the sheep enterprise to help make clear and informed decisions.”