Nick and Mimi live at Langstone Mill purchased their first Charollais ram lamb along with some pedigree ewes and the following year bought another ewe in 1986.
Since then, the flock has been closed, building numbers up to 80 pedigree ewes through careful selection of rams using Artificial Insemination (AI) alongside their own stock rams.
Appreciating the value of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), they decided to start recording their Langstone flock two years ago.
Expanding the Market
Nick understands the value EBVs can add to his marketing and says, “We sell to both pedigree and commercial producers and felt it was important to be able to provide performance-recorded data with our stock available for sale”.
“The pedigree man likes to buy sheep which progress their own flocks with improved breeding traits and there is definite interest from commercial producers where EBVs are concerned. Through not recording your own flock you narrow down the number of potential vendors who might otherwise be interested in the stock you can provide.”
As well as using ultrasound scanning to identify breeding lines with superior muscling across the loin, they have also used the CT scanning service run by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). CT scanning provides pedigree breeders with a near-perfect image of carcase composition and a highly accurate prediction of the yield of muscle, fat and bone within the carcase. The CT scanner can also be used to assess the shape of the hind quarter by measuring gigot muscularity. This data is used to enhance the accuracy of EBVs and Breeding Indexes produced by Signet for the Langstone flock, and as a vet Nick found the images themselves extremely interesting.
A ram used by Nick and Mimi, a son of Castellau Liberator, was known to have really good genes for growth rate, but the CT scanner also showed that this weight was due to a high yield of muscle – a trait in which the ram excels. He sired over half of the lambs in 2013, leading to a jump in the average index of Langstone lambs of over 60 index points and an increase in the Scan Weight EBV of over 2.5kg, meaning faster-finishing, more profitable lambs.