© 2019 by N.Oughton.

We run a commercial flock of approximately 500 crossbred ewes, based on Highlander composite genetics from New Zealand. Having previously run a flock of almost Texel x Cambridge ewes lambing indoors, we moved to a more sustainable management model in 2008, breeding Highlander X ewes from those Texel crosses, and using mostly Highlander rams to breed our replacements since then. We have also incorporated NZ Texel genetics into the flock, but have come back to the Highlander again.  

 

The flock are managed on a 100% forage diet, wintering on grazed root crops, lambing outside on grass paddocks before moving onto rotationally grazed grass paddocks over the summer.

 

A proportion of the best ewes are crossed to the Highlander ram to breed replacements, with everything else crossed to a Charollais ram to breed prime lambs for slaughter. 

Highlander flock ewes
Strip grazing swedes behind electric fence

Ewe lambs are managed in exactly the same way over winter, before lambing outside to a Beltex sire. These give us low birthweights and slow growing lambs, making for an easier time for the ewe hoggs, setting her up for full production the next year.

Outdoor lambing. Highlander ewe and Charollais lambs
Highlander ewe lambs

All of the maternal rams that have been used in the flock since 2008 have been tested as double carriers of the MyoMAX gene, meaning that the majority of the flock ewes will now be double carriers too. Combined with the high level of double carriers in the Charollais genetics used over them, our prime lamb output will be benefiting from approximately 10% extra lean meat in the hindquarter.

As a result, our 2018 lamb crop (including the maternal whethers) graded with approximately one third 'E' grades, half 'U' grades, with the remainder grading as an 'R'.

For ease of management, the commercial flock is maintained with the same high health status as the pedigree flocks, which means I can utilise the easy lambing maternal genetics bred into the flock as ideal recipient ewes in my ET flushing programs. Occasionally I have a small number of ewes that can be made available for sale for this purpose. Please enquire if you require ET recipient ewes.