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Producing Crossbred Lambs for the Commercial Market

JM Ridley & Sons farm near Prudhoe, Northumberland. The 500 acres grassland farm has a flock of 310 pure Lleyn ewes, 10 Texel x Lleyn ewes, and 35 others alongside 200 head of dairy cows.

The aim of purchasing the Lleyn ewes was to become a closed flock to breed their own replacements and control disease. The family produce mainly cross lambs for the commercial market as well as ewe lambs for flock replacements. The flock is lambed from late March to early April and the ewes and lambs are turned straight out onto grass after lambing. Ewes scan around 220% and there are still some of the original purchased Lleyn ewes lambing at nine years old which highlights the longevity of the breed. The major improvement in the farm’s sheep enterprise is the number of lambs that are recorded at six weeks old to the number of ewes put to the ram.

“The weight of these lambs is a real eye-opener, they grow faster and reach target weights sooner from the Lleyn than the larger ewes that we previously kept. The Lleyn fits perfectly into
our farming system, they are easy lambers with plenty of milk enabling the lambs to be sold off the ewes before the grass becomes less mid-summer onwards,” comments Michael Ridley. A Texel and Texel x Beltex rams are used as a terminal sire on the majority of the flock which allows the farm to produce prime lambs which are sold at 42-45kg. From the quality of the Lleyn ewe, concentrate usage is optimised without compromising health, which helps purchased feed costs as well as the vet bill! The remainder of the flock are put to a Lleyn ram which enables pure replacements to be bred and to be entered into the breeding flock.

Michael concludes, “We are very pleased and impressed with the performance of our Lleyn flock and would have no hesitation in recommending the Lleyn breed to anyone thinking of using it in their sheep farming enterprises.”

Thank you to JM RIdley & Sons for the insight into their farming and for their contribution to the NWF Sheep Bulletin Edition 4.

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