Cambwell Flock’s Recording Progress Recognised by QMS

 by Camy in News, Texel Sheep Society

Texel Sheep SocietyBiggar, Lanarkshire-based Texel breeders Robert and Joyce Laird are the 2016 winners of the Johnston Carmichael Trophy for the best recorded flock in Scotland.

The Laird family’s Cambwell flock, one of the oldest Texel flocks in the UK, has been performance recorded for the past 30 years, with huge genetic improvements seen in recent years thanks to careful recording and analysing of data, followed up by excellent management decisions and good husbandry.

The Lairds farm about 400 acres of mostly LFA grassland where they run 60 suckler cows, 80 pedigree Texels and 240 commercial ewes. “We use recorded Angus bulls on the suckler herd and sell the steers deadweight. I think you really see the value of performance recording from the carcases and can see the genetic improvements. I have adopted the same principle with the sheep and can easily see the benefits to the flock,” said Mr Laird.

The Lairds are particularly keen on positive fat and muscle EBVs. “Growth is important too, but I feel that performance recording can be too geared towards growth rates. I am mindful of keeping easy-fleshed, medium-sized sheep, which is what the commercial market wants.”

Mr Laird is convinced there is a link between positive fat and longevity and has seen improvements in his flock in many areas such as growth, milk, fleshing ability and longevity. Indeed he has some ewes which are eight years old.

The Lairds have also paid great attention to detail in terms of the health of both flocks which are scrapie monitored and MV accredited. This, along with the performance recording, has opened up the world market to them and the first shipment of 10 Cambwell Texels were exported to Switzerland in 2014.

Last year they sent 26 sheep to Holland, Switzerland and Italy and have benefitted from semen sales to Brazil, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Canada and the US.

About 40 tup lambs and 20 shearlings are sold in Britain each year with their best price in 2003 being 50,000gns for Cambwell Jacobite. Last year the shearlings averaged £800 and the lambs £1000. They also sell surplus females as in-lamb gimmers and these have sold to a top of 16,000gns.

Some of the home-bred Texels are used on the commercial flock which has the same high health status as the pedigree flock. “As a result we have a good market for breeding females as recipient ewes. Therefore, we select for growth and female traits as well as fast finishing,” observed Mr Laird. The wether lambs are sold through Lanark market or on the hook and are mostly U grades with some R at an average of 21kg deadweight.

The flock is also one of the first to be involved with the Texel genomics project which aims to identify genes resistant to foot rot and mastitis.”When you see the genetic improvements the dairy, beef and pig industries have achieved over the years through recording, there is no reason for it not to work with sheep – it is the same science and mindset. I am delighted to receive this trophy from QMS which recognises the gains my flock has made thanks to recording.”

Full Article…

CamyCambwell Flock’s Recording Progress Recognised by QMS