Jennifer MacKenzie is an agricultural photo journalist with almost 30 year's experience. Operating from her base in Cumbria, Jennifer undertakes mainly industry-related freelance writing and photography.
Lough Green Texels win award
A Langley Texel flock has won the progressive flock award for the breed made by EBLEX’s Better Returns Programme.
John and Kathleen Davison began performance recording their 30-ewe Lough Green flock three years ago and they have come out with the most improved index in the breed with their 2004 lamb crop.
The award is made for the greatest improvement in flock breeding potential and the Lough Green flock improved by 29 points on the year to 186.
The biggest influences on the overall score were an increase in muscle depth, liveweight increases and lean weight estimates.
The flock was founded at the 290-acre Lough Green Farm, Langley-on-Tyne, near Hexham, in 1996 and the majority of the current ewes have been home-bred. One of the original females has only recently left the flock at 10 years old.
AI has been used on the flock for the last two years using semen from Signet recorded rams – Haremoss Important Boy, which sold in Lanark for 15,000gns and Lochar Jupiter which made 1,700gns in Lanark.
“Performance figures are another tool in identifying good sheep. I sell most of my Texel rams as shearlings at Hexham and I have a good level base of customers who come back year after year,” said Mr Davison.
“I know in my own mind that they are going to perform because they have got the breeding and the records behind them.”
February-born ram lambs bred at Lough Green are used as lambs on the 250-ewe Bleu du Maine cross flock, with the two types of sheep working together well.
They are sold as shearlings and last year the Davisons showed the champion at the September Hexham sale which went on to sell for £1,750, a record for the breed at the centre.
The 10 sold also made the sale’s top average of £680 with the majority of the rams going to commercial flocks.
This year there are expected to be 15 shearlings entered for the sale.
Bleu du Maine rams are also bred on the farm from the 20-ewe pedigree Langley flock.
Crossbred hoggs with single Texel-sired lambs at foot are sold in May. Last year they averaged £117 for 34 sold through Hexham mart to a top price of £135.
Texel cross lambs which are sold finished through Hexham mart until the end of November last year averaged £50.47 weighing 45.9kg for 167 sold. The lambs are regular winners of local primestock shows.
The farm runs a herd of 40 Limousin and Belgian Blue suckler cows which are put to the Limousin or Blonde d’Aquitaine bulls.
Heifers are finished at 20 to 22 months old and sold direct to local butchers. Steers have been finished at 23 to 24 months old to claim the second premium through Hexham, although some smaller steers are sold direct to the butcher.