Simplified Feeding System adds to Success of Award Winning Pedigree Breeder
For award winning Pedigree Lleyn and Blue Texel breeder, Edward Collins of Bearwood Farm, Herefordshire, an easy and simple management system combining top flock genetics and high quality supplementary feeding is, in his opinion, the future of profitable UK sheep production.
The pedigree flock at Bearwood Farm consists of 200 Lleyns and 50 Blue Texels plus 150 ewe replacements, and it is safe to say that Mr Collins’ knowledge and expertise of pedigree breeding has attracted the recent attention of industry experts and media across the UK.
Back in 2013, Mr Collins was nominated as Farmer’s Weekly Sheep Farmer of the Year finalist as a result of performance recording, use of modern technologies and the success of his social media profile to market his pedigree rams. More recently, Mr Collins was named winner of the AHDB 2016 Better Returns Programme (BRP) Award for the Lleyn breed as a result of making the greatest improvement in breeding potential in the past year. In that same year, the Countryfile team filmed at Bearwood Farm, and Adam Henson purchased two of Mr Collins’ Lleyn rams to join his flock at Cotswold Farm Park due to their good worm resistance.
The breeding success of the Bearwood flock has its foundations set firmly in the preparation for tupping time. Teaser rams are used for 16 days prior to the breeding rams which are introduced for just two oestrus cycles. This strict tupping policy and good fertility means lambing gets off on a good footing, with 80% of the flock lambing in the first 16 days.
Mr Collins’ drive towards an easy-care and efficient grass-based system, without any reliance on traditional concentrate feeding at all, makes block feeding ideal. At housing, from five weeks before lambing, all ewes are offered LIFELINE Lamb & Ewe feed blocks alongside good quality silage.
“Lambing has been easier since using LIFELINE. Lleyns are also naturally a very milky breed, and I’ve had many previous problems with small lambs struggling to latch on to large teats whilst also struggling to cope with the production of too much milk as a result of concentrate feeding, especially in the older ewes. With LIFELINE, the ewes have enough quality milk for the newborn lamb and they tend to milk to demand thereby reducing the oversupply of milk and the development of large teats and mastitis” explains Mr Collins.
Problems with supplementary feeding post-lambing in recent years led Mr Collins in search of an alternative supplement to suit his easy-care system. He comments, “I found compound feeding very labour intensive and had many problems with mis-mothering. My ewes also had too much milk making mastitis a big problem within the flock”.
“I first heard about Rumevite Graze DUP* blocks when reading an article written by the widely respected SAC Sheep Specialist Dr John Vipond. I liked the idea of a block specifically formulated for after lambing, whilst also being backed by scientific research”.
“Since feeding Rumevite Graze DUP* blocks after lambing, the flock remains calm when I drive into the field which makes it a lot easier to count the ewes and their lambs. It has also reduced my workload and is much simpler than compound feeding” states Mr Collins. “I also record lamb eight-week weights, and scan for fat and muscle depth at 21 weeks. So far I am very happy with their performance”.
Laura Drury, Rumenco’s Technical Adviser adds, “Rumevite Graze DUP* blocks are one of Rumenco’s latest innovations. Having considered the latest research from Dr John Vipond, we identified that in addition to our wide range of feed block formulations, there was an opportunity to specifically design a product to complement spring grass whilst also supporting ewe milk production and suckling lamb growth rates, two of the main objectives after lambing. Mis-mothering and stress is also a considerable problem associated with compound feeding, therefore as well as producing a product designed to have a cost benefit to the farmer, we also wanted it to help ease feeding management after lambing. The benefits of feeding high DUP (rumen by-pass protein) contained within the blocks at spring grass has also been demonstrated in two independent studies resulting in better lamb weight gain and performance when compared with controls”.
*Digestible Undegradable Protein.