Society News

Melton Mowbray 12th & 13th September 2014 - Results

SHROPSHIRE numbers were similar to the previous year with 33 sheep forward for the 2014 National Show and Sale (East) at Melton Mowbray on 13th September, However, only three flocks entered sheep in the show on the Friday. Judge Carol Watson chose a shearling ewe from Alan Oliver's Sprotbrough Flock as Champion with a twoshear ram from the same flock as Reserve.
Other first prize winners were the ram lamb from Robert Webb's Clipston Flock and a ewe
lamb also from Alan Oliver's flock.


At Saturday's sale, females were sought after with 22 of the 28 put forward being sold. Two
ram lambs and the Reserve Champion ram, Sprotbrough Paradigm by Alderton Bonzo,
also found buyers. The top price of 360gns was paid for Robert Webb's ram lamb, Clipston Ian by Alderton Hugo. Alan Oliver's Champion shearling ewe, also by Alderton Bonzo, sold for 290gns. The average price for shearling ewes was up by £30 over the previous year with ewe lamb prices similar to those of 2013.

Category First Prize Second Prize Third Prize
Shearling Ram A Oliver L & P Newman  
Ram Lamb R C Webb L & P Newman A Oliver
Shearling Ewe A Oliver L & P Newman  
Ewe Lamb A Oliver A Oliver A Oliver
Trophy Winner(s)
Champion A Oliver (Shearling Ewe)
Reserve Champion A Oliver (Shearling Ram)

Sale Pricing

 

Top Price

(Gns)

No. Sold

Average Price

Pounds

Ram Lambs
360
2
294
Shearling Lambs
100
1
100
Shearling Ewes
250
15
192
Ewe Lambs
120
7
115

 

National Show & Sale (West) Shrewsbury 26th July 2014

Now in its fifth year the Shropshire sheep breeder’s national show and sale (West), which is also incorporated with Halls Traditional Native and Rare breeds livestock sale, held at Shrewsbury Auction saw bumper entries from breed members this year.


The highest price paid on the day was for Stonegrove Livestock’s senior ram Hayne Oak Napoleon II, selling for 780gns, bought by Crows (Agricultural) Ltd who also bought 12 Shropshire ewes to start their flock in Dorrington.


Hayne Oak Napoleon II won his class but did not sweep the board as the judge, John Simms from Swadlincote, chose JH & PA Bowles’s ram lamb as the winner of Roydon trophy. This trophy is presented to the best opposite sex to the champion.


Heading up the female trade was the pre-sale female champion and interbreed champion, CO & SL Morgan-Jones’s shearling ewe who sold for 350gns. Charlie Morgan-Jones also won the Southworth shield for the best pen of two or more, along with the coveted Morley Perpetual Challenge Cup for Champion. Hailing from Church Preen in Shropshire, this was a fantastic result for novice show man.

Shrewsbury 26th July 2014 - Results

Category First Prize Second Prize Third Prize
Adult Ram Stonegrove Livestock R C Webb M Hustinx
Shearling Ram Mrs J Hares L Bowles & M Bray A & M Webb
Ram Lamb JH & PA Bowles M & S Shimwell L Bowles & M Bray
Adult Ewe L Bowles & M Bray JH & PA Bowles  
Shearling Ewe C O & S L Morgan Jones Stonegrove Livestock C O & S L Morgan Jones
Ewe Lamb L Bolwes & M Bray L Bowles & M Bray Mrs J Hares
Trophy Winner(s)
Champion C O & S L Morgan Jones (Shearling Ewe)
Best Opposite Sex to the Champion L Bowles & M Bray (Ewe Lamb)
Roydon Trophy JH & PA Bowles ( Ram Lamb)
Southworth Shield C O & S L Morgan Jones
Junior Member with the highest placed exhibitor - bred Shropshire in the show C O & S L Morgan Jones

Sale Pricing

 

Top Price

(Gns)

No. Sold

Average Price

Pounds

Adult Rams
780
3
424
Shearling Rams
540
9
336
Ram Lambs
550
7
387
Adult Ewes
400
5
319
Shearling Ewes
450
19
267
Ewe Lambs
340
21
216

 

Interbread 2014
Small Flock 2014
CO Morgan-Jones - Interbreed Champion 2014
Small Flock Cup - Mr & Mrs M Shimwell


The winner of the Halls Shrewsbury Auction Centre Small Flock Cup for the highest priced Shropshire from a small flock was won by Mr& Mrs M Shimwell from Congleton, Cheshire with their ram lamb, sired by Morley Macho.


 

Field Lab 1
Eblex Bowles 2014
First Field Lab at Showle Court- The Soil Association is running  afield lab on management of Shropshire sheep in fruit orchards. The first session was well attended and it is intended to have more sessions over the next six months.  Watch this space for news of the next lab. New members welcome to attend
EBLEX Open Day with the Bowles Family: Over 20 sheep farmers enjoyed a sunny afternoon in Devon hearing about the value of recording performance and ram MOTs. The best genetics within the Hayne Oak and Sidedowns flocks was on display including top rated terminal sire index ram Hayne Oak Nelson

 

National Show & Sale (East) Melton Mowbray

Friday 11th & Saturday 12th September

The Melton Mowbray 12th National Native Breeds Show and Sale is now open for entries.

Schedules can be downloaded and entries made on the web site www.grassroots.co.uk/melton.html 

Closing date for paper entries is 3rd August and for on line entries is the 10th August

This is a breed society event.  All exhibitors must be members of the relevant society and all entries must be fully registered (with the exception of Oxford lambs which must be eligible for registration)

On line entries close on 10th August.  For all the ‘Grassroots’ breeds ,  we would like a copy of your back up that day please, so that we can extract the pedigrees for the catalogue.

 

 


Signet Logo

Sheep Breeding & Fertility
Stenhill Farm, Bradfield, Nr Cullompton,
Devon, EX15 2RA
By kind invitation of the Bowles family
Friday 20th June 2pm - 4pm


Background


Rams with superior genetics directly influence the profitability of commercial flocks. High EBV sires have been proven to deliver benefits of up to £3/lamb - a highly cost effective return on investment - but one that hinges on the ram having a long productive life. These workshops enable producers to learn about EBV based ram selection and issues influencing ram fertility.


The Sidedowns Flock was established in 1976 and their genes have widely influenced the Shropshire breed with the Hayne Oak flock established in 1999. Both flocks have been performance recorded since 2006 and they recently imported American genetics in their quest to enhance the carcase attributes of their stock.

Programme


2:00pm - Registration
2:10pm - Welcome - Samuel Boon, Signet Breeding Services
2.15pm - Introduction to the Hayne Oak and Sidedowns Flock - Liz Bowles
2.45pm - Genetic improvement to enhance commercial sheep production - Samuel Boon
3.15pm - Optimising ram fertility - Katie Brian, EBLEX
3:45pm - Discussion and look at the Shropshire Sheep from the Hayne Oak and Sidedowns flocks
4:00pm - Official conclusion and departure
4:15pm - Optional trip: A number of the Shropshire ewes and lambs will be grazing a couple of miles from the farm. Liz will lead a convoy of those that are interested to see these sheep grazing in the nearby village of Butterleigh.


To book your FREE place ring the EBLEX events office on 01904 771211 or email brpevents@eblex.ahdb.org.uk


Shropshire Sheep working with the Soil Association - Field Lab


First Session: 19th June at Showle Court, Monkhide, Ledbury, Herefordshire, HR8 2TX


From 9.30am - 3pm


Background


Shropshire sheep are renowned across Europe for their ability to graze relatively safely in Xmas tree plantations. Increasingly they are being used to graze in fruit orchards in France and to some extent in the UK.
The management requirements for grazing these sheep in Xmas tree plantations are well known. The potential for the use of Shropshire sheep in orchards, vineyards and conifer plantations in the UK and beyond is significant. There are around 25,000 ha conifer plantations in the UK and upwards of 14,000 ha top fruit orchards with steady increases in orchard planting by the major cider manufacturers such as Bulmers and Thatcher's as the market for cider grows.
This Field Lab will look at sward and management requirements for safe grazing of Shropshire sheep in apple orchards across the UK in order to be able to:-

Who should get involved


This field lab will be of interest to all top fruit growers and to sheep breeders who are looking to develop their enterprise by working alongside top fruit growers to utilise forage within orchards and to Shropshire sheep breeders.


For more information and to let us know you would like to be involved please go to: http://bit.ly/1m4EQ0z

To find out more about field labs please go to: http://www.soilassociation.org/innovativefarming/duchyoriginalsfuturefarmingprogramme/fieldlabs/faqs

 


Recent publicity in Waitrose Weekend Magazine


The Shropshire Sheep Breeders Association is working with the Soil Association to run a field lab to improve our understanding of how to manage Shropshire sheep in apple orchards. The activity is supported by the Princes Trust and Waitrose and will allow the Society to access research support to investigate the management practices required to ensure that Shropshire sheep graze safely in orchards. The first session of the field lab will take place on the 19th June in Herefordshire. For more information on field labs and to book in to attend (attendance is free)  please go to the Soil Association website  http://bit.ly/HkVmHe

 


 

New On-line Registration System


Members are now able to register and transfer their stock on - line via a new website : www.ssbaregistrations.co.uk. Alison, who is an IT specialist, has written the program and developed the website herself. Members of the breed society are now welcome to try it out, although payments must still be made either by BACS transfer or by cheque.

Anyone who uses the website and sends fees to the SSBA by BACS is asked to send a clear reference with the internet banking payment so that the Treasurer can tell what the payment is for, or to send her an email explaining the same.

The website will eventually allow birth notifications to be completed on-line as well. Paper registrations will, however, remain an option for breeders.


Shropshire Sheep on 'Countryfile'

Several people have asked where they can view the Countryfile Episode that featured Shropshires. It's no longer on the BBC iPlayer, but someone has loaded it onto YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqz5KHrGlAQ


 

Shropshire Sheep Breeders Association

Annual General Meeting 2013

Saturday 9th November 2013

Society Members will have invitations sent out in October 2013

 


 

Melton Mowbray 13th & 14th September 2013 - Results

Category First Prize Second Prize Third Prize
Shearling Ram R Webb A Oliver M Carus
Ram Lamb M &S Shimwell A & M Webb  
Shearling Ewe A & M Webb M Carus M Carus
Ewe Lamb A Oliver M & S Shimwell M & S Shimwell
Trophy Winner(s)
Champion A Oliver (Ewe Lamb)
Reserve Champion M & S Shimwell (Ewe Lamb)

Sale Pricing

 

Top Price

(Gns)

No. Sold

Average Price

Pounds

Ram Lambs
210
221
Adult Ewes
145
 
91
Shearling Ewes
200
171
Ewe Lambs
200
135

Shropshire numbers had increased from the previous year at the 2013 “East” Show and Sale at Melton Mowbray for both the show and the sale. The late replacement judge, Les Newman chose the ewe lamb from Alan Oliver’s Sprotborough flock as Champion with the second placed ewe lamb from Mark and Sue Shimwell’s Brereton flock as Reserve. Other first prize winners were the shearling ram from Robert Webb’s Clipston flock, a ram lamb from Mark and Sue Shimwell and a shearling ewe from Aubrey and Marion Webb’s Ushers flock.

At Saturday’s sale, there was interest for females with 25 of the 27 sheep put forward being sold whereas only one of the 8 males put forward were sold. For members lambing in January, this market is a shade too late. The show champion did not meet her reserve with the second place ewe lamb selling for 200 guineas to new member Paul Day who also took home the shearling ewe champion for the same price. A dispersal of the ewes from the Haunchwood flock for J&JN Brindley saw all ewes cleared. The champion ram lamb from Mark and Sue Shimwell was the only male sold for the top price of the Shropshires at the sale of 210 guineas  but unfortunately there was little interest for the other males.

 

National Show & Sale (East) Melton Mowbray

Friday 13th & Saturday 14th September

36 Shearling & Ewe Lambs as well as 12 Rams & Ram Lambs

entered for sale

Details available from : www.grassroots.co.uk/melton.html

 

Shrewsbury 27th July 2013 - Results

Category First Prize Second Prize Third Prize
Adult Ram R T Davies & Co S Farquhar J H & P A Bowles
Shearling Ram Stonegrove Livestock L Bowles & M Bray R T Davies & Co
Ram Lamb M&S Shimwell J H & P A Bowles L Bowles & M Bray
Adult Ewe M & S Shimwell S Farquhar J H & P A Bowles
Shearling Ewe L Bowles & M Bray M & S Shimwell A Oliver
Ewe Lamb L Bolwes & M Bray J Hares J Hares
Trophy Winner(s)
Champion Stonegrove Livestock (Shearling Ram)
Best Opposite Sex to the Champion L Bowles & M Bray (Ewe Lamb)
Best Prepared Pen of two or more J Hares

Sale Pricing

 

Top Price

(Gns)

No. Sold

Average Price

Pounds

Adult Rams
480
2
493
Shearling Rams
650
7
357
Ram Lambs
820
9
412
Adult Ewes
180
10
150
Shearling Ewes
290
40
190
Ewe Lambs
440
14
236

 

Shrop Champion 2013 Shrop Res Champ 2013
National Show & Sale West - Champion Stonegrove Livestock (Shearling Ram)

National Show & Sale West - Reserve Champion

L Bowles & M Bray (Ewe lamb)

Halls Small Flock Cup - Brereton Flock
'Southworth Shield' Best prepared pen of 2 or more sheep Millenheath Flock

 

Date: 19th April 2013

National Show & Sale (West) Shrewsbury

Saturday 27th July

Closing date for entries :27th June

Schedules available from : www.hallsgb.com & below

National Show & Sale (East) Melton Mowbray

Friday 13th & Saturday 14th September

Closing date for entries :26th July (Paper) 2th August (on-line)

Shedules available from : www.grassroots.co.uk/melton.html

 

PLANS are well underway for our two National Shows and Sales of Shropshires, taking place in July and September. Both are excellent opportunities to buy and sell good quality stock, and are well attended by Shropshire breeders from around the UK. The Western Show and Sale will take place at Shrewsbury livestock market on 27th July. The event is nearly a month later than in
previous years in order to encourage more breeders to sell their stock at the venue.

The organisers, Halls, have expanded the event to include an auction of vintage farm machinery
and smallholders' equipment, plus a Farmers' Market. There will also be a hog roast at the
market the night before the sale, which proved very popular last year.

"In 2012 we had a record number of Shropshire sheep entered. Our sale was the largest for the breed anywhere in the country," says Matt Williams of Halls. "We hope to repeat this success, while building entries of other breeds of native and rare sheep, cattle and pigs."

All Shropshires entered in the sale will be inspected by an independent sheep inspector, recommended by Halls and endorsed by the SSBA's Council. Schedules for the Show and Sale will be available from Halls (01743 462620) by the end of March.

Members are reminded to check the schedules carefully to ensure their entries comply with the special regulations set for Shropshire sheep.

The Eastern Show and Sale will take place on 14th and 15th September at Melton Mowbray livestock market. Now in its 11th year, this event attracts a large number of different breeds, and the SSBA is just one of a number of sheep societies holding showing classes. These take place on Friday 13th September (2pm for Shropshires). The sheep sale starts at 12 noon the following day.

UPSET PRICES


THE SSBA's Council has agreed the following (minimum) upset prices for sheep sold through both the society's National Shows and Sales in 2013:


Shearling Rams: 200gns
Older Rams: At the vendor's discretion
Ram Lambs: 140gns
Shearling Ewes: 150gns
Older Breeding Ewes: At the vendor's discretion
Ewe Lambs: 100gns


Vendors may set higher reserve prices for their animals if they wish. Halls reserve the right to charge the full commission on the reserve price for any animals not sold. This is to ensure that realistic reserve prices are set.

National Show & Sale - West - Downloadable details -


 

Date: 15th February 2013

BRITAIN'S OLDEST PEDIGREE SHEEP BREED

NO LONGER UNDER THREAT OF EXTINCTION

Shropshire sheep are no longer considered rare in the UK and the breed has been officially removed from the Rare Breed Survival Trust's Watchlist, it was announced yesterday (14th Feb) at a briefing in London attended by HRH The Prince of Wales and many other supporters of native farm animals.

The renewed popularity of the Shropshire, this country's oldest pedigree breed, was a highlight of the RBST's 40th Anniversary celebrations at the prestigious headquarters of The Royal Society. The event marked the Trust's success in rescuing native breeds of farm livestock from extinction. Many of the nation's old breeds were lost forever in the first half of the 20th Century, but since the RBST was formed in 1973, all existing British farm animals have been preserved.

Shropshire Sheep are, however, one of only a very few endangered breeds that have managed to regain mainstream livestock status. The breeding population of registered Shropshire ewes in the UK has increased from fewer than 500 in the early '70s to over 3,000 in 2012, with further increases expected when the latest flock returns are fully processed.

Speaking at the event, HRH The Prince of Wales praised the dedication of members of the RBST and rare breed enthusiasts in Britain who have kept our important livestock heritage alive. He emphasised that native breeds are not just an attractive reminder of a bygone era, but an important genetic resource that could hold the key to more sustainable agricultural production. The Prince was interested to learn that Shropshire sheep have a unique ability to graze in plantations without damaging trees, and may consider establishing a flock himself for this reason.

"The Shropshire has often been described as a breed that didn't deserve to become rare," commented Liz Bowles, the President of the Shropshire Sheep Breeders' Association. "Shropshires are hardy, prolific and produce excellent butchers' lambs from low inputs - traits that are important to today's commercial sheep producer. Over the past two decades, our breed society has worked hard to promote the Shropshire and ensure that it continues to perform well as a terminal sire, producing the type of lamb carcase required by retailers."

Liz singled out three additional factors that have helped to bring about a reversal in the fortunes of Shropshire sheep: Firstly, the unique ability of the breed to graze safely in conifer plantations without damaging the trees has led to the breed becoming very popular with Christmas tree growers, both in this country and across Europe. Fruit growers are also beginning to use Shropshires in their orchards, although this is an emerging market for the sheep in the UK. With increasing fuel prices affecting the cost of mowing, and greater restrictions on the use of agrochemicals, tree growers are becoming ever more interested in alternative, environmentally friendly methods for weed and herbage control in their plantations.

Secondly, the energy and commitment of the Breed Society has enabled better links to be formed with Shropshire sheep breeders across the globe, resulting in increased interest in UK-bred animals. High value exports of breeding stock and Shropshire ram semen have been made recently to Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and the USA.

Thirdly, the increased interest in all types of rare and native livestock breeds in the UK.  Based on enquiries received by the SSBA it would appear that a considerable number of new entrants who have come into farming over the past decade are particularly interested in the old breeds, as well as other established farmers looking for livestock breeds that do well in lower input, sustainable farming systems.

"The RBST has played a significant role in assisting the Shropshire breed to move forward, from its very first steps back from the brink in the 1970s to a current research project which is underway to establish the breed's DNA profile as a means of protecting its role within agroforestry," added Liz. "The RBST is supporting this project with funding and has also helped to direct the Society to the most expert assistance in this field from the Roslin Institute. The SSBA is very grateful for all the support the Trust has provided over the years, which has undoubtedly contributed to the Shropshire's rehabilitation as a mainstream traditional breed."

For further information, contact Liz Bowles, President of the Shropshire Sheep Breeders' Association Tel: 01884 32983, Mobile: 07834 337345 and email: Liz.Bowles@mail.com or Simon Mackay, Secretary of the Shropshire Sheep Breeders' Association Tel: 01744 811124 and email: shropshire_sheep@hotmail.com.

 

Shropshire Sheep (www.shropshire-sheep.co.uk)
The Shropshire first emerged in the mid-1800s, when farmers in the West Midlands improved the hardy native heath and hill sheep of the region. The resulting "Shropshire Down" became the supreme dual purpose breed of the 19th and early 20th Centuries, producing excellent meat and high quality wool. 
The Shropshire Sheep Breeders' Association has the distinction of being the oldest breed society in the UK, established in 1882. Shropshires are thus the oldest breed of British farm livestock to have officially recorded pedigrees.

Steps to regaining mainstream traditional breed status
1973 (formation of the RBST) - Shropshire ewe populations recorded within the CRITICAL category of population size (200 - 500 ewes) in 1974
1984 Shropshires move to the endangered (vulnerable) category on the RBST's Watchlist
1991 Shropshires move to category 4 "At Risk" on the Watchlist
2005 Shropshires move from "At Risk" (category 4) to Minority Breed (category 5) on the Watchlist
2013 Shropshires move from "Minority Breed" to "Other Native Breeds" on the Watchlist.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (www.rbst.org.uk) is the leading national charity working to conserve and protect the UK's rare native breeds of farm animals from extinction. The RBST's Watchlist is produced annually to highlight any changes in population trends for native British livestock breeds that are considered to be endangered.

Above left: A group of Shropshire ewes and a ram pictured on the Sansaw Estate, near Hadnall, Shropshire. Above right: A Shropshire ram's head.


Devon farmer elected President of theShropshire

Sheep Breeders' Association

Liz Bowles from Cullompton in Devon has been appointed to head up the Shropshire Sheep Breeders' Association, the oldest sheep breed Society in the UK, for the next two years.. Liz has a long association with Shropshires stretching back to 1976, when she first started helping parents, John and Pauline Bowles, with their well-known Sidedowns Flock.

Liz's background is steeped in agriculture. Following completion of an Animal Sciences degree at Wye College in the early 1980s, she worked as a volunteer training "barefoot vets" and agricultural extension workers in Zambia. On her return to the UK, Liz joined ADAS (the government's farm advisory service) where she worked for 20 years in a range of roles including livestock husbandry and business management. In 2004, her interest in farmer co-operation led her to join the English Farming and Food Partnership where she managed the South West region for eight years, supporting the development of enhanced supply chain collaboration.

When Liz and her husband, Mike Bray, bought their farm in Butterleigh, near Cullompton in 1997, Liz's ambition was to set up her own flock of Shropshires. This started in a very small way with "oldies but goldies" from the Sidedowns Flock. From this foundation, Liz and Mike have built up their Hayne Oak flock, which today numbers 140 Signet recorded breeding females.

The flock is managed very commercially including breeding from well-grown ewe lambs. The majority of finished lambs are marketed through Randall Parker Foods and appear on the butchers' counters at Sainsbury's supermarkets. Breeding animals are sold through a range of pedigree sales and privately. Hayne Oak Shropshires have also been exported to France, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Jersey.

Commenting on her election as SSBA President , Liz said "I am delighted to be taking over the Presidency of the breed society at this stage in the organisation's development: The breed is now much more popular and is expected to soon move out of the 'rare breeds' category."

During her term in office, Liz plans to prioritise working with commercial finished lamb producers to bring the benefits of Shropshires as terminal sires to their attention. "We have been breeding Shropshires for growth and performance traits now for the last five years with the help of Signet, and there is no doubt that growth rate and muscling are improving. This, together with the breed's hardiness and longevity makes Shropshires an attractive prospect for commercial sheep producers", she adds.

SSBA

 


 

Shrewsbury 30th June 2012 - Results

Category First Prize Second Prize Third Prize
Adult Ram S Farquhar R T Davies & Co J Thompson
Shearling Ram J Hares L Bowles & M Bray Stonegrove Livestock
Ram Lamb A & M Webb Stonegrove Livestock J Thompson
Adult Ewe R Webb    
Shearling Ewe J & P Bowles S Farquhar J Ballard
Ewe Lamb P Geddes L Bowles & M Bray M & S Shimwell
Trophy Winner(s)
Champion J Hares (Shearling Ram)
Best Opposite Sex to the Champion P Geddes (Ewe Lamb)
Best Prepared Pen of two or more J & P Bowles
Reserve Interbreed Champion J Hares

Sale Pricing

 

Top Price

(Gns)

No. Sold

Average Price

Pounds

Adult Rams
500
2
446
Shearling Rams
520
5
470
Ram Lambs
440
9
259
Adult Ewes
200
5
185
Shearling Ewes
250
25
200
Ewe Lambs
430
32
161


RECORD ENTRY OF SHROPSHIRES FOR TRADITIONAL AND NATIVE BREEDS AUCTION

June 14, 2012

A record 95 Shropshire sheep have been entered in the annual auction of traditional, native and rare breeds of sheep, cattle and pigs at Shrewsbury Auction Centre.

The auction, to be held on Saturday, June 30, incorporates the Shropshire Sheep Breeders Association's Western Show and Sale, which returned to Shropshire in 2010 after an absence of many years.

"Not only has the entry increased on last year, but it is without a doubt the largest sale of Shropshires taking place anywhere in the UK this year," said Pippa Geddes, Shropshire Sheep Breeders' Association's president, who farms at Alderton, near Montford Bridge, near Shrewsbury.

We have a total of 66 Shropshire females entered and 29 rams and ram lambs. Being early in the summer, the sale is an ideal opportunity for Shropshire breeders to buy new tups for the 2012 breeding season.

Lots of Shropshire flocks lamb early and so breeders are looking for new rams or ram lambs in June and July. With the growing popularity of the Shropshire breed, we are hoping that the sale will attract buyers from all over the UK.

Auctioneers Halls have donated a new trophy for the highest priced Shropshire from a small flock - up to 25 ewes - sold through the auction ring.

Good entries have also been received for the cattle, pigs and sheep sections from breeders across the country. Showing classes for all the livestock will be held before the auction commences and the interbreed winners will receive trophies donated by Lloyds TSB and Osmonds animal health products.

Matt Williams, who is co-ordinating the auction for Halls, said cattle entries include Beef Shorthorn, Dexter, Longhorn, Red Poll, Gloucester and Highland breeds.

Other sheep entries include Castlemilk Moorit, Greyface Dartmoor, Hebridean, Jacob, Kerry Hill, Shetland, Whitefaced Woodland and Wiltshire Horn.

Consigned to the pigs section are Gloucester Old Spot, British Saddleback and Middle White breeds.

The auction includes both accredited and non-accredited sections. In addition to the livestock, there will be a selection of trade stands.

Halls are holding a hog roast at Shrewsbury Auction Centre the night before the show and sale, which will allow exhibitors to meet potential buyers. Tickets cost £5.00 per person and are available via Halls.

Ends

For more information please call Matt Williams at Shrewsbury Auction Centre on Tel: 01743 462620 or Duncan Foulkes, public relations consultant, on 01686 650818.


 

IT'S NATIONAL SHOW & SALE TIME

National Show & Sale (West) Shrewsbury

Saturday 30th June

Closing date for entries :27th May

Schedules available from : www.hallsgb.com

National Show & Sale (East) Melton Mowbray

Friday 7th & Saturday 8th September

Closing date for entries :27th July (Paper) 5th August (on-line)

Shedules available from : www.grassroots.co.uk/melton.html

THE Breed Society's two National Shows and Sales are annual highlights for Shropshire breeders. The events take place at Shrewsbury and Melton Mowbray livestock markets. Both are good
opportunities to sell and purchase high quality sheep that meet the breed standards, as well as a great chance to meet fellow breed enthusiasts.


If you are considering buying or selling stock at these events, please be aware of the following :

Restriction On Entries Per Flock
Each flock can enter up to two males and 15 females at each show and sale. Numbers are
limited to ensure that only good quality stock is offered for sale. All females must be fully
registered with the SSBA before the sale, and males must be birth notified and eligible for
registration.

Minimum Weights For Lambs
Ram lambs and ewe lambs entered at Shrewsbury must weigh at least 45 and 35kg, respectively. The weights for lambs entered at Melton are slightly higher, as the sale takes
place later in the year: 50kg for ram lambs and 40kg for ewe lambs. Lambs will be weighed
on arrival and must meet the minimum weights in order to be offered for sale.

Upset Prices
The minimum upset prices for both show and sale venues are as follows:
Ewe lambs: 100gns
Shearling ewes 150gns
Ram lambs: 140gns
Shearling rams: 200gns
Older ewes and rams: at vendors' discretion.
Vendors may set higher reserve prices for their animals if they wish. Halls, the auctioneers
at Shrewsbury, reserve the right to charge the full commission on the reserve price for
any animals not sold. This is to ensure that realistic reserve prices are set.

Transfer Fees And Registration Fees
The vendor selling a ram or ram lamb to a society member will be required to register the
animal with the SSBA. Transfer fees for all stock ( £3/animal) will be charged to buyers
and collected automatically by the auctioneers.

Transfer Fees And Registration Fees
The vendor selling a ram or ram lamb to a society member will be required to register the
animal with the SSBA. Transfer fees for all stock ( £3/animal) will be charged to buyers
and collected automatically by the auctioneers.

Breed Inspections
All animals will be inspected by a breed society inspector prior to the showing classes.
Inspection cards will be displayed on the pen fronts after inspections have taken place.

Showing Sheep
All males entered in the show and sale MUST be shown. For females, the show classes are
optional.

Show Classes
The following show classes are available at both S&S events. Ram classes may be
amalgamated if entries are insufficient to run two classes:
Senior Ram (2-shear and over);
Shearling Ram;
Ram Lamb (born on or after 1st Dec 2011);
Breeding Ewe (to have reared a lamb or lambs in 2012, shorn bare on or after 1st May 2012);
Shearling Ewe;
Ewe Lamb (born on or after 1st Dec 2011).

Inspections By Trading Standards
Please be aware that the SSBA has been advised that Trading Standards' officials are
very likely to inspect ear tags of animals entered in the sales, so please ensure that all
animals entered are tagged correctly according to DEFRA's requirements. Movement licences
and transport authorisations are also likely to be checked.

 


EBLEX BRP Improved Flock Awards 2012

Worcestershire sheep flock wins top award for genetic progress

The Shropshire sheep breed winner of the EBLEX Improved Flock Awards for 2012 is the Westwood Flock, run by Clive Davies who farms near Kidderminster in Worcestershire.

Organised through the Sheep Better Returns Programme, this award is presented to the performance recorded flock that has shown the most impressive improvement in genetic merit over a 12-month period, within the breed.

Clive Davies is the third generation to farm at Westwood. First rented by his grandfather in 1939, the now 40 hectare (100 acre) farm is mainly permanent pasture and particularly suited to traditional breeds run on low input systems.

Along with the Westwood Hereford Herd of 35 breeding cows, which the family have bred since 1945, Mr Davies established the pedigree Westwood Shropshire Flock four years ago with 25 ewes.

Managing the farm mainly on his own, with the help of son Tom and freelance shepherd Will Price, the Shropshires were chosen as they are thrifty and easy to manage on a grass-based system. They are also a traditional local breed with a good heritage.

Although not currently commercially popular, Mr Davies wishes to prove that the Shropshire breed can produce good returns for commercial producers. He is using performance recording and Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) to determine and develop the practical attributes of the sheep.

Genetic progress
The flock continues to establish itself, but Mr Davies is encouraged by the progress made so far on some of the bloodlines. While the number of breeding females is maintained at around 25, high quality rams are still bought in to introduce new genetics.

Up to three rams are used at tupping, with the ewes separated into three single-sire mating groups to make comparisons between them.

The 2011 crop of lambs were sired by Trenton Woodman, Stoke Gean and Westwood Archer who was a top prize winning ram at the Society's July 2011 Sale when sold. Woodman was selected for his exceptional fleshing qualities and has made a real impact on the flock.

All progeny is performance recorded. He feels that the data collected by Signet provides simple and believable information that helps him select animals for breeding and for sale. Two or three ram lambs are retained; used as shearlings to test their performance on the Westwood flock, and then offered for sale the following year.

Lambing takes place during March and April, while the cattle are calving. The sheep are housed for as little time as possible and complications are rare. Ewes and lambs are turned out within a couple of days of lambing.

The flock is run on an all-grass system with very little supplementation. Lambs are weaned at 12 weeks and scanned at 21 weeks to provide data on which to select a shortlist of six rams to keep. A final selection is made just before Christmas. All ewe lambs born in 2011 were kept - the first year they all made the grade in terms of the flock's breeding goals.

Retained animals have to be able to care for themselves, have good feet and legs and not be expensive to keep. As one of the main drivers for profit is production, prolificacy and lambing ease are vital. The Westwood ewes have a lambing percentage of about 170%.

Commercial buyers are also looking for animals that produce a high quality, saleable carcase with low inputs. Lambs not kept for breeding are finished and sold through a farm shop near Shrewsbury - offering useful feedback on carcase quality.

Mr Davies attends local shows and fairs and sees these as a good way of promoting the breed and the flock. In 2011 he was awarded the Breed Championship at the Three Counties Show with Westwood Archer, who went on to win first prize at the Shropshire Breeders Sale.

"It is a great encouragement to receive the EBLEX award so soon after the flock has been started," says Mr Davies. "Two of the rams we used last year have undoubtedly helped us make the jump in the Signet figures."

Long term uplift from superior genetics
EBLEX sheep breeding specialist Samuel Boon believes that one of the major benefits of improving the genetics of any flock is the cumulative and permanent way it lifts performance.

"The time and effort involved will pay dividends for years, not just in the winning flock, but also in the flocks that buy rams from them," he says.

"With lamb prices at an all-time high, the difference between choosing the right recorded ram for the farm, or an animal of average breeding merit, could be worth £1,000 or more. So there has never been a better time to invest in superior genetics.

Clive's family recognised the value of doing this quite a few years ago with the cattle, and he has used the same principle with the sheep.

Meticulous breeding stock selection has produced impressive results for this year and contributed to the win. Congratulations to Clive and his team."

For more information contact: Samuel Boon
Tel: 024 7647 8829,
Mobile: 07887 650355
Email: samuel.boon@eblex.ahdb.org.uk

Visit www.eblex.org.uk for more information

 


SHOW AND SALE DECLARED A SUCCESS

The show and sale of traditional, native and rare breed sheep, cattle and pigs at Shrewsbury Auction Centre on 2nd July was declared a big success after attracting a record entry.

Auctioneers Halls reported an entry of 165 sheep, 57 cattle and 22 pigs from across the country. The event also incorporated the Shropshire Sheep Breeders Associations Western Show and Sale, in which breed record auction prices were set for a senior ram, shearling ram and ram lamb, as well as breeding ewe, shearling ewe and ewe lamb.

The pre-sale show of Shropshire sheep was judged by Cody Hiemke from Wisconsin, USA, as the senior judge, Fred Groverman, was unable to get to the market in time because his flight from California was delayed by over 24 hours.

Overall Shropshire champion was Hayne Oak Lucas, a shearling ram bred by Liz Bowles and Mike Bray of Cullompton, Devon. A ewe lamb bred by Mark and Sue Shimwell of Congleton, Cheshire was the reserve champion.

In the sale, a breed record auction price was achieved for a Shropshire ram by shearling Morley Malik, bred by Clare Jakeman of Thornton Le Moors, Chester, which sold for 800 guineas to Richard Spencer of Ashbourne, Derbyshire.

Another record price of 750 guineas was achieved by local breeders Peter and Pippa Geddes of Montford Bridge for their ram lamb, Alderton Bob. Both these animals were performance recorded by Signet and had high genetic merit.

A senior ram from the Westwood Flock of Clive Davies from Tenbury, Worcestershire sold for 420 guineas which was another breed record.

In the sale of females, there was 100 per cent clearance and three more breed record prices were set. A shearling ewe from the Hayne Oak flock, Devon sold for 420 guineas, a breeding ewe from the Ushers Flock, Leicestershire sold for 360 guineas and the reserve champion ewe lamb sold for 360 guineas.

ImageAdult rams sold to a top 420gns and average of £268, shearling rams peaked at 800gns and averaged £369, ram lambs peaked at 750gns and averaged £457, adult ewes peaked at 360gns and averaged £256, shearling ewes peaked at 420gns and averaged £234 and ewe lambs peaked at 360gns and averaged £213. The overall average of the 67 sheep sold was £263.

Sponsors of the traditional and native breed sheep, cattle and pigs show were Halls, Osmonds, Lloyds TSB, Shropshire Sheep Breeders Association: Mrs C. Jakeman, Mr J. B. Hodson, Miss A. Harvey and Blue Merle Animal Health.

Liz Bowles winner of the Shropshire Sheep Breeders Association’s Western Show and Sale overall champion’s trophy, with her shearling ram and (from left) American judges Cody Hiemke and Fred Groverman, sheep section judges Sandra Thompson and Gerald Hayes and Matt Williams from Halls.

Shrewsbury 2nd July 2011 - Results

Category First Prize Second Prize Third Prize
Adult Ram R T Davies & Co A Clay RB & B Higgins
Shearling Ram L Bowles & M Bray J & P Bowles E Butcher
Ram Lamb J & P Bowles P Geddes A & M Webb
Adult Ewe A & M Webb S Farquhar R Webb
Shearling Ewe L Bowles & M Bray L Bowles & M Bray A & M Webb
Ewe Lamb M & S Shimwell P & P Geddes P & P Geddes
Trophy Winner(s)
Champion L Bowles & M Bray (Shearling Ram)
Best Opposite Sex to the Champion M & S Shimwell (Ewe Lamb)
Best Prepared Pen of two or more A Clay
Reserve Interbreed Champion L Bowles & M Bray

Sale Pricing

 

Top Price

(Gns)

No. Sold

Average Price

Pounds

Adult Rams
420
4
268
Shearling Rams
800
7
369
Ram Lambs
750
4
457
Adult Ewes
360
10
256
Shearling Ewes
420
27
234
Ewe Lambs
360
15
213


 

Information from the EBLEX Better Returns prorgamme - March 2011

EBLEX image
A group of Sansaw rams last autumn.

Improved Flock Awards 2011
James Thompson Sansaw Shropshire Flock

Sansaw Shropshire Flock wins top award

The winner of the EBLEX Improved Flock Awards for the Shropshire breed for 2011 is the Sansaw Flock, owned by James Thompson of Sansaw Farms near Shrewsbury in Shropshire.

Organised through the Sheep Better Returns Programme (BRP), this award is presented to the performance recorded flock that has shown the most impressive improvement in genetic merit over a 12-month period, within the breed. The competition is based on the results of Signet records for 17 Shropshire flocks.

Shropshire sheep have been bred at Sansaw since at least 1882, although the current flock was only established in 2007, when it was re-stocked mainly from the reduction sale of the Sidedowns flock in Devon.

The farm, which runs to 408ha, is managed organically and has pig, potato and carrot enterprises, and a small Hereford suckler herd, as well as the flock of 150 pedigree Shropshire ewes.

Mr Thompson remained loyal to the local breed due not only to the historic links, but also because he believes carcasses from Shropshire sired lambs can meet butchers' requirements just as well as those sired by continental terminal sires. Not only that, native breeds can finish off grass without the need for expensive supplementary feeding.

Ewes are tupped in September to lamb from 1 February indoors, and are turned out as soon as the weather allows. Lambs are weighed at eight weeks, and those not already marketed, are back fat scanned at 20 weeks.

Most of the ram lambs not retained for breeding are sold to the trade over the summer, with a quarter carried through as stores. Now that ewe numbers are at the desired level, 20% of the best ewes will be kept, and the rest sold via pedigree sales in summer. Any not making the grade for breeding will be sold for slaughter.

The flock has been recording for just a year and rams have been selected on the basis of their Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) alongside a visual appraisal of their conformation.

"Recording gives credibility to the job we do and provides evidence to back up what we see in the field, such as the fact that the lambs grow well off grass," explains
Mr Thompson. "We also use EBVs when selecting ewes to keep to see how their lambs have performed, and consider the EBVS of all potential breeding rams.

"Our aim is to produce quality rams for commercial producers to use in their flocks, and to create demand for this traditional yet versatile breed."

Commenting on winning the award, Mr Thompson admits he is a bit surprised as he did not expect to make such progress so quickly. He puts the success down to buying in good stock and selecting the right progeny to keep.

Satisfied customer
Mark Dibble runs a commercial ewe flock on a neighbouring farm to Mr Thompson on the Allbrighton Estate. He uses Texel, Suffolk and Shropshire rams to produce crossbred lambs to supply the farm shop. The ewes lamb indoors and the lambs are weaned in August.

"The Shropshire sired lambs perform just as well as the lambs sired by other breeds and take a similar time to finish off grass," says Mr Dibble. "It is also good to have Shropshire lambs available in the shop, as they promote the fact we are supporting a locally sourced native breed."

Recording performance is vital
"This is the fifth year Sheep BRP has made these awards," says EBLEX sheep breeding specialist Samuel Boon. "The progress made since then has been significant, and many more producers - pedigree and commercial, are using tools like EBVs to help make their breeding decisions. This in turn is making their businesses more profitable and the industry more competitive as a whole."

"James is to be congratulated for his commitment to improving the Shropshire breed in such a short time. Performance recording now forms the backbone to his success, and he and his customers benefit from this more informed approach to breeding."

For more information contact: Samuel Boon
Tel: 024 7647 8829,
Mobile: 07887 650355
Email:

Issued by: Sara Gregson
Tel: 01799 530934
Mobile: 07768 764062
Email:

Notes to editors
The Sheep Better Returns Programme (Sheep BRP) is funded by EBLEX and aims to help English sheep producers get better returns from their enterprises by improving their skills in five key areas:

  • Better Breeding
  • Better Lamb Selection
  • Better Feeding and Forage
  • Better Fertility and Health
  • Better Systems and Costing

Visit www.eblex.org.uk for more information

  • EBLEX is a subsidiary of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). It acts to help the English beef and lamb industry boost its competitiveness and promote its products. Its aims are: to encourage better returns for the English beef and lamb industry, to stimulate a profitable demand for quality beef and lamb, and to champion the development of a sustainable industry through improved profitability.
  • For further information please contact the EBLEX Press Office on 024 7647 8835.

 NEW PRESIDENT for the Shropshire Sheep Breeders Association- November 2010

Pippa Geddes from Alderton, near Montford Bridge is the new President of the Shropshire Sheep Breeders’ Association (SSBA). She is the first President of the Society for nearly 40 years to actually reside in the breeds home county. The previous Shropshire-based President was Mr S B Whittles from Upton Magna, who led the SSBA from 1971 to 1972.

Pippa and her husband, Peter, farm near Montford Bridge, where they run the Alderton Flock of 50 pedigree Shropshire  ewes and a pedigree beef suckler herd of 18 Red Ruby Devon cows plus followers. The beef herd is managed in partnership with a neighbouring farmer.

The Geddese’s sheep flock was established in 1999, when there were surprisingly few flocks of Shropshires in the county. Since then, the popularity of Shropshire sheep has grown considerably throughout the UK due to a resurgence of interest in native British livestock breeds. Shropshires are also in demand because of their unique ability to graze in conifer plantations and orchards without damaging the trees.

Pippa has a degree in agriculture from Wye College (London University). She worked for the Milk Marketing Board and then moved into agricultural journalism, writing for two national farming magazines. In 1990, she won the Guild of Agricultural Journalists annual prize for the best livestock writer. Moving to Shropshire to work for a large agricultural PR agency in 1991, she has been a marketing consultant for many well-known national companies in the farming sector. However, in 2003, Pippa scaled back her full-time PR work to devote more time to the farm and also to use her marketing skills to help promote Shropshire sheep.

Pippa has a very good understanding of all the breed societys activities because she held the post of Secretary of the SSBA for four years from 2003 to 2007. She is also currently the co-ordinator of the Shropshire Breed Improvement Scheme, which encourages Shropshire flocks to record the performance of their sheep with Signet Breeding Services.

Looking ahead to her two-year term as the SSBA’s President, Pippa says:“This is a very exciting time for the Shropshire sheep. We had a record number of 40 new flocks formed this year and most breeders had sold out of stock well before the end of the summer. New markets, such as orchard grazing, are just beginning to open up for our breed of sheep. The Shropshire also produces high quality lamb, so the breed society is in a strong position to ensure that Shropshire sheep thrive in the years ahead“.


2010 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING - November 2010

THE SSBA will hold its Annual General Meeting on 13th November at Sandwell Park Farm, West Bromwich, West Midlands B71 4BG.

The venue is a restored Victorian farm with many interesting breeds of livestock, including a flock of Shropshire’s. The farm is not far from Junction 1 of the M5 motorway. 

The AGM is open to all society members.

The meeting is a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and to make some new contacts, including our new secretary (see above) and our two Irish co-ordinators, Jean Jones and Pat Delaney.
 
The formal business of the breed society takes place in the morning, and will be followed by some interesting presentations: This year we will have a talk from Richard Lutwyche, who many members will know from the
Traditional Breeds Meat Marketing Scheme. Richard has been asked to present some ideas about how we can promote the excellent meat of Shropshire’s to farmers and butchers more effectively.

We also hope to have a presentation from Novartis Animal Health about their products, including the first new sheep wormer available to farmers for several decades.


September 2010: New Society Secretary

The new Shropshire Sheep Breeders Society is Mr Simon Mackay (email: )
146 Chandlers Way, Sutton Manor, St.Helens. Merseyside. WA9 4TG Tel: 0044 1744 811124


NEW SHOW AND SALE VENUE FOR SHROPSHIRES

THE SSBA’s Council has decided to introduce a new show and sale for Shropshire sheep at Shrewsbury Market, Shropshire on Saturday 3rd July 2010. This will be known as the SSBA’s National Show and Sale (West). The breed society will also continue to support the show and sale at Melton Mowbray Market, Leicestershire on 10th and 11th September, which will now be known as the SSBA’s National Show and Sale (East).
   In both cases, the show and sale of Shropshires will be part of a larger traditional and native breeds’ sale, incorporating entries from other breeds of sheep, as well as other farm livestock species. The sale at Shrewsbury is a new event which the organisers, Halls Auctioneers, have introduced to satisfy demand from livestock producers in the region.
   “The annual Show and Sale at Melton Mowbray has proved a good venue for selling Shropshire females, but it comes rather too late in the season for breeders who want to purchase rams for early lambing flocks,” explains the SSBA’s Sales Officer, Claire Jakeman.
   “By introducing a show and sale earlier in the year at a different, more westerly, venue we hope to be able to assist more members to buy and sell their sheep at the most convenient time.
   “Up until 1950, Shrewsbury market was the main sale venue for our breed. We are really thrilled that the growing popularity of our sheep has enabled us to introduce another show and sale date, and bring a sale of Shropshires back to the breed’s county of origin.”
   The facilities at Shrewsbury Market, which relocated to a new site just four years ago, were inspected by Claire Jakeman and Pippa Geddes, on behalf of the breed society. Not only does the site at Battlefield, just north of Shrewsbury, offer very modern livestock lairage, it’s also easily accessible from the road network without the need to drive through the town itself. The new Battlefield development also includes a Travel Lodge, offering reasonably priced accommodation for people wishing to stay overnight. Livestock can be delivered to the market the day before the show and sale.


Shropshire Sheep Society exports a record number of breeding animals

August 3rd, 2009
The Shropshire Sheep Breeders’ Association has completed two large export orders to France and Slovenia on behalf of its members. A total of 197 pedigree registered Shropshire females and six rams have been exported this year, breaking the breed society’s previous annual export record by some considerable margin.
The consignment to France comprised 45 shearling ewes, 51 ewe lambs and three rams. These were purchased by one buyer, Benoit Gille in Maizieres, Lorraine. M. Gille breeds Texels but says he requires a tougher meat sheep that doesn’t eat trees. He imported a smaller number of Shropshires from the UK last year.

The consignment of 101 females and 3 males to Slovenia, which left the UK on Tuesday 28th July and arrived at its destination two days later, has the distinction of being the first Shropshire sheep in that country. They were purchased by Branko Lazarevic from Maribor. The sheep will be used primarily as a meat producing flock, but will also graze grass between ground-based solar panels. Electricity generated by this enterprise is sold back to the Slovenian Government.

Mr Lazarevic visited the UK twice this year to view Shropshires on-farm and at the Cheshire County Show. He became interested in Shropshires after seeing them exhibited at the Paris Show a few years ago. He comments that he is very proud to be the first Slovenian to own a flock, and will be joining the Shropshire Sheep Breeders’ Association as an overseas member in due course.

Selecting the Shropshires for the export consignment was a mammoth task for the SSBA’s export officer, Sue Farquhar, and sales officer, Claire Jakeman. Sheep from twelve different flocks had to be inspected on-farm to ensure they met breed standards, before the animals were transported to an EU Approved Export Assembly Centre in Herefordshire. Sheep destined for Slovenia also had to be vaccinated by a vet against Blue Tongue, because they were moving from the UK into a BT Free Zone.  
“Keeping up with export regulations and informing our breed society members of the requirements, especially with BTV and Scrapie Monitoring, is very time-consuming.  We received excellent support from the new Central Export Department of Defra Carlisle,” comments the SSBA’s Claire Jakeman, who is based near Chester.

“We believe it’s worth the effort, especially as the British Shropshire is building a strong reputation overseas. The breed is now known both as an excellent meat producer and as a means of grazing tree plantations, allowing farmers and growers to control herbage in an environmentally friendly way and produce good quality lamb at the same time.”

For further information, please contact:
Pippa Geddes, Publicity Officer of the Shropshire Sheep Breeders’ Association
Stable Views, Alderton, Near Montford Bridge, Shropshire SY4 1AW
01743 741689
Email:


SHROPSHIRE SHEEP BREEDERS HELP INTERNATIONAL RUGBY STAR TO START HIS OWN FLOCK

Jason Robinson and Shropshire Sheep
Unloading the ewes. From left to right: Barry Hodson, Tricia Newman, Jemima and Cameron Robinson, Marion Webb, Pippa Geddes, Jason Robinson with Elijah and Joseph Robinson, Alison Schofield, Claire Jakeman, Richard Spencer and Les Newman. Click the image for a larger version.

A group of farmers from the Shropshire Sheep Breeders’ Association (SSBA) has helped international rugby star, Jason Robinson OBE, to start his own pedigree sheep flock. 

The unusual sponsorship offer was accepted by the sporting legend five months ago, but delivery of the sheep was delayed until Blue Tongue animal movement restrictions were lifted.  Ten pedigree Shropshire ewes and a ram lamb were finally delivered to Jason’s farm in Lancashire last weekend (Saturday 4th October). They are the first farm livestock to be owned by the sportsman, who retired from International Rugby after the world cup final last year.

The sheep were supplied by Peter and Pippa Geddes from Alderton, Montford Bridge, Shropshire; Barry Hodson from Croft, Cheshire; Graham and Claire Jakeman from Thornton-Le-Moors, Cheshire;  Les and Tricia Newman from Carleton Rode, Norfolk; Paul and Alison Schofield from Sproston Green, Cheshire; Richard and Rosemary Spencer from Alkmonton, Derbyshire and Aubrey and Marion Webb from Gilmorton, Leicestershire.

Jason Robinson with Shropshire Sheep, Lamb, Ewe, Ram
The group with ram lamb Morley Billy Whizz. The man on the left of the ram lamb is Claire's husband Graham

The Shropshire breeders decided to offer Jason a small flock of pedigree sheep after he announced his intention to take up farming at the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Awards in 2007. They were surprised and delighted when the offer was accepted, explains the breed society’s Publicity Officer, Pippa Geddes:

“We are all great fans of rugby and have enjoyed watching Jason playing both at club and international level. He has clocked up some amazing achievements in the sport, being only the second man in history to play rugby union for England, having first played rugby league for Great Britain and England.

 “When we heard that Jason and his family were going to start farming in the north west, we thought Shropshires would be the ideal breed because they are docile and easy to manage.   Shropshires are also very adaptable and do well in a range of different conditions. We didn’t know the Robinsons’ address, so we wrote to Jason’s club – Sale Sharks – and asked that they forward the letter. A few weeks later, I had a surprise phone call from the man himself! He must receive a lot of sponsorship offers, but he was genuinely delighted by the idea of receiving a small flock of Shropshire sheep.

“All the breeders concerned in the project travelled to the Robinsons’ farm to deliver the sheep personally. We were made to feel very welcome by Jason and his large family, who were excited about their new livestock venture. We hope they enjoy their flock and remain members of the breed society for many years to come.”


SHROPSHIRE SHEEP BREEDERS EMBARK UPON BREED IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME
2006
THE Shropshire Sheep Breeders’ Association has launched a breed improvement programme, using the services of Signet and Innovis in Britain, and AI Services in Northern Ireland. The new scheme will identify superior animals within the breed and help SSBA members to improve the maternal, health and terminal sire traits of their sheep.

2007 is the first year of the programme and already there are eight Shropshire flock-owners involved with a total of 240 ewes and their progeny now being performance recorded.

The improvement programme requires participating breeders to record lamb weights at birth, eight weeks old and at the age when they are ultrasonically scanned for carcase traits. Information on ewe performance is also recorded. These data are then used to calculate Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) by Signet using a BLUP (Best Linear Unbiased Prediction) program.  Six different EBVs will be calculated: Eight Week Weight; Maternal Ability; Litter Size; Scan Weight; Muscle Depth and Fat Depth, as well as an overall selection index.

“In the 1980s, some members of the Shropshire breed society were involved in performance recording with the Meat and Livestock Commission, and Shropshires achieved some very high scores for muscle depth,” said the Shropshire Breed Improvement Coordinator, Liz Bowles. “Commercial sheep breeders were, however, less interested in such information at that time than they are now, and Shropshire breeders questioned the value of continuing to record performance in this way.

“The climate for sheep production in the UK is now very different with an imperative to produce sheep meat both sustainably and profitably.  Producers are consequently looking for ‘easy-care’ animals to reduce labour costs as well as for efficient, productive sheep.

“Members of this breed society believe the Shropshire will measure up very favourably to these requirements and therefore decided we should initiate a breeding programme that would allow us to identify superior animals and to improve upon current performance levels in the areas required.

“It is intended to look at all information produced to identify superior Shropshires and make the best use of those genetics to allow the breed to play its part in maintaining a sustainable sheep industry in the future.

The flocks participating in the SSBA’s Breed Improvement Scheme are the Alderton Flock of P & P Geddes in Shropshire; the Brereton Flock of M & S Shimwell in Cheshire; the Brookmount Flock of C Cleland in Co. Down; the Broomcroft Flock of C & C Taylor in Shropshire; the Greenrigg Flock of J & K Mills in Cumbria; the Hayne Oak Flock of E Bowles & M Bray in Devon; the Sperrinview Flock of A & J Jones in Co. Antrim and the Ushers Flock of A & M Webb in Leicestershire.


WORLD CONGRESS WEBSITE
June 2007
This year’s 125th Anniversary World Congress, which took place in June, was a great success. The finale at the Three Counties Show was a very memorable event, particularly as HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, visited the Shropshire ring during the sheep judging.


NEW BEGINNINGS FOR SHROPSHIRE SHEEP ON JERSEY

A consignment of 25 pedigree Shropshire sheep from the Devonshire-based flock of Liz Bowles and Mike Bray was exported to Jersey this week (30th October). The sheep, which have organic status, will be the first Shropshires on the Channel Islands. They are also amongst the first farm animals to arrive on Jersey since the ban on live exports was lifted last year.

The Shropshires have been sold to an organic farm run by John Hamon at St Brelade. John chose Shropshires sheep because he also has an organic farm shop and was looking for a traditional breed to provide unique tasting lamb for his customers. He believes Shropshires will meet his requirements because they produce excellent quality carcasses whilst being relatively easy-care sheep. As a traditional breed, Shropshires also qualify for the additional payments, available through Natural England, for livestock grazed on an SSSI or land adjoining SSSIs.

In order to meet the stringent export health requirements, the shipment of 9 ewe lambs, 15 in-lamb ewes and one ram had to test clear for Borders Disease and they were also quarantined for 30 days prior to travel. An additional requirement was that they came from a holding without cattle.

The Shropshire breeders, Liz Bowles and Mike Bray, farm at Butterleigh, near Cullompton. They formed their Shropshire flock in 1998 and have been farming organically since 1999.


SALE OF RARE FLOCK BOOKS TO RAISE FUNDS FOR SHROPSHIRE SHEEP
1st December 2005


Rare, well-preserved flock books dating from 1882 are to be sold this month on the internet auction site, Ebay, by the Shropshire Sheep Breeders’ Association. The breed society hopes the sale will raise funds for the promotion of Shropshire sheep, which are now considered a rare breed in the United Kingdom.

Many of the books in the sale contain good quality prints and old photographs of Shropshire sheep, a handsome dual purpose breed that was developed in the West Midlands region. Most volumes are in excellent condition and some are still in their original paper wrappers and contain the breed society secretary’s compliment slip, explains Pippa Geddes of the SSBA.

“This sale is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy books published by the oldest sheep breed society in the United Kingdom. The sale includes one complete set of annual breed society records from 1882 to the present day, and will appeal to keen collectors and agricultural historians. Five other almost complete sets and smaller lots are also included in the auction, which commences on 1st December and will end on the 15th December.

“In its heyday, the Shropshire was an immensely popular breed, and members of the breed society were very progressive, promoting and exporting their sheep throughout the British Empire. The flock books contain a wealth of interesting material about the breed and the society members, who included members of the British and European aristocracy and even Royalty. The books reflect the great enthusiasm for British livestock that existed around the world.”

More details of the sale are available on Ebay (www.ebay.co.uk), by typing SSBA into the search field. Funds raised by the sale will be used by the present day Shropshire Sheep Breeders’ Association (a registered charity) to promote the breed at home and abroad.


SHROPSHIRE RAMS GO “ON TRIAL” AT WALFORD COLLEGE
Date: 10th November 2005

One of Britain’s oldest, traditional breeds of sheep is to be evaluated as a terminal sire for cross-bred lamb production at Walford and North Shropshire College.

In a trial that has just commenced at the College, Shropshire rams are being used alongside Charollais tups on a flock of Lleyn ewes. This is the first time that Shropshires have been compared with a Continental breed for commercial lamb production in an independent study.

Commenting on the trial, Adrian Joynt, farm manager at Walford and North Shropshire College said: “Following the recent changes in the CAP, the need to produce high quality lambs that finish without expensive supplementary feed, but still produce the carcase quality the market requires, is paramount The Shropshire was developed in this region, so it should suit the local conditions. The Shropshire Sheep Breeders’ Association says Shropshire lambs finish successfully on grass and produce a good carcass, so the trial will be a timely assessment of the breed.

“In order to fully evaluate the cross-bred progeny from both breeds of ram, we will sell all the lambs direct to a local abattoir, rather than through a livestock market. We will then obtain feedback on lamb carcass grades for conformation and fat class. This, combined with other data about feed use and growth rates, should reveal the relative merit of each breed of tup used.”

Two Shropshire rams were delivered to Walford and North Shropshire College near Shrewsbury, in September. They are now running with around 65 Lleyn ewes from the College’s commercially-managed flock. Two Charollais tups are running with an equal number of Lleyns, with the females for the tupping groups having been selected at random. The two groups of ewes will be managed in exactly the same way up to lambing.

All cross-bred lambs will be tagged individually at birth and records will be kept of the lambing date, lambing difficulty and the sex of the lambs. All lambs will be managed in the same way until they reach slaughter weight at the target level of finish. Results of the trial are expected in the winter of 2006.

The ram trial has the full backing of the Shropshire Sheep Breeders’ Association, as breed society secretary, Pippa Geddes, explains: “Members of the SSBA are delighted that the trial is going ahead, because it gives Shropshires the chance to prove that they can deliver what the market wants.

“The Shropshire was developed as a supreme meat breed, and in its heyday it was exported all over the world for crossing with the indigenous sheep to improve lamb quality. Our members have worked hard to retain the important commercial growth and carcass traits that are essential for terminal sires.”