Flock per­for­mance check

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS -

When look­ing to im­prove flock per­for­mance and pro­duc­tiv­ity it is al­ways use­ful to ask whether us­ing a dif­fer­ent breed might be worth con­sid­er­ing?

To this end, be­tween 2011 and 2016 we com­pared and con­trasted the per­for­mance of Lleyn and Black­face ewes. Apart from tup­ping, both breeds ran to­gether through­out each year.

At ul­tra­sound scan­ning they were sep­a­rated into dif­fer­ent feed­ing groups ac­cord­ing to their ex­pected num­ber of lambs.

Over the five years, the av­er­age scan­ning per­cent­age of the Black­face was 125% (rang­ing from a high of 130% to a low of 107%), while the Lleyns was higher at 139% (rang­ing from 165% to 119% across the years). Lamb­ing per­cent­age fol­lowed a sim­i­lar trend, with the Black­face av­er­ag­ing 118% and Lleyns 128%. The bar­ren rate was on av­er­age slightly higher in the Black­face (11%) than in the Lleyns (8%), but both breeds had sim­i­lar amounts of ewe mor­tal­ity and lambs born dead (6% for the Black­face and 5% for the Lleyns).

At birth, Lleyn lambs were slightly heav­ier than the Black­face (an av­er­age of 3.7 kg ver­sus 3.5 kg) and by wean­ing the Black­face were marginally heav­ier (at 27.9 kg com­pared to 27.8 kg).

The av­er­age fin­ished price per lamb was around £64 per lamb for the Lleyns and £61 per lamb for the Scot­tish Black­face, with the av­er­age num­ber of days to fin­ish­ing be­ing shorter for the Lleyns at 186 days com­pared to the Black­face at 195 days.

These re­sults sug­gest Lleyns can per­form just as well, or even bet­ter, as Black­face un­der the harsh cli­matic con­di­tions we face at Kirk­ton and Auchter­tyre. The fu­ture of farm­ing is up for dis­cus­sion at a special event at today’s Tar­land Food and Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

A panel dis­cus­sion look­ing at the chal­lenges posed by Brexit, the role of new agri­cul­tural tech­nolo­gies and cli­mate change, takes place at the Fes­ti­val Cafe in Tar­land Square this af­ter­noon.

The chair­man for the ses­sion is well-known agri­cul­tural con­sul­tant and direc­tor of food, drink and agri­cul­ture at Op­por­tu­nity North East, Peter Cook.

The panel will also in­clude Qual­ity Meat Scot­land knowl­edge trans­fer spe­cial­ist Re­becca Rain­nie, Daniel Robert­son

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