The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)

Flock performanc­e check


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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