Texel breeder Fiona Grundy farms at Whaplode Drove, near Spalding in Lincolnshire.
Liking the breed’s good conformation and presence, Fiona started breeding Texels in 2008 with the purchase of ten shearling ewes from the Coton flock. The first stock ram purchased was Millars Precast. More recently Cambwell Supremo joined the flock. Both rams were recorded and have made their mark on the offspring – especially Cambwell Supremo, who has significantly increased the growth rates in his lambs.
In September the ewes are artificially inseminated. In 2012 semen from Avon Vale Real Deal was used and Cambwell Supremo acted as a sweeper, to make sure that all the ewes were covered.
“Two years ago I tried to purchase Roxburgh Shot Gun Willie at Worcester but was unsuccessful,” says Fiona. “This ram had fantastic Estimated Breeding Values and would have added a lot of value to our flock.
“But I did manage to buy a ewe, in lamb to this ram from the Hightec Flock who had bought him. The ewe lambed and had a wonderful ram lamb, which I am very pleased with. Hopefully this will become one of my stock rams, in the future.”
The flock stays outside until a few weeks before lambing as long as the weather remains clement. The ewes are scanned and fed according to litter size to ensure straight-forward births requiring no assistance. The lambs are lively when born and keen to suck. They have access to a coarse-mix creep feed in the yards, moving onto lamb pellets later.
Fiona selects around 15 ewe lambs for replacements, taking particular notice of their growth rates and conformation. Ewe and ram lambs that fail to make the grade are finished and sold through Melton Mowbray or Newark Markets.
When buying a new stock ram or selecting sires for AI, Fiona uses Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), as well the physical look of the animal.
“EBVs help me make my mind up when buying rams,” says Fiona. “I am particularly interested in their scores for muscle depth and fat depth.
“Reviewing the figures since we started really highlights the impact of keeping the very best ewe lambs, and introducing rams which are highly rated for important commercial traits”.
Shane Conway – Signet