Targeting the extra premium that puts the edge on your profit can be made much easier by using high index recorded rams according to the Texel Sheep Society. And increasingly lamb producers are finding that it's more rewarding to spend that little bit more on a ram and maximise returns.
West Sussex producer Dick Taylor has been using Estimated Breeding Values to back up his choice of ram for the last three or four years. He says the scientific estimation of growth rate, carcass quality, and maternal performance provides proof that the blood lines can deliver a quality commercial lamb.
“When I see the index and look at the animal, then I decide whether to buy”, he said. “Because we want high growth rate lambs with high output and good grading. I'm forever trying to improve.
“The blood lines prove it. It's worth paying that little bit extra because it takes the guesswork out of it. It would have to be a very special ram by today to persuade me to buy anything hat didn't have a high index”.
Mr Taylor's lambs kill out at between 20 and 24 kilograms, with as many as possible making U2s, U3s and E2s. He runs 600 Rouge X Mule ewes and 600 Texel X Rouge X Mule ewes at Woolbeding Farms, near Midhurst.
Texel Sheep Society chairman, Keith Campbell, said he expected more commercial breeders than ever to be looking for high index rams at the English National Sale in Worcester on August 29. All the evidence was that performance recording proves that the high index ram performs well above average and earns the farmer more money.
“High index rams consistently outperform those with a lower index”, he added. “Typically you can get around £2.80 a lamb extra by using a higher index ram. A number of independent trial have been carried out over the last four or five years and all prove that the use of high index rams gives the commercial producer a better return”.
Also heading to Worcester at the end of the month is Tony Watton, head shepherd at the Earl of Plymouth Estates, Bromfield, near Ludlow. He's been buying Texels since he spotted a particularly fine ram at one of the first NSA Wales and Border Ram Sales at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells.
The lambs from the 2,000 Mule, Suffolk X Mules, and Texel X Mules are almost all sold at Ludlow Market. Mr Watton says the Texel gives them the conformation the buyer is looking for and adds that vital extra premium.
“We went into Texels because it was the thing to do at the time”, he said. “We've been very happy with them. They're easy lambing, clean and have plenty of get up and go. They're easy to sell and good and milky. What more could you want!
“The early lambs sell at between 38 and 41 kilos from Easter on. The later lambs sell from November and make between 42 and 50 kilos.
Mr Watton who regularly buys at Worcester says they've also proved to be remarkably good value for money. The rams live to six or seven years old. And in these inflationary times it's interesting to note that twenty five years on he's still paying no more than 500 guineas for a fine Texel that produces just what the customer ordered!