2015-02-11   facebooktwitterrss

Crewlands Suffolks Endorse Volac Eco Feeder

“A super job,” is how Co Londonderry sheep farmer Stephen Sufferin describes the Eco Feeder from Volac he uses for surplus lambs.

Farming near Maghera, Stephen Sufferin has two main enterprises on the family farm, timber and sheep. The SJS Group founded by Stephen in 2005 produces pallets, skids, bearers, collapsible crates, dried sand and kindling with the latter going UK wide to major retailers such as B&Q and Homebase.

Alistair Sampson, right, Volac NI with Stephen Sufferin, and Bert Clarke, left, who use an Eco Feeder and Volac ewe milk powder to  save time rearing surplus lambs. The use of ET and AI helping produce bumper crops of Crewelands Pedigree Suffolk lambs.

Alistair Sampson, right, Volac NI with Stephen Sufferin, and Bert Clarke, left, who use an Eco Feeder and Volac ewe milk powder to save time rearing surplus lambs. The use of ET and AI helping produce bumper crops of Crewelands Pedigree Suffolk lambs.

The other enterprise is the Crewelands Pedigree Suffolk Flock. ”Years ago we had sheep and they were my real interest hence the Suffolk flock was founded when my father retired from Limousins and subsequently handed over to me in 2010,” Stephen explained.

“The flock has grown to 30 pedigree ewes along with another 120 commercial ewes used for ET work. Using ET and AI speeds up genetic progress and makes the best use of the top performing 25% of our flock.

“It also has given us lots of lambs including many triplets so a time saving solution was needed to help rear them successfully.

“For us the answer has been the Eco lamb feeder, which automatically mixes the milk powder and keeps it warm and fresh with a stir every hour. A heater element around the base of the bowl ensures lambs always get milk at the right temperature as well as the right consistency.

“The amount of time and trauma saved by using the Volac Eco Feeder will certainly justify the cost as it is a simple, robust bit of kit made to last.”

Having grown his farm based timber business from two to 18 employees in less than 10 years Stephen and family are replicating this success with their Suffolks.

In their first year of showing ram lambs at the NI Premier Sale Crewelands stock took the Novice Cup and the Reserve Overall Championship. This was followed up by further show and sales successes in the province, including the best ewe lambs award in the annual flock competition.

Encouraged Stephen went national and entered lambs for Stirling last year to compete with the cream of the eye catching terminal sire breed from all four home nations!

“Quite an experience and a very encouraging adventure as we sold to 2000gns and came 5th in the Novice Class,” recalled Stephen, who pays tribute to the support of his father, wife and children.

“Another huge help in keeping both the timber and sheep enterprises moving forward is the input of my cousin Bert Clarke. Most of the year he works in the sawmill, but when necessary his priority is the sheep.

“My time is very valuable so having both the Eco lamb feeder and Bert as back up lets me away from routine work around the sheep and back to the sawmill business.

“We both find using the right products with the right levels of protein plays a big part in getting a lamb crop off to a good start. Volac Volostrum and Lamlac milk powders manufactured using a unique filtration process are rightly market toppers for decades.

“With few foster ewes about when we are lambing having the right feeder and the right powder on hand is essential.”

Looking ahead Stephen is keeping the emphasis on breeding rams that work on commercial flocks by siring robust lambs that give the right returns.

“That means breeding sheep with the ‘skins, bodies and bums,’ which prove they are well able to produce lambs that please on the hoof or hanging up. Yet at the same time we are striving to retain the traditional Suffolk attributes.

“In short, the type of Suffolk that attracts both commercial and pedigree flock owners aiming to add value to their next lamb crop.

“So with every new born Crewelands lamb a potential sale topper investing in purpose built housing, an Eco Feeder and using only Volac milk powder were easy decisions.”

Volac

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