The Benfield flock of Shropshires, owned by
Richard and Rosemary Spencer, Alkmonton,
near Ashbourne, Derbyshire
Flexibility for Flock-Owners
Shropshire sheep adapt to every soil and climate. They flourish throughout the UK, from the English lowlands to the highlands and islands of Scotland. Flocks are also kept successfully in the high rainfall areas of Ireland and at altitudes of more than 300 metres (1000 feet) in the mountainous areas of Wales.
Great Prolificacy and Longevity
Shropshire ewes have the ability to lamb early, and regularly achieve lambing percentages of 160% and above. As dams, Shropshires are docile, milky and rear twin lambs with ease. They are extremely hardy and have a long productive flock life.
Easy Care and Thrifty
Shropshires are a relatively easy-care breed, being docile and easy to handle and requiring only minimal routine husbandry in most situations. The breed has a well-proven ability to finish successfully from grass alone.
Top Quality Shropshire Lamb
The Shropshire was developed as a supreme meat breed, and today’s Shropshires retain the ability to produce finished lambs of the highest quality. The breed combines fast growth with excellent carcass traits.
Recent carcass grading figures for a consignment of 22 lambs supplied in the Summer of 2005 to Lloyd Maunder (see below), show the high quality of Shropshire lambs.
After slaughter, the lambs were weighed and then assessed “on the hook” by independent inspectors. Each lamb received a grade for carcase conformation and the level of fat cover. For carcass conformation, there are 5 grades (E, U, R, O and P) where “E” is the best and “P” is the poorest. For fat class, “1” is the leanest and “5” the fattest, with grades 3 and 4 being split into two categories: Light (L) and Heavy (H). Grades 3H up to 5 are generally considered too fat. Fat class 1 is generally considered too lean.
SHROPSHIRE LAMB GRADES – SUMMER 2005
|Number of lambs||Confirmation and Fat Class|
The average weight was 22.6kg
(The above Figures were kindly supplied by SSBA members, John and Pauline Bowles)
100% of the Shropshire lambs met the supermarket buyers’ specifications for conformation and fat class.
16 lambs (73%) were classified in the top two grades for conformation, which can be influenced only by breeding
Not one of the lambs was too fat – indeed, 100% achieved the most desirable grades for fat cover.
By contrast, figures from the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) reveal that only 58.9% of lambs in England meet the target grades of E/U/R with a fat cover of 2/3L. On average, some 23.3% of lambs are too fat, and 17.8% have poor conformation.
Excellent Scrapie Resistance
Since the launch of the National Scrapie Plan, nearly 4,500 Shropshires have been genotyped. The breed is completely free from the “V” allele, which is linked to Scrapie susceptibility. According to the latest NSP figures for the breed, and around 60% of animals are Type 1 or Type 2 – the most resistant genotypes.
Valuable Shropshire Wool
Shropshires produce high quality wool, suitable for hand knitting and a wide range of other uses. The sheep have a more complete covering of wool than any other Downland breed, and produce a heavy, dense fleece weighing between 2 and 3kg.