Ewan and Lucy Grant farm Gaskbeg, a 550 ha LFA farm in the Central Highlands. The unit is predominately hill and marginal grazing running up to 2,900ft with some inbye arable around 900ft.
We have been using Highlanders for 10 years on our 650 ewe flock and have replaced half of our pure Blackface ewes with first cross Highlanders to achieve improved lambing percentages and quality lambs.
This year the Highlander crosses scanned at 175% and they consistently achieve 25% more lambs than the pure Blackface under the same management.
We lamb outdoors on the in-bye in late April. The Highlanders lamb easily, with quality milk and have proved to be particularly good mothers. These first cross ewes are also showing exceptional longevity with durable udder structure and improved tooth retention leading to an improvement in the annual depreciation of this breeding flock.
Highlander or Abertex tups are used on the first cross ewes to produce three quarter and Abertex cross breeding ewe lambs for sale in September to farms down country.
The wethers are finished dead weight to average 18kg with predominately R grades or better. The first reach target weight off grass aftermaths from 16 weeks, with the remainder from October finished quickly off a kale and stubble turnip mix by early December to mitigate against snow fall or poor weather compromising the job.
The use of Innovis genetics has been such a success that we are further expanding the flock with Highlander crosses to target 850 ewes by 2020.