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Stackyard News Oct 2011

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Asda Backed Easy Care Flock Takes Top Sale Honours

A flock of Easy Care sheep run at Barony College, Dumfries, and backed by leading supermarket Asda, has taken some of the top prices at a recent Easy Care Sheep Society sale.

Barony Easy Care ram lamb - 500gns

Barony Easy Care ram lamb at Carlisle

The flock, which was started last year with stock sourced from the breed’s original developer Iolo Owen, lambed for the first time this year and produced the top priced ram lamb at last week’s Easy Care Sheep Society sale at Carlisle, with the lamb selling for 500gns to fellow Dumfriesshire breeder Derek Steen.

The flock is part of an ongoing Asda trial investigating low cost, high output sheep systems, with the Easy Care selectively bred for easy lambing and requiring less intervention at other times too, says Asda agricultural manager Pearce Hughes.

A total of 60 Easy Care ewes were introduced to Barony College’s sheep unit last autumn under the management of Craig Drummond who says he’s been exceptionally impressed with the performance so far.

The college farm has traditionally run a fairly intensive flock of Scotch Mules which has been lambed indoors and is a high input operation, says Mr Drummond. “I was keen to see if there was another way of doing things which would be equally profitable.

“So far the Easy Care certainly look like they could fit the bill. The 60 ewes were scanned at 198%, with 189% weaned from the ewes put to the tup. “The lambs have done really well on their mothers and the ewes have had an amazing amount of milk despite having had no concentrate feed at all.

“The flock lambed outside and with the kind spring we had this year outside lambing with the Easy Cares was easier than the more intensive indoor lambing with Scotch Mules. They look like they’ll have the output of a Scotch Mule with the inputs of a Blackface.

“I’m looking at putting the Easy Care numbers up to 200 ewes and using them as a way of expanding the flock without incurring too many extra overheads.”

Mr Hughes says Asda is delighted with the early success of the flock and it has demonstrated that Easy Cares can be a viable alternative to a conventional indoor lambing flock. “One of the concerns with outdoor lambing systems is the potential for high lamb losses and mis-mothering.

“But the Easy Cares have proved this doesn’t have to be the case and with no need to shear them and much reduced flystrike risk they really are a lower input breed which can still maintain good levels of output.”

link New Lleyn Sheep Sale a Great Success
link NFUS Asks for Changes to Flock Inspection Approach
link Hampshire Downs Set Ewe Lamb Record at Carlisle

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