2013-12-20   facebooktwitterrss
Demand for Pedigree Sheep meets new Record Highs

The prices being paid for pedigree sheep have never been higher, with top class in-lamb sheep attaining averages of more than £1,000 in the pre-Christmas sales.

The strong trend, resulting from a growing knowledge of genetics as farmers realise that better bred stock can command top prices, is expected to continue into the New Year when Harrison & Hetherington holds three major Texel sales from Borders flocks.


Scott Donaldson, Harrison & Hetherington’s Sales Director based at Borderway Mart in Carlisle, says interest in pedigree sheep is at an all-time high.

“Interest and understanding of genetics is no longer the preserve of the specialist,” he said.

“Farmers who recognise that if they want to breed the best animals, they need to choose stock with certain genetics for specific qualities. The understanding of the role of genetics to improve stock has been steadily increasing, and numbers of farmers are now prepared to spend money on quality sheep to produce the top finished article.

“We’ve seen that in practice in our pre-Christmas pedigree sheep sales and I wouldn’t be surprised if November and December’s excellent run of prices are followed through in January.”

In December, Harrison & Hetherington sold more than 1,000 pedigree in-lamb sheep. Texel Sheep that went under the hammer in the Twilight, Christmas Star and Christmas Cracker sales all achieved averages in excess of £1,000.

The prices paid for pedigree Suffolks sold in the Strathisla Dispersal Sale at the end of November were even higher, with a sale average of £1,500-plus for in lamb-ewes and a top price of 10,000gns for a three crop ewe. The sale for Robbie Wilson of Aberdeen’s flock attracted breeders from across the UK, Ireland and Europe because of the quality of animals going under the hammer.

Other sales including Beltex, Blue Texel and Zwartables have all commanded a huge interest and increases in sale averages.

The in-lamb pedigree sheep sales continue in January with three tremendous Borders Texel Sales from the Drinkstone flock in Hawick, Tweed Texel’s and Brijon Texel’s from Berwickshire.

“In the commercial world top quality prime lambs are sought after and regularly achieve a large premium above the average, and this is what is driving these pedigree sales,” said Mr Donaldson.

“There is a fantastic interest. The interest in in-lamb pedigree sheep continues to grow; this is a relatively new phenomenon. Ten years ago, in-lamb sales of pedigree sheep were few and far between but now these are regular dates in the pedigree sheep sales diary.

“The quality of the sales we had in December was excellent and there continues to be a strong market. There has been some outstanding breeding on offer and more and more breeders want a piece the pedigree jigsaw.

The 2014 opening sale is 179 pedigree Texel in-lamb ewes and gimmers from Arnold Park’s renowned Drinkstone flock at Hawick, which will be auctioned at Carlisle on January 6. The 88 ewes and 91 gimmers are all MV accredited and Scrapie monitored.

The flock, founded in 1980, has been run commercially on an exposed hill farm, and has an overall EBV Index of 368 – just 1% shy of averaging in the top 1% of Texels in the UK.

Mr Park said: “We are confident that these females on offer can make a useful genetic contribution to many flocks or provide an outstanding base for new flocks in the Texel breed. We are including our old faithfuls who have made a massive contribution in the flock.”

On January 13, buyers will have the opportunity to take home quality in-lamb Texel’s from the Brijon Flock run by Messrs Redhead & Watson, and from the Tweed Flock of Neil Crighton. The entire crop of MV accredited and vaccinated 2012 females from the Tweed Flock are going under the hammer, with the guarantee that they are in-lamb to either Langside Rolex or Teviot Rocket. The flock’s EBVs have been recorded since 2002, and last year it was in the top 10% for the breed, with the 2012 lambs third overall out of the 200 flocks monitored in the scheme.

Mr Crighton said: “These gimmers have shape, size and skins and I would have great confidence they will go on and perform for prospective buyers.”

The Brijon Texel Flock, which is MV accredited and vaccinated, is holding its first flock reduction sale on the same day. The flock’s entire in-lamb gimmer crop is up for sale.

Jonathon Watson said:“We have been breeding Texels since 1999, running 140 ewes, and we felt that this was the time to sell our entire lamb gimmer crop.

“With the commercial producer in mind from the outset, our aim has been to breed an easy to lamb Texel ewe for its carcase. For those considering purchasing I can confirm that they are easy to lamb sheep and in the 13 years since we started breeding every sheep has lambed naturally”

The three outstanding sales are expected to attract pedigree and commercial buyers from far and wide to Carlisle.

Harrison & Hetherington’s Scott Donaldson said: “There are sheep to interest all flock management systems. They are all renowned breeders’ flocks which have regularly achieved top averages and there will tremendous choice for purchasers.


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