THE Hampshire Down breed as a terminal sire is working very well for Gloucestershire based farmers Sam and Phillipa Page.
The good eating quality of the lamb is attracting more customers to their farm shop and the excellent growth rates and good killing out percentages are ticking the boxes for the deadweight market too.
Phillipa and Sam are in year eight of a 15-year tenancy on Grange Farm, rented from Gloucestershire County Council.
The farm is 100 acres with some winter grazing taken every year in the area. Their farm shop was opened five years ago and sells lamb, pork and turkeys reared on the farm, plus fruit, veg, cheese, beef, honey, milk, cakes and bread produced locally. The shop was selling 6-8 lambs a month at the start and has now grown to 16 lambs a month.
“The lamb sales have doubled since we started, helped by the coronavirus increasing our footfall significantly with customers looking to buy locally. Now they have tasted the lamb we’re confident that we can keep them coming back,” said Phillipa. “The new customers like the fact they can ask questions and see where their food is produced as well as the quality of the product.”
The 300 ewes that are kept are a mixture of early lambing Suffolk Mules, which lamb in January/February, to the Hampshire and the North Country mules that are lambed in April, which gives them a good supply of early lambs for the shop and then right through the year. Historically a combination of Meatlinc and Texel rams were used and a maternal Suffolk to produce replacements. A Hampshire was introduced a couple of years ago and it was found that they produce good lambs on both types of ewes.
“We aim to have the Hampshires killed at 38kgs as the smaller joints are easier to sell in the shop,” explains Phillipa. “We like to be able to lamb early too as generally the commercial prices are better then.”
The remainder of the lambs are sold through Randal Parker or Dunbia Carnaby with pleasing results due to the good killing out percentages.
Phillipa added: “With the excellent growth rates the lambs are on the farm for less time, which is a big plus point. They fit both of our markets of finished lamb production sold deadweight and lamb specifically for our farm shop and we find their temperament easy to work with.”
n The Hampshire Down Sheep Breeders Association of Ireland is holding a sale of rams consisting of six shearling rams and nine ram lambs at Armoy Livestock Market on Wednesday, September 16, starting at 8pm. Online bidding will be available through www.marteye.ie or download the app.