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    Devon Hampshire Down Flock Awarded Championship
2009-05-26

Geoff and Jean Boyles of West Worlington, Crediton have been awarded the Hampshire Down Sheep Breeders’ Association’s supreme flock championship after their 40 ewe Millfields flock was judged on breed type and overall conformation. In addition, they headed both the sections for medium flocks, best breeding ewes and best shearling ewes.

Geoff and Jean Boyles with some of their prize winning Hampshire Down flock

Geoff and Jean Boyles

“The Millfields flock was an excellent example of the modern Hampshire Down. The breeding and shearling ewes were of a high standard combining uniformity with length and depth,” explained Oliver Mercer of the County Down based Moybrick flock, who judged the flocks with her husband, John. “The flock also reflected a very high standard of stockmanship in what was a difficult wet year. In addition, Millfields is an Signet Sire Reference Scheme (SRS) flock that is producing rams which are ideally suited to today’s commercial market place, leaving fast finishing Hampshire Down cross lambs with good conformation and excellent feed conversion efficiency, without compromising ease of lambing, hardiness and that will to get up quickly to suckle.”

The Boyles have been among the finalists for the Hampshire Down Sheep Breeders’ Association’s top award on several occasions. They have enjoyed numerous showring successes within the south west region including at the Devon County. The couple are also firm supporters of the Hampshire Down Signet SRS which is designed to improve breed performance, and the Millfields flock is among the breed’s top 10%.

Geoff Boyles attributes the flock’s success to the couple’s team work. “While I manage the genetics - the selection and accompanying paperwork, Jean is responsibly for all the day to day husbandry,” he explains. “Since we swapped our commercial ewe flock for Hampshire Downs 10 years ago realising the breed’s potential as a modern terminal sire, we have carefully selected Hampshire Downs with superior growth and conformation. Consequently we are producing a terminal sire which is highly suited to modern, high output extensive systems.

“These south west farmers are finding Hampshire Down rams are leaving lambs that finish off milk and grass within 12 weeks and grade within the preferred specification,” says Mr Boyles. “What’s more Hampshire Down cross lambs are suited to easier care systems; they are easy to lamb, and demonstrate vitality and hardiness. In addition, the rams are noted for their longevity. Added together and those benefits are improving a flock’s overall efficiency and profitability.”

In overall runner up place for the award were Chris and Kay Westlake, who manage the 50 ewe Owslebury flock at Cadeleigh, Tiverton, while heading the small flock section was Rose Haynes and David Taylor’s 20 ewe Higher Grawley flock based at Milton Damerel, Holsworthy.

Results: champion flock: G and J Boyles; reserve: C and K Westlake. Large flocks: 1,C and K Westlake; 2, HJ Knight and Son; 3, H and H Derryman. Medium flocks: 1, G and J Boyles; 2, J and S Davies; 3, Peter Watson. Small flocks: 1, R Haynes and D Taylor; 2, T and J Hunter; 3, Helen Cox. Best stock rams, C and K Westlake; breeding ewes, G and J Boyles; older ewes, H and H Derryman; shearling ewes, G and J Boyles; ewe lambs, HJ Knight and Son. Scottish flock, Headlind Partners.

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Hampshire Down Sheep Breeders’ Association