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Using Innovis genetics to utilise land and maximise output from a commercial flock

2020, Aberfield, Abermax, Highlander

with kind permission of Frank Lloyd, Dorelands, Abbey Dore, Hereford

Until 2014, Frank Lloyd was keeping Suffolk cross mules at his home farm in Abbey Dore, Herefordshire. Although the Suffolk cross was producing good quality fat lambs, Frank decided it was time to move on, reducing the stocking density on his 350 acres of rented ground. Therefore, he introduced an Aberfield x Welsh ewe to the farm. Although rearing 1.6 lambs compared to the Suffolk’s 1.7 lambs, being 10-15kg lighter than its predecessor meant that the stocking density could be significantly higher with the Aberfield x Welsh and ultimately increase lamb output. 

Frank was impressed by the performance of the Aberfield crosses, lambing with minimal assistance and demonstrating good mother-ability, producing vigorous, fast growing lambs and weaning their bodyweight by 12 weeks post lambing. All while eating 50% less concentrate in the final 4 weeks before lambing. 

Fast forward a few years and the system at Dorelands has adapted further. Changing circumstances with regards to rented ground meant that the Lloyds needed to build more flexibility in to their sheep system, to achieve this they have introduced the Innovis Highlander. 

A commercial flock of 500 Highlander ewes are crossed with Aberfields to produce quality, high health status ewe lambs for sale to supply a growing demand. The Aberfield x Highlanders retained within the flock are lambed as ewe lambs to a Primera terminal sire and later in their lifetime, to high index Abermax rams – this system produces lambs suited to both live and deadweight outlets. 

The Highlander ewes run on marginal land and frequently scan at 180% – 190%, Frank takes advantage of the versatility of the Aberfield by selecting breeding rams with high growth rates and a lower scanning percentage EBV in order to manage the prolificacy of the Highlander and produce well framed progeny with wether lambs that grown and grade out well. 

In 2015, Frank joined Innovis as a breeding partner and now breeds 150 Aberfield and Abermax rams for Innovis. Each ram is fully performance recorded for 40+ traits as part of the breeding programme and forage reared. 


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