Exploiting the potential of the Hampshire Down + Lleyn combo

Mike and Marie Williams
Mike and Marie Williams

Mike and Marie Williams, of Rosecastle Farm, Rhos, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire explain how they run their 400 acre family partnership which includes 1,000 Lleyn breeding females.

“We manage a profit driven business; maximising ewes per acre and subsequent output is among our sheep enterprise’s objectives. Introducing the Lleyn damline has enabled us to establish a closed flock resulting in output improving by over 20% with an average 195% lambs reared in total, and minimising health risks.

Hampshire Down Rams

Hampshire Down Rams

“Seeking to further improve the farm’s efficiency without major outlay, we introduced the Hampshire Down as a terminal sire to cross to the lower producing Lleyn ewes, and rear the lambs to finishing. We select these rams on conformation together with Signet performance data for growth and muscle depth.

“These Hampshire Down cross lambs finish four to six weeks earlier than those by other terminal sires, and without any extra effort. Trading to Pembrokeshire Quality Livestock, we make the first draw reaching 18kg target deadweight, at 10 to 12 weeks.

“Hitting that earlier market in early to mid-June, we’re able to secure a premium. However, the key is to have the maximum number of lambs away possible by 20 week weaning. We find that a consistent 70% of the crop will reach 18kg and grade R+ 3L by then, that’s 20% more than our lambs bred by other terminal sires.

“Faster finishing pays dividends; we start drenching monthly from July, so the number of treatments is significantly reduced along with the workload. Also, the swards are freed up earlier leaving more grazing later on for flushing.

“Combining the native genetics and those selected for improved performance is definitely being demonstrated in the lambs which are meeting both our own requirements for replacements and the marketplace, and helping to realise our unit’s overall potential.”