Future proofing a Cumbrian flock

Innovis open day, Troutbeck, Windermere; 23 August

Cumbrian sheep farmers will have the opportunity to find out how Pip Simpson and Hannah Towers are future proofing their 550-ewe sheep enterprise at Poolebank Farm, Troutbeck, Windermere when they host an Innovis open day on 23 August.

“Introducing the Aberfield is successfully adding real value to our flock,” explains Mr Simpson. “For the past five years we have crossed our North Country Cheviots with the Aberfield and sold the gimmer lambs for breeding purposes. We find they are in real demand from farmers up and down the country seeking an efficient ewe – one that can achieve a relatively high lambing percentage with heavier, high quality lambs.

“We used to run a flock of Herdwicks, however we experienced massive losses - 300 ewes were stolen within four years, and we subsequently chose to stock a different damline. We chose the Lairg Cheviot – a good maternal hardy ewe with a high draft value, however we felt there was potential to improve the Cheviot’s performance. We decided not to go the standard route having become aware of the Aberfield from Innovis - I liked what it was offering.

“Aberfield genetics are grass reared which to me means they hold the potential for more profit, and they are consistently proving to do exactly what it says on the tin.” Mid-April born lambs are reared solely off milk and grass. Whilst the gimmer lambs are sold off the SDA unit for breeding purposes at 16 plus weeks, the wethers are traded through the store ring from 12 plus weeks of age. 

Seeking a slice of the action for himself, this season Mr Simpson is retaining 150 Aberfield Cheviot gimmer lambs for flock replacement purposes and introduce them to a terminal sire. “We are seeking to improve output on this hill unit at every turn. Our latest target is to increase scan by over 20% to an average 170%, and we are confident we have the tools in the Aberfield Cheviot to do the job.”

Further open day information from Innovis’ Claire Irving on 07792 096999.

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