NEWS FROM LOWER RYE FARM. Updated: 02/11/2012
More new arrivals.
Following the Eastbach's flock top disperse, I have aquired a number of their flock ewes. These include several daughters of their high index stock ram, L.Kaiser (ZVY:00100) which they purchased from me at the 2010 Premier Sale.
Amongst the other flock ewes are ZNN:8108 (ET sister to RHS Interbreed Champion, LD.I'm Yer Man), YTJ:9024 (purchased for 2000gns and dam of L.Lomu), TZ:9017 (purchased for 1400gns), Dalby Kate (purchased for 2100gns, full ET sister to high index ram, Dalby Kracked It and maternal sister to the 7800gn Loganhead Midas Touch), PE:00112 (maternal sister to Kate, by Parkgate Highlander) and ET daughers from ZNN:5555, ZNN:8108 and ZRF:7025 (all by Kaiser). It will be interesting to see how these new bloodlines compare.
Forever looking for interesting new blood, I privately purchased Meyne Lord of the Hills (XPD:1100059) from Medwyn Lloyd after seeing him at their farm. He is a thickset, tight skinned ram with a well developed hindquarter by a son of Inglis Director. He is out of a daughter of Inglis Chalky (CN:2048) and as such, line bred to Rutland Archie. Coming from a farm 1000' up in mid-Wales, he has already improved by coming 'downhill' a bit. I have used him on a group of the Feb lambing ewes and he is running with the ewe lambs, so we should have a decent number of progeny to assess him properly.
Signet report September 2012.
The September Signet report was published, including the scan data from my later born lambs, all of which have been reared on forage with no creep offered. This management has obviously made there actual weights and scan measurements, but the comparison between lambs in this flock, between flocks and between years can still be made by the Signet BLUP system.
L.Lord's (ZVY1100861) index has remained practically unchanged at 506, retaining his top spot in the Stock Sire listings. His own scan & weighing data were from 'grass only' (no creep whatsoever) rearing and his first progeny, reared on exactly the same system, have backed up his figures with their own performance. The exhibit phenomenal growth rate, great loin muscling and a moderate level of fat, all from a grass diet. He has seen heavy use at Lowerye this year, on the back of his early progeny.
Premier Sale 2012.
Another good Premier Sale for the Lowerye flock, despite the numbers of sheep forward.
Lot 162: 12ZVY 01342 - Lowerye Marvel.
This lamb is bred from power on power and has stood out from birth. He is sired by L.Kinell (ZVY:00084), who was our best son of Inglis Chalky (CN2048). Dam is a powerful, milky ewe by L.Great Guns, who still holds the record for the highest eye muscle recorded in a Charollais at 44.5mm and out of a Lowerye Charlie daughter.
Marvel is the highest index ram lamb in 2012 and the highest index lamb ever offered for sale. He is also MyoMAX Gold.Genotype: ARR/ARR. Breed Index 512. Sold for 3000gns, with a 20% share purchased back after the sale.
Lot 163: 12ZVY 01377 - Lowerye Miraculous.
A powerful lamb by Edstaston Leopards Den (TG:1100073), who we purchased jointly at last year's Premier Sale for 3,000gns. Leopards Den was the highest index lamb sold on the day, by virtue of his massive eye muscle area that had been identified by CT scanning. All of his progeny exhibit the same quality, with great width of loin. The dam of this lamb is built like a brick outhouse, being sired by former sire reference ram, Crogham Five Star (AB:5085) and out of an early daughter of Lowerye Eric. The g.dam reared twin lambs this year at 7 years of age.
Like his sire, Miraculous is MyoMAX Gold.Genotype: ARR/ARR. Breed Index 387. Sold for 1300gns.
Lot 164: 12ZVY 01290 - Lowerye Mighty.
Mighty is by a son of Mortimer Investment (HH8169), who was the top priced ram at Builth in 2009 and sired the 4,000gn L.Lucky Lad at last year's Premier Sale. Mighty's dam is the 8 year old dam of the high muscle stock ram, L.Impressive, the g.dam of L.Kaiser and the g.g.dam of L.Lucky Lad. She has bred ewe lambs with a 40mm eye muscle and 42mm (still the highest measured eye muscle in a Charollais female) and had an eye muscle of 38mm herself. She breeds high muscles regardless of the ram she is put to and Mighty's muscle depth ebv is no exception at +4.77mm.
Mighty carries one copy of the MyoMAX gene.
Genotype: ARR/ARR. Breed Index 370. Sold for 900gns.
We also managed to purchase a new bloodline to try, in the form of Micklehills Munch Bunch (ZWA:1201710). He is a son of Dalby Lazelle (PE:00555), a different bloodline to any I have used and has an index of 452. He is a blocky ram with a whitish head, good growth & muscle and he CT scanned very well for gigot shape. I have used him on a few returns and await the results with interest.
Signet report June 2012.
The Signet blup report was published in early June, with the Lowerye flock again breeding nearly 2/3 of the top 100 ram lambs. Our stock rams also occupy the 3 top spots in the stock sires listing, as well as several more spots not far from the top.
Our 'average' lamb has increased in index again, now having an index of 389 (top 5%).
The highest rated lamb this year is a son of L.Kinell, who has an index of 512. L.Marvel (ZVY:1201342) is destined for the Premier Sale at Worcester on June 30th, where he will be the highest rated ram ever offered for sale. As can be seen from his picture, he is a very smart individual indeed, and has been one of my best lambs right from birth.
In March 2012, after several years of looking for the right opportunity, I left the family partnership and my family and I hiked across the border into Wales. Having secured a long term tenancy on a 320ac lowland holding near Montgomery, Powys, we moved the pedigree and commercial sheep flocks, along with the 2012 pedigree lamb crop and 100 shearling rams. It was a mammoth task, especially as the commercial flock were only a week or so from the start of lambing. Happily, everything went without a hitch and not a single ewe slipped as a result of the journey.
My lambing paddocks are now a 16th century deer park, amongst mature oaks and a couple of 4ac lakes, what could be better? We have set about improving the farm already, and have been getting stuck into liming, fertilising, fencing, weeding, hanging gates....... It is certainly great to have a new challenge to get our teeth into.
Premier Sale 2011.
I had an eventful day at the Worcester Premier Sale, buying a lamb that I had liked since seeing him at home a month previously, and selling my best lamb for 4,000gns.
Lowerye Lucky Lad (ZVY:1100534) is the highest index son of Mortimer Investment (HH:8169) and sold to Mr CH Rees from Glamorgan for 4,000gns.
I also managed to purchase the highest index lamb offered for sale at auction to date, Edstaston Leopards Den (TG:1100073) for 3,000gns. He has an index of 500 and had the highest eye muscle area of all lambs CT scanned in 2011, at 49.92 square cm. He is now jointly owned with P.Scott's Eastbach (WEA) flock.
Edstaston Leopards Den.
Leopards Den carries 2 copies of the MyoMAX gene.
Signet report June 2011.
The Lowerye flock continues to dominate the Signet report published in June 2011. L.Krikey is the highest rated stock sire at 543, whilst ZVY8047 is the highest rated ewe in the breed at 494. The highest rated female is ZVY1100714 (pictured below) at 530, and the highest rated male is ZVY1100681 (pictured below) at 554.
If you list all Charollais females in index order, 17 of the top 18 are bred at Lowerye. In fact, three quarters of all the females in the top 1% of the breed are bred here.
A similar picture is painted in the male rankings, with 73% of the top 1% of the breed being bred at Lowerye.
The Lowerye flock has the highest average index in the breed (415 lambs recorded with an average index of 375). We also have the highest average muscle depth ebv (+4.17mm), the highest average muscularity ebv (+4.29mm) and the highest average lean weight ebv (+3.09kg). Although not breeding for excessive growth, we are also the 8th highest ranked flock for scan weight ebv (+8.04kg).
Our average 2011 born lamb is in the top 5% of the breed for muscle depth ebv, gigot muscularity ebv and overall index. That "average" Lowerye lamb is also in the top 10% of the breed for lean meat ebv and in the top 25% for growth rate.
It was a very satisfying day indeed, when the report was published.
We scanned our December born lambs in early May, as usual. I thought, from handling them in the race, that they had lost a bit of cover over the previous few weeks, probably due to the heat and the rapidly disappearing grazing. Ultrasound scanning appeared to bear me out, with no extreme weights or eye muscle depths on the day and averages generally down. Our highest eye muscle depth was measured on a ewe lamb at 39.5mm and she is now the highest index female in the breed at 530.
Two ram lambs were measured at over 38mm eye muscle, one of which was shown to have a good eye muscle area and gigot score from the CT scanner, propelling him to the top of the Signet rankings. ZVY1100681 is now the highest index Charollais ever recorded, with an index of 554.
2011 Lamb crop.
Our 2011 lamb crop has been our biggest to date, tagging just over 400 lambs. The increased numbers were partly due to the ET program detailed below and partly due to a higher lambing percentage and fewer barreners. They are the most consistent group of lambs that we have ever bred and I had great difficulty, after the first cut, in finding reasons to cull many. However, conscience eased by a good lamb trade, I have culled as hard as ever so that I will have around the usual numbers of replacement females and sale rams, but of an even higher standard than ever.
Fewer barren ewes (forced culling), along with a phenomenal cull ewe trade, has also meant that selection within the ewe flock has been even more ruthless than normal in order to maintain numbers. The standard of the flock has improved further as a result, with the vast majority displaying incredible muscling through the loin and hindquarter. This improvement didn't go unnoticed by the shearing gang, when they set to work in late May, although I don't recall "improvement" being one of the words they used!
In October 2010, we flushed a number of high index ewe lambs along with a tremendous ewe that had been purchased at the 2010 Premier Sale by the Eastbach flock. The result was a total of just over 100 embryos transplanted into Hartline x recipient ewes. These ewes lambed in mid March and were turned out to grass after 24 hours. Almost all of those ET lambs are in the top 5% of the breed on Signet performance records and many will be MyoMAX Gold as well. There are several outstanding individuals amongst their number, a couple are pictured below at 10 weeks of age on grass alone. Who says high index sheep lack shape and need high concentrate levels to perform?
Investment wins Breed Championship.
New purchase, Mortimer Investment (HH8169), was taken to the Royal Cornwall Show in June 2010, where he won the breed championship despite being recently shorn.
2010 Lamb crop.
The 2010 lamb crop is our best yet, in terms of fleshing and consistency. In the Signet recording analysis, over half of the top 100 index ram lambs were bred at Lowerye!
Lowerye Juggernaut (ZVY9040) has bred some tremendously strong lambs with very masculine heads and deep bodies.
L.Impressive (ZVY8250) has maintained his high index, having had a number of progeny scanned for the first time. Those progeny have been shown to have so much loin muscling that he now has the highest muscle depth ebv of any Charollais at +6.47mm!
Brettles Jet Set (WF9078) has bred some exceptionally long, well fleshed lambs with tight skins. He was used on ewes carrying a little fat, in order to reduce the fat levels in the resultant progeny. He has been very successful in that, whilst improving their muscle depths and hindquarter development.
The semen from Rockvilla Golden Promise (VV6049) has resulted in some outstanding females which look set to become potential "stock sire mothers" if they continue as they are. His best son is out of the same ewe as the highest index lamb of 2008 and CT scanned with the highest gigot shape score of any Charollais scanned to date and the 2nd highest index lamb in 2010 at 512. Lowerye Krikey (ZVY0078) will definitely be retained for use in the Lowerye flock.
An exciting new (as yet, unrecorded) ram has joined the stud at Lowerye. Mortimer Investment (HH8169) was purchased at Builth Wells in September 2009, having seen him and his dam before the sale. He was 1st prize Shearling Ram at the sale and was the top priced Charollais at 2,600gns. He has fantastic fleshing throughout and, although not a tall ram, was the heaviest in the Champion pen of shearlings at 125kg. He had caused quite a stir at the sale, where he stood a mile apart from anything else for hindquarter fleshing, to the extent that he was still being prodded and poked by perspective purchasers at midnight the night before the sale! Poor fella took several days to get over his exhaustion.
Investment is a son of the 5,600gns Galtres Favour, that was Champion at the Premier Sale in 2006. His dam is a daughter of Lowerye Baldrick, a very muscular, tight coated son of Foulrice Lionheart, that I sold to the Mortimer flock in 2001 and has sired several stock rams in pedigree flocks for them. At the time of Favour's purchase, I remember thinking I should keep a look out for a son out of a Baldrick daughter, as I thought it could be a good mating ..... and here he is!
Arriving too late for this year's matings, Investment will be put over 50 ewes next summer, with the exciting prospect of progeny in December 2010. He was purchased jointly with the Robert Hopper of the Cogwell flock.
CT Scanning (2009).
This year SAC offered a mobile CT scanning service for the first time, basing the scanner at the Sutton Bonnington campus at Nottingham University. We took full advantage of this and submitted 14 ram lambs for scanning, 5 of which were young lambs born in February which were between 42 ad 48kg lwt. Our lambs scanned very well with remarkably consistent results being achieved. Our average gigot shape score was +7.48 and it varied between 7.08 and 8.03, an incredibly tight variation. The top scoring lamb (L.Juggernaut - ZVY 9040) recorded the third highest gigot score to date and also had one of our best eye muscle area measurements of 35.45 sq.mm, mostly due to the superb width of his loin. Our second highest gigot score was an impressive +7.97, that was for Lowerye Jasper (ZVY 9006), who is destined for the Premier Sale in July.
Remarkably similar gigot scores and and KO% were measured in the young lambs scanned in comparison with the older ones, although the eye muscle areas and body fat% were obviously lower, being smaller lambs. The exercise provided valuable extra data to give more accurate ebvs for our later born lambs.
MyoMAX Gene Testing.
Work on the sheep genome has led to the identification of several gene markers, and to the development of tests to establish their presence. The first of these was the test for resistance to Scrapie, which underpinned the work of the National Scrapie Plan (NSP). Further tests have been developed and many more are being researched. Gene testing is available for footrot resistance and cold tolerance but they appear to be specific to NZ breeds, where the work has been carried out. At present those two tests have been shown to be unreliable when used on UK breeds, despite what some may tell you!
One test that has been validated on UK breeds is the MyoMAX test. More information can be found here. If a sheep has two copies of the gene, then it can be expected to have 10% more lean meat in the hindquarter, if it has one copy then it can be expected to have 4-5% more lean fleshing. The MyoMAX gene has been found in a high number of Texel rams and also in smaller numbers of Charollais and Lleyn sheep. Most of the composite breeds (Rissington, Inverdale Texels and NZ Suffolks) are busily trying to intergress the gene into their populations.
To investigate the prevalence of this gene in our flock, I tested several of our stock rams and a proportion of our ram lambs in May 2009. Lowerye Eric, our main stock ram whose blood now runs through most of the sheep in the flock, is a MyoMAX Gold ram. This means that he has two copies of the MyoMAX gene and all of his progeny will inherit at least one copy. In fact, the rams used in the Innovis trial work on this gene, were sons of Eric. Inglis Chalky (CN 2048) has a single copy as does Lowerye Impressive (ZVY 8250). Several of the progeny of these two rams have been identified as being MyoMAX Gold. Almost all of the other sheep that I have tested to date carry a single copy of the gene, showing that the gene has a high prevalence within the flock. New purchase, Brettles Jet Set (WF9078), also carries 2 copies of the MyoMAX gene.
Ultrasound Scanning May 2009.
We scanned the lamb crop for eye muscle and backfat depth on 4th May, the oldest lambs being 156 days old. In common with several other breeders that I have spoken to, average eye muscles were down on last year at around 33mm, despite the lambs being of similar breeding and being managed the same way as last year. Most likely this is a seasonal effect, where lambs have not "done" as well generally, this Spring. Our top eye muscle was 38.7mm for an Eric son from a daughter of Lowerye Charlie. Next was a powerful son of House, L.Jasper (ZVY 9006), at 38mm. He is entered for the Premier Sale in July.
We also scanned the early February born lambs on the same day, which were mostly around slaughter weights of 38-46kg. They are very young (90 days) to scan but I am assured that the Signet system of splitting the flock into contemporary groups can cope. I was pleased to see significant variation in the scan measurements, with eye muscles varying between 25 and 32mm. Enough to make meaningful comparisons for the purposes of estimating breeding values. I also took a group of 5 of these late lambs to be CT scanned alongside 9 December born lambs. It will certainly be interesting to see how they compare.
2009 lamb crop (Part two).
We lambed around two thirds of the flock in February this year, though I'm not sure that there is any great saving in feed to be had by it. We have no grass growth on this farm in February, so the ewes still had to be supplemented with plenty of hard feed during lactation. Probably the only saving has been in straw for litter!
Around half of the lambs born in February have been progeny of Inglis Chalky (CN 2048) and they are outstanding as a group, with several highly impressive individuals. Had they been born in December then they would undoubtedly have been in the Premier Sale pen. The majority of the rest of the lambs have been by Rainbow House of Letterawe (XPU 7009), who has become "Mr Reliable", breeding thickset, well fleshed lambs that stand "four-square". His late born son, Lowerye Impressive (ZVY8250), was used on a few late repeats and has also thrown a handful of late lambs that are even better fleshed than the progeny of his sire. He will certainly be seeing plenty more use in 2009.
We also had a few February born lambs by L. I's a Good 'Un (ZVY 8057), who was only used lightly as much of the flock is closely related to him. Used on a few shorter, thicker ewes, he has added length and some incredibly well fleshed loins. He himself is growing into an incredibly long, well grown ram.
Of the December lambs, the best Del Boy son (ZVY 9040) continues to be the stand out lamb of the year. I have decided to keep him for my own use, despite several enquiries about sale. There are a whole bunch of exceptional House lambs, 4 of which will be going to the Premier Sale in July. The Chalky lambs have grown into long, well fleshed sheep that will make outstanding shearlings.
2009 lamb crop.
Another year, another outstanding crop of lambs. We lambed fewer ewes in December this year, partly in response to the higher feed costs in 2008, and have more to lamb in February than normal. We have just 110 lambs on the ground and they are doing very well for having a little more space.
We have gone back and used Lowerye Del Boy (ZVY 3198) after a break of two years, as we now have a few more unrelated ewes coming through. He has certainly shown that he has still got "it", with some very impressive individuals amongst his progeny. He has nicked particularly well with females descended from Rutland Ensign, with a ram lamb (ZVY 9040) from Rutland Perky (Ensign's ET sister) looking particularly promising.
We also have a few lambs by the "new boy", Inglis Chalky (CN2048), having only used him lightly in July due to his condition. They are, without exception, an outstanding bunch of lambs. They are strong and long, with wide loins and deep hindquarters. We have a much larger group of ewes in lamb to him through February, if they turn out like the early ones then he will be a very shrewd purchase indeed!
However, the majority of this year's early lambs are by Rainbow House of Letterawe (XPU7009), and they are again showing his exceptional width and fleshing. From these lambs, and those of last year, the magic cross of House on L.Eric daughters looks to produce the ideal commercial ram. I anticipate a top cross of Chalky on the females of that cross, will be something incredible.
New Arrival at Lowerye.
Having bought semen from the ram last year, I have managed to purchase 6 year old ram, Inglis Chalky (CN 2048) for £2,200. I decided to try to buy him after seeing how his lambs had done and after seeing the raw scanning data at the beginning of June. His progeny scanned with decent weights (up to 72kg) and fairly good eye muscle depths (up to 38mm), despite not generally being out of the extreme ebv females in the flock (Eric daughters!). As a result, his index has come in at 321, with well balanced ebvs. This is a good index for an unrecorded ram to enter the Signet system with only a limited amount of progeny data (28 lambs recorded in 2008). Even from this data, he has come in at well above his parent's average and I am fairly certain that it will rise further once more progeny are recorded and some lambs are CT scanned to give more accurate muscularity data.
Inglis Chalky is a solid, long ram with an incredible hindquarter and superb legs and feet, especially for his advancing years! He has a masculine head with a wide muzzle and more head cover (hair) than we would normally breed. His fleece is especially tight, but he is well covered. His progeny at Lowerye this year have shown length, thick tight fleeces and are powerful, well fleshed lambs.
He is sired by Rutland Archie (ZFY0137) who I was under bidder on at the Premier Sale in 2000 and who has bred many good sheep in the Inglis flock. One of those rams, Inglis Cymro, bred the 7,100gns Galtres Favour. Chalky himself was top priced shearling ram at Builth Wells in 2003, when he was sold for 2,200gns. He sired Cwm Dunrig Edward, who was the top priced shearling at Builth Wells in 2005 when he sold for 1,850gns to the Foulrice and Gogwell flocks, where he has been doing a sterling job.
A son of Chalky, L.Iridian (ZVY 8127) has already been sold to the Rainbow flock of Andrew & Jan Walton. He is a long, tall white headed ram with a great hindquarter.
I have used Chalky over 90, mostly Eric daughters, in July and September 2008. The resulting lambs should be full of power and flesh.
Premier Sale (June 2008).
The breed Premier Sale at Worcester market was held a week earlier than usual, at the end of June, so that it didn't clash with the new date for the Royal Show at Stoneleigh. The dividing of the country into zones for move restrictions, which were moving on a near weekly basis, meant that it was necessary to hold an additional Premier Sale for "clear" zone flocks at Welshpool. This split the Worcester ("surveillance" zone) entry in half and also meant that many flocks in the "protection" zone could not take part.
All this disruption, along with uncertainty in livestock farming generally, meant that no-one quite knew what to expect this year. However, the success of the breed as a commercial terminal sire and in the show ring, winning a whole string of interbreed awards at the early summer shows, meant that the trade for the best sheep was better than ever.
In our own pen, our best lamb, L.I's a Good 'Un (ZVY 8057), was sold for 3,000gns. I then managed to secure a half share back in him. He sold to new breeder C.Hawes from Bicester, Oxfordshire. The last in our pen, by L.Eric, sold for 500gns to J.Simpson from Aberdeen, who purchased him over the phone having seen him at home prior to the sale.
Signet report (June 2008).
The National Charollais Breeding Evaluation report again confirmed the Lowerye flock as one of the highest performing in the UK. Nine of the top ten recorded ram lambs are Lowerye bred, including the top index lamb at 487. Lowerye I's a Good 'Un (ZVY 8057) scanned with an eye muscle of 43.6mm at 78kg. He is the second highest growth rate lamb in the top 10% of the breed (ebv +14.04kg) and has the highest eye muscle ebv ever recorded at +7.07mm!
In the stock sire listing, there are 9 sons and 2 grandsons of Lowerye Eric, as well as the old man himself, in the top 10% of recorded sheep. Quite an achievement for any ram. Eric's own index has increased slightly, with the addition of more progeny data, to 423. This index is now based on 812 recorded progeny in 23 flocks.
Our purchase from last year, Rainbow House of Letterawe (XPU 7009), retains his place as the highest index son of the show winning Southam Exotic (NE 4419) with an index of 311, based on 128 recorded progeny.
Ultrasound Scanning May 2008.
We scanned the lamb crop for eye muscle and backfat depth on 2nd May, the oldest lambs being 152 days old. We didn't (quite) manage to set any new records for muscle depth, but had 8 lambs (including 2 females) over the magical 40mm depth, with our average being around 35mm. Rainbow House of Letterawe (XPU7009) put on a good showing with quite a few of his progeny at 37-38mm of muscle and without the excessive fat that his initial ebvs suggest. His top muscle lamb was a smart female with a depth of 40.7mm at 67kg.
The limited number of progeny from L.Eric (ZVY 4090) and L.Great Guns (ZVY 6084), have continued to perform well, with a ram lamb sired by each of them at 40.5mm at 66 and 67kg. Unrecorded ram, Inglis Chalky (CN 2048), has some cracking progeny whose muscle depths average around 35mm, with the best being ZVY 8168 at 37.3mm and 68kg. He is out of an outstanding Eric daughter and most probably destined for the Premier Sale at Worcester in June. The Chalky twins that I have liked the most since birth, ZVY 8117 & 8118, scanned with 35.4mm at 72kg and 36.1mm at 65kg. Both have outstanding confirmation lambs and are as long as trains and I am having a hard job choosing between them.
The top scanning lamb this year is by Sire Reference Ram, Dalby Galactico (PE 6077). Reared as a twin and out of a high muscle Eric daughter, L.I's a Good 'Un (ZVY 8057) weighed in at 78kg and scanned with an eye muscle depth of 43.6mm. He is a tall ram, with an outstanding loin and stands on correct legs and feet with medium bone strength. He has a strong, masculine head with a little cover and struts around as if he knows he's something special (I doubt he knows quite how special though). From his pedigree and his 8 week weights, his predicted index was 477. He may well exceed that!
Farmer's Guardian Feature.
The Lowerye flock has been featured in the Farmer's Guardian newspaper. Click here to read the article.
2008 lamb crop.
The 2008 lamb crop is something to behold, mostly sired by the highest muscle stock rams in the Charollais breed. Culling has, as usual, been vigorous, encouraged by spring lamb trade that saw our lambs average £124/head in the run up to Easter. As a result, the lambs that have been retained for breeding are an outstanding bunch.
We have some cracking shaped lamb by all of our main stock sires. L.Eric (ZVY 4090), now only seeing limited use, has once again left some good carcass lambs. His son, L.Great Guns (ZVY 6084), has bred some big lambs with tremendous loins and hindquarters. Handling some of those, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a new eye muscle record at scanning this year, the breeding of some of them has the potential, being ET born from some of the top muscle ebv females in the breed.
New purchase, Rainbow House of Letterawe (XPU 7009) has produced some very thick lambs out of Eric daughters. We also have some smart lambs by the unrecorded ram that we used by AI, Inglis Chalky (CN 2048). A couple of his lambs from Eric daughters are outstanding, as are two twins from my best L.Charlie (ZVY 2019) daughter. I await their scanning results to see if there will be a new stock sire amongst them.
Signet report (Sept 2007).
The Signet final report for the 2007 lamb crop confirmed L.Great Guns (ZVY 6084) as the highest index stock sire in the breed at 486. A late born ram lamb out of his twin sister is also the 2nd highest index lamb in 2007, at 476. He weighed 79kg at 21 weeks, not bad for a teg's lamb! By Crogham Five Star (AB 5085), he has a breed topping growth rate ebv of +15.24kg combined with a muscle depth ebv of +3.76. His dam, ZVY 6085, is the highest index female in the breed at 485. She has a scan weight ebv of +11.49kg and a muscle ebv of +5.25mm. She is scanned in lamb for December to the sire reference ram, Dalby Galactico (PE 6077).
L.Great Guns' 2007 born full brother, ZVY 7200, is the 7th highest index ram lamb, with an index of 452. The female line is also the one that bred the superb L.Eric (ZVY 4090). Looks like that family is shaping up quite well!
New Purchase for 2007.
Having judged the 2007 Staffordshire Show, I was able to privately purchase the lamb that I placed first in the ram lamb class. Rainbow House of Letterawe (XPU7009) was shown untrimmed and stood out from the moment he walked into the ring. He has a masculine head and displays power and width throughout and has an incredibly dense, tight fleece. When enquiring after the show I discovered that he had scanned with an eye muscle depth of 40.9mm and had performed well in the CT scanner as well, with a gigot muscularity score of 7.91, one of the highest this year. He is by the multiple show champion, Southam Exotic, who has also sired progeny to 7,600gns and, I think, is his highest index son to date.
I have been so impressed by this lamb and how he has developed over the summer, that I have used him over more than 100 females in 2007. His progeny from daughters of Eric should be quite outstanding.
Signet report 2007.
The Signet Sheepbreeder report showed another good year for Lowerye bloodlines, which accounted for two thirds of the top 100 ram lambs. The stock sire list is headed by L.Great Guns (ZVY 6084) who is consistently breeding his superb muscling qualities. He has been used through AI and ET in 2007 on some very high muscle and very high indexing ewes (up to 470!), so look out for some serious muscling in the 2008 lamb crop!
New ram Crogham Five Star (AB5085) took a bit of a tumble on his muscle ebv through breeding some low muscle progeny in some of the other Sire Reference Scheme flocks. Thankfully, his use exclusively on Eric daughters has meant that we have a number of good muscle individuals with his power and length, not least is L.Humpty Dumpty (ZVY7061) who was selected as a reference ram for 2008.
L.Gigolo (ZVY6069) has left us some powerful lambs with strong heads and great width, but his muscle ebv has also dropped, to a still credible +3.01mm, still placing him in the top 15% of the breed for muscle depth and scan weight ebvs.
L.Eric (ZVY4090) managed to maintain his fantastic figures with only a slight move to an index of 417, his muscle ebv being +5.39mm, which is one of the very highest in the breed. His index is now based on 768 recorded progeny in a 23 different flocks, he has also seen a large amount of use, through frozen semen, in unrecorded flocks.
Ultrasound Scanning 2007.
We again scanned the lamb crop for eye muscle and backfat depth on 2nd May, the oldest lambs being 149 days old. Rising star, L.Great Guns (ZVY 6084) certainly produced the goods with 2 of the top 3 lambs (based on raw scanning data) being his progeny. ZVY 7074, the lamb that has been picked out by several visitors already, scanned the best overall with an eye muscle depth of 40.3mm at a weight of 70kg. He is a superb individual and absolutely correct in every way, he comes from a 6 year old Foulrice Lionheart daughter that has bred many, many good sheep through extensive ET and natural service. She will be flushed again this year to Great Guns.
Lowerye Gigolo (ZVY 6069) sired some good lambs including our second placed lamb and a ewe lamb with an eye muscle depth of 41.6mm. L.Eric again made some extreme muscle sheep while his grandsons by new boy, Crogham Five Star (AB 5085), are huge and strong with a couple also having eye muscle depths in excess of 40mm.
In all we had half a dozen ram lambs and a couple of ewe lambs over the magical 40mm eye muscle, to a top of 41.9mm (L.Eric x L.Double Entendre) and ten over 70kg liveweight, to a top of 75kg (L.Eric x L.Del Boy).
All in all, a satisfying result showing the flock's performance continuing to make steady progress at the same time as fine tuning the stamp of sheep that I feel suit the market.
2007 lamb crop.
I consider the 2007 lamb crop to be our best yet, mostly sired by our highest muscle stock rams yet. It is getting increasingly difficult with each passing year, to select enough lambs to cull, but ruthless culling I believe is essential to make progress. Our lambs have done exceptionally well this year, with all bar 5 of our culls sold before Easter in early April. We were again the first spring lambs in our local mart, with a dozen lambs in danger of going well overweight by Easter.
We have some superb lambs this year by Eric again, but also many lambs from his daughters by Crogham Five Star, by Eric's maternal brother L.Gigolo, and by his best son, L.Great Guns. Progeny of the latter have certainly been "going great guns" and he has become the first Charollais ram to exceed 500 index points based on their 8 week weights.
Flock Competition 2006.
We have again won the Champion flock in the Central Region (South) flock competition. It was, very ably I must say, judged by Tony Skuse. We were also awarded the Champion Shearling ewes.
We were however, pipped to the post in the overall Central Region competition, getting Reserve Champion again. The overall Champion award went to R&J Gregory's Edstaston flock, perhaps the half share they have in Lowerye Del Boy helped (?). Congratulations to them both.
Crogham Five Star (AB 5085), our new boy!
After seeing the shearling Sire Reference ram, Crogham Five Star (AB 5085) at the sire reference selection day in June, we managed to buy a half share in the ram from Stuart Dunkley's Hyde (SU) flock. I had been so impressed by his immense size and power, his superb masculine head and the depth of sound breeding behind him. He is an ET son of Crogham Deuce (AB 3095), a huge Rutland Alamos son that is the highest growth rate ram in the Signet scheme, and out a Crogham Commissioner (AB 8148) daughter that was a triplet sister to AB 9312, that started a successful new male line in the Dalby (PE) flock. The dam of that Commissioner daughter is AB 7069, an Envoy daughter that has bred almost all of the highest indexing sheep in the Crogham flock in recent years.
Five Star's sire, Deuce, is also out of a Commissioner daughter from the female line that bred the incredibly powerful Crogham Cannon and Crogham Cracker, that line has input from several successful high priced rams including Gall Marauder (AM 0031), top price at the Watcombe (AC) dispersal sale in 1994, and Drumhilla Danny Boy (ZXY 5017), who was top price at the Northern Ireland Premier Sale in 1995.
Five Star is a huge, long ram with a powerful head, strong bone and a great depth of hindquarter. He has an index of 368 and has been used over 90 daughters of Lowerye Eric (ZVY 4090), it should be a match made in heaven.
Premier Sale - July 2006.
Despite the sale being of a "patchy" nature, with what was generally agreed to be too many poorer quality rams forward, our entry of 6 ram lambs sold well to average 950 gns, with a top of 1,300gns.
All 6 were sons of Lowerye Eric (ZVY 4090) and had done well in the breed evaluation the previous day with 1 Bronze award, 1 Silver award and 1 Gold award. The Gold lamb, ZVY 6093, was the 5th highest pointed lamb in the evaluation and had the highest loin score and the highest hindquarter score (by 5 points!) of all the ram lambs in the sale. He had been scanned with an eye muscle depth of over 40mm and was the highest index sheep in the sale. He sold into Wales at our top price of 1,300 gns.
A handful of Eric sons presented by other breeders also sold well.
Ultrasound Scanning 2006.
Ultrasound scanning for backfat and eye muscle depth was carried out a little earlier than usual on the 2nd of May, with the lambing date having also been a week later. I was a bit concerned that scanning at an earlier age would make our actual results seem less impressive but I needn't have worried, the progress made by the flock in the last 12 months has more than made up the difference. Our heaviest lamb weighed in at 77 kg and our best eye muscle measured at a new breed record of 44.5mm! We had 6 ram lambs and 2 ewe lambs measuring in excess of 40mm eye muscle with a lot of others "knocking on the door". The heaviest lamb was out of Eric's dam by double Royal Show winner, Rutland Ensign, he also scanned with an eye muscle depth of 40.9mm and will be retained for use in the Lowerye flock, he may even be a better ram than Eric!
2006 Lamb Crop.
We again have an outstanding crop of lambs, the result of many years of rigorous, ruthless culling for type and index. Almost all exhibit width and power with strong heads and heavy fleshing through the loin and gigot, just what we are aiming for. They are predominantly by Lowerye Eric (ZVY 4090), who has 175 ewes in-lamb to him this season, but there are also a few of the last lambs by L.Double Entendre (ZVY 3162) that are looking good.
The most exceptional lamb to catch your eye this year is ZVY 6069, a single ram lamb by reference ram and double Royal Show winner, Rutland Ensign (ZFY 4036). His is growing at a phenomenal pace and has incredible presence whilst having strong fleshing in the loin. He is an incredibly masculine ram with a tremendous head but with just a less hindquarter than Eric's progeny, but he oozes style. He is out of ZVY 1057, one of my very best breeding ewes that is also the dam of L.Eric. Ensign has also sired a couple of other good lambs from Lionheart daughters showing it to be a successful cross. Only time will tell how well these lambs develop.
Flock Competition 2005.
We were, yet again, awarded Reserve Champion flock in the Central Region (South) flock competition, ably judged by Geraint Lloyd. We won 1st prize in the Junior Stock Ram class with Arjane Flasharo (ZRF 5017), 2nd in the Stock Sire class with Lowerye Eric (ZVY 4090) and 1st prize in the ewe lamb class, predominantly with Eric's daughters. It was pleasing to see that we are "in the running" with so many different types of judge.
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