Mother and daughter Glynis and Jane Soulsby are celebrating
having the top pedigree Suffolk flock in the north of England
with an on-farm open day at Williamsgill, Temple Sowerby, near
Penrith, on Sunday (November 12).
Glynis and Jane Soulsby and Williamsgill ewes
The Williamsgill flock was established in 1990 and being selected
the top flock in the northern counties branch of the Suffolk Flock
Book Society annual contest against opposition from as far afield
as Lincolnshire and up to the Scottish Border is the icing on the
cake for the pair.
Jane, aged 24, has a passion for sheep which are involved in her
work as a technical sales consultant specialising in animal breeding
and genetics with national company Inovis based in Edinburgh.
The original flock was beginning to see the fruits of a decade
of selective breeding when it was taken in the government’s
depopulation cull during 2001’s foot and mouth epidemic.
And it was Jane, an honours graduate in animal science from Newcastle
University, who persuaded her mum to re-start the flock in 2002.
Said Jane: “I gave mum an ultimatum – we have to get
some more sheep or you have to find something else to do as she
was getting boring.”
Glynis, who couldn’t do without the help with the sheep
from husband Taylor, admits: “Through breeding and showing
the sheep we had met such a lot of people up and down the country
and it had become part of our social calendar.”
The flock was re-established with 24 gimmer shearlings with top
bloodlines from Robbie Wilson’s Strathisla flock in Aberdeenshire.
It was Jane who suggested they should enter the flock competition
last year when they were chosen as reserve top flock and their
tup Williamsgill Wkd was judged the best stock ram.
This year judge Helen Goldie who runs the Harpercroft flock at
Dundonald, Kilmarnock, placed Williamsgill top of the flocks from
around a dozen entries when she visited in mid-October.
“We knew our female gimmers were looking really well and
through our breeding programme principally using AI we have bred
a more uniform flock,” said Jane.
This year’s females by AI sire Deveronside The Messiah and
stock ram Strathisla Red Bull, bought at the 2005 Edinburgh sale,
also earned the flock the award for best ewe lambs.
Glynis said: “With the type of Suffolk we have tried to
breed we have kept the carcase characteristics without breeding
for extra bone and head size which also helps with lambing ease.
We have also kept the breed’s colours and good, silky skins
on the ewes which is what the commercial breeder wants. It is the
commercial breeder we are aiming at for our sales of rams and females.
We have stuck with the Suffolk while some other terminal sires
have become popular but I think there is increasing interest again
in the breed which achieves a faster liveweight gain – something which has proved
an advantage during this summer’s lack of rain and poor grass
Sunday’s open day starts at 12 noon and pedigree and all commercial
sheep breeders are welcome – however Glynis has asked those
planning to go along to give her a call to confirm numbers so that
she can make enough food – appropriately Shepherd’s Pie
and tatie pot – to go around! She can be contacted on 017683
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