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Champion Male Exhibit and Best Shearling Poll Ram, 2017, sponsored by Waitrose, Thomas Wright’s Ballytaggart XStyle, with from left Dylan Laws, Waitrose, Edwin Pocock, President and Thomas Wright Cham

May Fair is just around the corner and the 8th and 9th May will soon be upon us.


There is no better opportunity for pedigree and commercial breeders to see what the countries breeders have on offer. It also offers potential new breeders the chance to meet members of our friendly Association.


COUNCIL MEETING WEDNESDAY, 28nd FEBRUARY, 2018 May Fair See Separate Items on Pages 3 & 4. Early Notice of 2018 Annual General Meeting Please see details on Page 5. Further details and the dinner menus will be sent out in due course.

Applications for Membership The following new applications for membership were accepted: Mr & Mrs P Cianchi, Herefordshire Mr D Cuddy, Northern Ireland Mr N Darling, Norfolk Mrs M Davies, Wales Mr & Mrs E Evans, Wales Mrs E Goss, Bedfordshire Mrs L Hodgson, Cumbria Miss K Hughson, Wales Mr R W Irwin, Northern Ireland Mr C Lewis (Junior), Wales Mr S Majury, Northern Ireland Messrs. J & J Moore, Northern Ireland Mr S Nicholas, Somerset Mr C Pugh, Wales Mr D Scollan (Junior), Northern Ireland

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Members re-joined since publication of Flock Book. Misses M & H Lewis Mr L O’Rourke Mr S Redman


Hanbury Drummond Blue Cedar Gwyddil Calon-y-Gelli May Bankend Tymawr Corglasson Llolwyn Tullyhill Brookview Allendale Cefn Killee


INSPECTION “There will be a strict inspection for Health, Teeth and Testicles for all rams and individual females which will take place prior to 11.30 a.m.on Tuesday, 8th May by a 3 member inspection panel. This will also include physical and type traits. A vet will be on site for any appeals. Any appeals must be made in writing, within half an hour of inspection, to the Chairman with a £20 fee, which will be refunded should the appeal be upheld. All rams and individual females MUST be on site by 10.00 a.m. on Tuesday, 8nd May, 2018. Any rams and individual females not on site by 10.00 a.m. will not be accepted.

MAY FAIR ENTRY FORMS May Fair entry forms are now being sent out, but only to those breeders that have entered May Fair in the past five or six years. They will also be sent to those of you I have an e-mail address for. The entry forms will be available to download from the Website, but if you require entry forms to be sent to you please let me know as soon as possible. ENTRIES CLOSE ON TUESDAY, 10TH APRIL AT 12 NOON. PAYMENT MUST BE MADE WITH ENTRY FORMS, EITHER BY CHEQUE OR BACS. ANY VENDORS WITH OUTSTANDING MAY FAIR ENTRY FEES AND/OR OUTSTANDING DEBTS AS AT 1 P.M. ON 10 APRIL WILL NOT BE INCLUDED IN THE DRAW. PLEASE REMEMBER FAXED OR E-MAILED ENTRIES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. NO LATE ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED.



SIGNET CLASSES (Female & Male) These classes will no longer be worked out on points and showing results, but will now be judged as per a normal show class. However, on entering the ring entries will be lined up according to index. Winners of both the classes will be eligible for their respective championship. Rams or females entered in these classes will not be allowed to enter any other class, apart from the Progeny class.

MONDAY NIGHT ARRIVALS FOR MAY FAIR Any vendors wishing to arrive for May Fair on the Monday evening MUST ring Russell Steer after 6 p.m. on the Monday, on 01392 251261 to ascertain exactly what time they may be allowed to gain entry, BUT THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO GUARANTEE THAT ACCESS WILL BE ALLOWED, AND IT IS ENTIRELY AT THE VENDORS OWN RISK.

The Cornella Cup This cup and a bursary of £100 (to help the winner towards expenses to attend the AGM) is awarded annually in memory of the late David Mathews, Greenfield Farm, Treoes, Bridgend ( passed President of the Society), by his wife Mrs Liz Mathews to the most “enterprising young breeder” in recognition of all that David did in encouraging young breeders in developing their interest in the Dorset breed. Council are now inviting nominations from members with an explanation of why the nominee is being put forward, by the June Council meeting to be held on Wednesday, 27th June, 2018, so that the winner can be invited to the Annual General Meeting in Suffolk, on 3rd November, 2018, where the award will be presented. The winner will be selected by our President, Francis Fooks. “If you are young and keen in the Breed”, then why not give it a go – nothing to loose but a lot to gain !


2018 AGM DETAILS Date: Saturday, 3rd November, 2018 at Wantisden Hall Farms, Wantisden, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3PG, by kind permission of J H Kemball & Son, and Tim Pratt. Transport – By air -

Stanstead airport is approximately 1.5 hrs away and flights from both Belfast or Dublin are available. Southend airport could also be an option

By Road -

The farm is approximately 25 min North of Ipswich. Directions are fairly easy from the A12 at Woodbridge.

By Rail -

Ipswich has a good rail station and regular services from London or Peterborough.

Provisional Accommodation – Ufford Park which is close to Woodbridge. Negotiations are still being held over prices and and as soon as details are finalised members will be informed. Dinner at Ufford Park – details and menus to be sent out in due course. Provisonal Itinerary 9.30 a.m.

Tea and Coffee on arrival

10.00 a.m.

AGM to be held at Wantisden Valley – Lots of parking available to either drive or get a coach to the venue.

11.00 a.m.

Load up onto Tractors and Trailers to view both Deben and Staverton Flocks

13.30 p.m.

Lunch back at Wantisden Valley. (Potential to have lunch in the Hush house (old jet testing hanger), depending on filming!


Tour of Bentwaters Airfield – to include Agri-Gen (AD Plant), 3M’s onion and potato grader etc as well as general airfield and filming areas.

17.30 ish

Back to Wantisden Valley for departure to hotel.


Dinner at Ufford Park

Sunday -

Number of options available – We could have a look round both the cold war museum at Bentwaters and also Bill Kemballs museum of vintage tractors and equipment (One of the largest in the country I think!) I am also looking into the possibility of looking round a large commercial flock who are using Dorset rams. They are only 5 miles away from us and are in the ram compare trials this year. I sold them a ram to participate in the trials this year, one of Francis Fooks’ 5

Stratasys flock wins Decade of Progress Award for the Dorset sheep breed The Stratasys flock, owned by James and Barbara Stratton from Charlton Mackrell, in Somerset, has been recognised by AHDB Beef & Lamb as the most progressive flock of Dorset sheep based on the flock’s genetic merit and improvement over the past 10 years. James and Barbara Stratton moved to Priory Farm, Charlton Mackrell, in 1999 when James left the Army. They established the flock with the purchase of foundation stock from three separate breeders. James says: “Initially we started with Dorset Horns but about 15 years ago introduced Polled semen from the Centurion Sire Reference Group. The flock is currently just under 100 ewes with about 30 ewe lambs following on.” In addition to the Dorset sheep, they also have about 30 pedigree Devon cattle which they also performance record. Most stock is sold through livestock markets as prime lamb. Any breeding stock sold is off farm to private buyers. James and Barbara have been recording their sheep since 2000, making up nearly 18 years of continuous recording and improvement. “We started recording because we wanted to improve the quality of our stock,” says James. “I feel by collecting performance data on commercially important traits, we are then in a position to make informed choices about mating decisions. Without this information, you are making selection decisions either blind, or purely based on breed characteristics.” The Stratasys flock maintains a closed flock policy. James explains: “There have been no purchases of ewes or rams since 2008. This means we need to maintain genetic diversity by keeping a variety of ram bloodlines. Ram selection involves selecting on the Terminal Sire Index, while also maintaining genetic diversity.” Ewes are the most important asset in the Stratasys Flock, as they provide the basis for genetic variation. James says: “We select ewes purely on index score, but also with an eye on genetic outliers. This means that any ewe with an outstanding single trait, such as muscle score, would be retained in the flock. Apart from that, we select on both the Terminal Sire and Maternal Indices.” The flock acquired Sandhurst A106 in 2005.

This ram has been very influential and is a son of Douglas Downs 77/95, which proved himself across all breeds in the New Zealand central progeny test and has gone on to be one of the most influential horned rams in the World. “Sandhurst A106 was a LoinMax carrier. Sheep identified with the LoinMAX gene have 10 per cent more loin muscling than those without it,” explains James. “Other LoinMax genes were acquired through the purchase of female sheep sired by New Zealand LoinMax sires.” Among these sires was High Plains 512/04147, a polled ram that has also been influential in the flock. “We have stopped selecting for LoinMax directly, instead we rely on loin muscle measurements taken by AHDB as part of the Signet recording process. “We are really pleased to have won this award – it is recognition of 18 years of selecting for high performance stock.”


ARRESTING HOBBY THAT HAS STOOD THE TEST OF TIME!! James Royan bought his first Dorset ewe when he was only eight years old and, while his career has taken a completely different direction from sheep breeding, he has maintained a passion for the versatile and docile breed. His father Jim Royan was running the family butcher’s shop in Elgin, Morayshire, and it was his good friend Dean Anderson who first introduced the young James to the Dorset. “I was more interested in the livestock side and I spent most of my weekends helping out at Dean Anderson’s Mayne Farm, Elgin where at the time he had Dorset Horns. I had saved up my pocket money and bought my first Dorset Horn, an aged ewe which was in lamb, in 1981 for £32 from Dean,” said James. In November, 2016, he was proud and honoured to be elected chairman of the Dorset Horn and Poll Dorset Sheep Breeders’ Association - he was the first Scotsman to be elected onto the association council in 2007 and is now the first Scots chairman. In November, 2017, he and the association hosted their first annual meeting in Scotland in James’ home region of Morayshire. Back in the 1980s, James ran a very small pure-bred commercial flock for 10 years until he went to the Moray House Institute, at that time part of Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, to study to be a PE teacher, reflecting his love of sport and his other passion - rugby. On qualifying, he returned to the north of Scotland working as a teacher in Aberdeen and Peterhead. Then another change of career in 1998 took him into the police force, spending the next nine years in Aberdeenshire. He is now a Superintendent within the Lothian and Scottish Borders Division of Police Scotland. A move to the Borders to live on his wife Vicki’s family farm Putton Mill, Duns, in 2007 enabled James to fulfil his ambition - to start a pedigree flock of Poll Dorsets. Before the move south, James had already begun looking for his foundation females and his first purchases were from the 200 ewe pedigree Ramsden flock run by Michael and Robyn Butler, at Bartlehill, Kelso. He bought into the Ramsden bloodlines with four aged ewes, two gimmers and two ewe lambs as well as the ram Ramsden Hunter, which went back to the Rene flock from Australia, just 18 months before the Butlers dispersed the flock and emigrated to Australia to run a large sheep station. The Bennachie flock, named after the highest hill in Aberdeenshire which James could see when walking his dog from Newmachar where he worked at the time, is run at Putton Mill, farmed by his father in law and brother in law Frank and Bruce Millar. The flock now numbers 25 ewes and 10 ewe lambs. It has been built up with selective breeding but the foundation stock has left its mark. One of the first females, Ramsden J885 which has only been culled earlier this year, produced Bennachie Nimrod which was purchased by Devon breeder David Rossiter for his Huish flock and has bred a number of rams successfully sold at the association’s May Fair in 7

Exeter. The ram caught David’s eye when on the Dorset stand at Scotsheep seven years ago. She was also the dam of Bennachie Scheihallion bought by Richard and Rob Hole in Dorset in 2012 after Rob saw him when judging at the Great Yorkshire Show and placed the ram as male champion. Scheihallion has also bred May Fair ram lambs sold from their Sherborne flock. Both ram lambs were sold privately. In 2008, James sold his first pen of females from his foundation ewes at the inaugural Carlisle sale in August. At the 2010 Carlisle sale a ram lamb, Bennachie Pharlap by stock ram Ballytaggart Keltic Star, bought from Northern Ireland breeder Thomas Wright sold for 1,000gns - the first time a Dorset had made four figures in Carlisle. A small selection of stock ewes who have run with Ballytaggart Xtra-Special, including the Breed Champion from the Great Yorkshir show, 2016 on the left.

Over the years some selected females have been added to the flock to bring in new bloodlines, the greatest number coming from the Huish flock.

An early decision, despite the aim of containing flock numbers, was to record the sheep. The flock is Signet recorded which James sees as an important management tool to complement visual appearance and he believes it is becoming increasingly important when marketing breeding stock. Ramsden Hunter was in the top 25% of the breed for terminal traits. The most recent purchase for 1,050gns at the May Fair, Sherborne Zodiac from Rob Hole, was placed third in the Signet recorded class and is in the top 1% for terminal traits.

The current stock ram Ballytaggart Xtra-special was purchased from Thomas Wright in March 2016 for a four figure sum. Then a lamb, James took him to the Great Yorkshire Show where he was first placed ram lamb. His first sons were sold at May Fair, 2017, and some of his daughters were sold at the Carlisle association Two current rams. On the right is Sherborne Zodiac, purchased sale in August, 2017. at the May Fair, 2017. On the left is Ballytaggart Xtra-Special, purchased privately in March, 2016, from Thomas Wright.


James began exhibiting at the Yorkshire Show in 2011 and that year and the next two years he showed - 2012 and 2015 he took the Northern Dorset Breeders’ Club championship. He also won the reserve breed championship in those years but went one better in 2016 to take the championship. He also took the supreme championship at the Northern Club sale in Chelford in 2014. But probably his greatest achievement was receiving the supreme championship at the 2015 Carlisle sale with a home bred ewe lamb out of Richhill Tequila which sold for 700gns. AI rams used successfully on the flock have been Drumlin Lotus and Ballytaggart Nipper. Lambing is twice a year with the majority lambing at the end of September-beginning of October. Those that haven’t held to the ram get a second chance and join the January lambing group.

An October born ewe lamb sired by Ballytaggart Xtra-Special and out of a home bred ewe. She will be part of the Bennachie show team this year.

Twin born and reared lambs born in March, 2017, at 11 weeks old with no concentrate used.

“I am keen to show the sheep, seeing it as a good shop window for the flock. I’m aiming to breed females with a bit of scale, correctness and good locomotion. Personally, I don’t like my ewes to be overly masculine. I want to breed rams with strong carcase traits.” “My overall aim for the flock is to sell high quality breeding sheep and as a consequence of that there are always some prime lambs to sell which are currently sold through the co-op Farmstock Scotland or through the live ring at St Boswells. I have recently undergone an inspection with Dawn Meats and hope to market my lambs to M&S in the near future”. “They have all done exceptionally well. The pure bred lambs will sell at about 45kg and kill out at an average 50%. My early lambs for the Easter trade will make well in excess of £100 a head and averaging £93 a head. I try not to sell them too early so they are not pushed.” The Dorsets fit in well with James’ role in the police. “One of the strong points of the Dorset is they are easy to lamb and they can lamb at any time of the year. The Dorset is not photosensitive unlike other sheep breeds which makes them come into season as the days shorten in Autumn.” “The number of Dorset breeders is increasing year on year and we now have 15 members in Scotland. Ten years ago when I became a council member there was only one other flock in Scotland,” said James. 9

“There is a big following of the Dorset in Northern Ireland where breeders have done a tremendous job in developing the breed into a very competitive terminal sire. “There are also significant numbers of unregistered commercial flocks across the UK. Because of the excellent mothering abilities of the ewe, some sheep breeders use them as ET recipients and there are increasing numbers of commercial producers using the Dorset as a terminal sire as it can compete well with other breeds.”

Because the sheep are easily handled, all the family gets involved with the flock - wife Vicki, daughter Katie, 11 and son Jack, eight, both of whom are keen to show the sheep. Jack is following in his father’s footsteps and went to the Northern Ireland sale last July with his father and bought his first ewe lamb from Richard Currie’s Hilltop flock which was later put in lamb for him. Katie has won numerous young handler awards including the Berwickshire County Mainsacre trophy for the best young handler at the show.

The Royan Family Left to right – Vicki, Katie, Jack & James

James went back to his Dorset roots for the AGM last November, the formal part of which was held in Elgin on the first day. This was followed by a visit to Dean and Andrew Anderson’s Plewlands Farm, Duffus, just outside Elgin to see the flock of 200 Poll Dorsets. While James’ father Jim, the fourth generation of the family, has now retired from Royan the Butcher in Elgin, which dates back to 1850 and is the oldest retail butcher in Scotland, the name continues under the ownership of well-established butcher John Davidson who now runs the shop.


Lincoln University Gene-Marker Laboratory We now have eight commercial gene tests available for the sheep industry worldwide and our business continues to grow. See our website for our existing tests, to order cards or to get an import permit. As some of you are aware, we plough most of the profit we make back into providing resources for teaching at all levels, casual employment for students, and research projects and support for Honours, Masters and PhD student research. In 2018 we will be supporting five honours students and nine PhD students, plus five foreign collaborators. We are looking at corporate sponsorship options for the Honours students, as this helps them find employment. Typically they are from New Zealand farms and are only invited to do Honours if they are the “cream of the crop”. We feel that the extra financial burden of undertaking an honours project should be reduced. Given that most of these students will go on to be leading agriculturalists in New Zealand, we are hoping that further financial support for them can be obtained from industry. If any company or individual would be interested in supporting one of more honours students contact John Bates who would be very happy to discuss how it would work and potentially how they could incorporate their project with your business. One of the big advantages of such a program is that you get the chance to have on board one of our brightest students who will understand your business and could prove to be a valuable asset to you in the future. New/Potential gene-markers GDF9 and fertility Variation in the GDF9 gene (GDF9) has been investigated by European, Asian and Middle-Eastern sheep scientists. Their research has revealed an increase in litter size of approximately 0.20 lambs per ewe with one copy of a variant form of the GDF9 gene, and an approximate increase of 0.46 lambs per ewe, with two copies of the gene variant. Research in Norway has associated this genetic variation with high ovulation rates in the Finnish Landrace breed, but the variation has also been identified within other breeds. In New Zealand we now see this gene variation in a number of sheep breeds and composite sheep. This gene test is now commercially available from our laboratory, so please feel free to discuss with any of us whether this test might be useful in your breeding programme. Wool genes We have Dr Gong Hua (Huitong Zhou’s wife) working on looking at genes that affect valuable wool traits. This project involves all breeds and lots of on-farm testing. One of the driving forces behind this project is to look at the benefit of reducing micron in the strong wool clip to around 32 microns, and whether this could be done without any detrimental effect on other traits. This project has yielded some great results, and we have now applied to Beef+LambNZ, through a group of Romney breeders, to further this project. We are not quite sure how Huitong and Hua balance family versus work, but they are a formidable scientific team with two daughters at Lincoln Primary and High Schools to “manage” as well.


Cold tolerance – a new line of research We hope most of you will be familiar with our cold tolerance gene test. It identifies those animals that have a better chance of rearing a live lamb. These lambs tend to be more vigorous at birth, are heavier and are able to mobilise fat more quickly to generate more heat. Over the last eight months, Erin Waller, an Honours student, has been working with John Simpson of Mt Hay Station. She has been looking more closely at the gene that controls cold-tolerance. Initial research has suggested that those ewes with a poor form of the gene, have lower twinning lamb rates at scanning, than ones with good forms of the gene. We suspect that the same mechanism that contributes to lighter or heavier lambs at birth, is also affecting the number of multiple lambs surviving to scanning. Erin’s work has shown some other interesting results as well. We will be continuing to work with John Simpson through next year, when we will be able to quantify the benefits of our findings. Jon Hickford and Dr Rachel Forrest of EIT (whom we have had the good fortune of being able to engage in this project) are analysing the results. They have helped Erin with her project. Erin may end up back at the family farm in coastal Otago, but is still keen to be involved in this project. Footrot and why SNPs are a bad idea with the MHC There has been much talk about using SNPs and High Density SNP chips to get a better gene test for footrot. The first major trial using SNPs to look at footrot was done in Scotland and more recently this trial was replicated in New Zealand with the Merino Company’s “Feet First” project. Unfortunately while SNPS are a newer technology, and an innovation for the industry, they simply cannot unravel the complexity of the MHC group of genes that we type to ascertain susceptibility to footrot. Sometimes newer is not better! This doesn’t mean that SNPs don’t have a place, just not presently with the MHC genes. There is a need to do further research on footrot. We need to understand why, on some properties in semi-arid areas that only infrequently get footrot, it is that initial outbreak that appears to overwhelm the immune system in the early stages of infection. We have a strong belief that one of the reasons why footrot can spread so quickly, is that scald helps footrot get established. If this can be proven then treatment for scald in the early stages of a footrot outbreak might slow the spread of disease and allow the immune system to better combat those initial outbreaks. There are a number of interesting projects presently being undertaken on footrot, including the use of new GM vaccines in Australia and hoof composition work in Europe. While the vaccine work in Australia is working, our feeling is that hoof composition is less likely to be a major contributor to footrot susceptibility. The reason why we say this because the footrot bacterium attacks the layer between the hoof and tissue and then under-runs the hard hoof keratin. Left untreated, it will lead to partial or total loss of the hoof. Having a harder hoof is unlikely to slow this process. While many farmers will say that white hooves are more prone to footrot than black ones, this is more related to the breeds involved than anything to do with the hoof itself. Suffolk and Hampshire sheep get footrot, despite having black hooves.


Intramuscular fat gene-marker For the last 12 months we have been working on a gene-marker that has shown a lot of promise in increasing intramuscular fat, while only having a small effect on external fat levels. In the next stage of this project, we will be working with Southdown sheep breeders and their progeny test operation. All sheep will be gene-tested for the gene we have identified, and then the lambs will be slaughtered at Alliances Smithfield plant, which has technology to measure intramuscular fat. We will then compare the results from Alliances new intramuscular fat measurement technology with our gene testing results. We have also applied to the MAF-SFF fund for a much bigger project on this topic, including investigating a number of other breeds. As with our other project this one was also rejected. However we will continue to fund this project ourselves, but in a much smaller way. We have just completed blood testing 450 Southdown lambs at Chris Medlecott’s property which will be killed in two weeks’ time and are looking great. We may look at a bigger project next year depending on finances. There has been a lot of talk about intramuscular fat and eating quality. While our personal belief is that most New Zealand lamb is okay, there does seem to be a place for greater marbling in lamb. We also think that as we continue to move to heavier weight lambs, that are more mature, an increase in fat levels will naturally occur. It is possible to increase intramuscular fat with intensive feeding systems, but research suggests supplementary feeds change the taste of meat and that grass-fed meat has fewer “off” or “metallic” tastes. It needs to be remembered that laying down fat is far more expensive than laying down muscle, so there needs to be an economic benefit to increasing the marbling of lamb, through higher lamb prices. Our thoughts on parentage testing This service is offered elsewhere by other gene companies who seem to be set on competing with each other. This is good for breeders as they are able to get some very good deals on testing! We have not entered into this area as we don’t have the resources to develop a test and we are content to focus on single gene effects. There is a place for parentage testing, but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of recording maternal traits such as mothering ability and ease of lambing, or lamb traits such as lamb vigour and teat seeking activity at birth. How quickly can you get results back from us? Over the last few months we have had an upswing in sample numbers and more pressure coming on to get results out on time. We tell all our clients we endeavour to get results back to you within 10 working days of receipt of samples. Unfortunately we have seen a slowing of New Zealand postal service delivery times, with local cards sometimes arriving two weeks after they have been sent. Much longer times have been seen for oversea clients. There are two things that you can do to help. Firstly, if you do need urgent results contact us before you send the samples, so we can push them through as quickly as possible and secondly write on the cards when you need the results. If we do push urgent samples through quickly it is at the expense of other clients so we need to know the timeframes involved.


While we don’t like having to impose additional cost on anyone, we can use rapid and overnight couriers to send out cards and get them back. It isn’t ideal, and it is a shame that postal deliveries are forcing this upon all of us. A final thought….. One of the things we always try to stress is that gene tests, or SIL records, or other measurements, are only tools to help a stud master breed what they consider to be better sheep. The tools by themselves cannot breed sheep. It is also of paramount importance that whatever sheep you breed, it is ‘fit for purpose’. There is no one ‘best animal’ or even one ‘best breed’, but there are certain animals or breeds that are more suited to particular environments or management systems. There is a reason there are close to 1100 breeds of sheep in the world. In the main, it’s because environment has dictated that a certain type of animal is fitter or more able to survive and reproduce in a given environment. While in New Zealand we now manage many of the environmental constraints that historically contributed to breed selection, we are still basically a free-range farming system, which in part is constrained by our environment. Matching our genetics to the environment so that animals perform, so there is little wastage, and so they are financially rewarding, are still key criteria to meet in breeding. Contact details John Bates - Client Manager Mobile +64 (0)21 995 278 Email Footnote: Information on existing tests, cards and import permits are available from the Breed Society office.


Performance Recording: Cheaper, Easier, Better Emma Steele, Signet Breeding Services With performance recording fees becoming cheaper, and methods for submitting data getting easier, there has never been a better time to start recording with Signet. Signet breeding services provide the national genetic evaluation for sheep within our Sheepbreeder scheme, giving breeders the tools to select breeding stock on more than just looks alone. To give breeders the ability to select stock on individual genetic potential, Sheepbreeder uses a series of real data records:     

Pedigree information Birth information 8 week weights 17-21 week weights Ultrasound scanning to measure eye muscle and back fat depth

There are many reasons to begin performance recording your flock with Signet:       

Generation of individual EBVs & indexes Improve your flock more efficiently Increasing demand for Signet recorded stock at sale Public top stock lists published regularly Online inbreeding tool Print sale cards and EBV charts Access to Signet breed specialists with any queries

There has never been a better time to start recording with Signet. Signet have recently undergone a fee structure change where flocks that choose to provide data electronically (Excel spreadsheet/farm software output) or online are rewarded with cheaper fees making performance recording even more cost effective.

*paper based services will no longer be offered to new clients with over 250 ewes 15

Watch out for the four new Dorset rams taking part in phase II of the RamCompare project: 359:W0374 A26:W08318 A26:Z11539 Bamburgh Watson (T51:W0246)

Performance Recording Dorset Flocks Trading Name



Mr Thomas Wright Alistair Johnson James R Royan Graham Langford J Dufosee Tim Pratt Mr William Carson C H Trace & Son A P & L Brookin D W Rossiter Meakin & Body Laura Weir J B May & Son Mr Stuart Alderson Fooks Brothers R P Ryder A & G Sturgess R Hole R D Huxter Jack & Alexandria James J H Kemball & Son R E Morton Stratasys Limited

Ballytaggart Bamburgh Bennachie Blackdown Blackhill Deben Downkillybegs Gortleigh Gwenffrwd Huish Kerlow Lisnafillan Newtoncoombe Paddock Leach Poorton Ryders Saxon Sherborne South Ham Southbank Staverton Stobilee Stratasys

Co. Antrim Northumberland Scottish Borders Devon Wiltshire Suffolk Co. Antrim Devon Ceredigion Devon Cornwall Co. Antrim Cornwall Lancashire Dorset Powys Dorset Dorset Devon Dorset Suffolk Lanarkshire Somerset

If you want more information on becoming a Signet member or anything in this article, contact Emma at: or alternatively have a look at our website


A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON THE NEW ZELAND SHEEP INDUSTRY AND WHAT JOHN BATES, CLIENT MANAGER, LINCOLN UNIVERSITY GENE-MARKER LABORATORY THINKS THE NEXT FEW YEARS HOLD FOR IT. As most of you will know the New Zealand sheep flock has dropped by over 50% in the last 15 to 20 years. This is mainly due to the expansion of dairying on the more productive sheep country, but urban sprawl and intensive horticulture has had a part, along with retirement of some high country land for conservation reasons. There also has been a move to running less sheep but at a much higher performance level. Even with the loss of our best sheep country, sheep performance has improved markedly with average lambing performance sitting a shade under 130% even with the inclusion of our merino sheep that average in the 80’s. Carcass weight has also improved from around the 13kg to 14kg’s up to around 18kg. The type of sheep we have, has also changed. Where once Romney dominated we have seen the advent of the composite sheep. This came about mainly due to the low reproductive performance of the Romney at the time and a perception that there were better options. The composite ram breeding operations were generally large and often corporate concerns with very slick marketing programs that the family stud found it difficult to compete with. This was no doubt that the first cross significantly improved performance, but over the last ten years two things have changed. Firstly the Romney and Perendale and other breeds such as the Coopworth have responded incredibly well to the challenge and now have genetics that is vastly better than it was 20 years ago. Secondly many farmers found that after 5 or so years of using composites the performance in many area declined, including longevity and lamb survival amongst others. At the last censes Romney again was recorded as our dominate breed. While composites do and will continue to be an important part of our industry their influence has significantly declined from 10 years ago. The other big change has been the use of the Texel breed in New Zealand. Today virtually every composite and main breed has some Texel influence either officially or unofficially. This has added hardiness and improved meat production and yield in our maternal flocks. Where to from here?. New Zealand exports more lamb as a percentage of its total production than any other country and that won’t be changing in the foreseeable future. Europe, the UK and North America are our key markets and will continue to be important to the viability of sheep farming in New Zealand. However China in particular is significantly increasing its purchase of good quality lamb from New Zealand and this will only get stronger. Lamb is one of the most expensive proteins on the market but given that production is unlikely to increase and demand especially from Asia will certainly increase we would expect to see lamb prices at least maintain, if not increase over the next few years. The decline in sheep numbers in New Zealand has virtually stopped and I think we will see the present numbers be maintained for the next 10 years or so. Profitability of sheep farming is now generally good, after some pretty lean times, which will also help stabilise sheep numbers. I think we will see more specialised lamb finishers emerge on fringe dairy areas who have very small or no ewe flocks but focus solely on finishing lambs and cattle and are linked to meat processors. I can’t see feed lots taking off here but certainly high performance lamb finishers makes sense. This will mean that many ewe flocks won’t finish lambs but will sell at weaning and work closely with the lamb finisher. This type of system allows for quick identification of which lambs do best. In these systems it is likely you will see a much higher usage of terminal sires. The family stud has continued pressure on it from the big ram breeding operations, however the biggest threat is getting enough young kids interested in stud breeding, many young people look at the 17

financials and they don’t stack up compared with putting their energy in other parts of their business. My personal belief is that we will maintain at the present level as they offer some real advantages over the big operations especially that personal touch and often they have worked on certain traits that have real value rather than mass producing rams. Unfortunately we will continue to see both recording systems and gene technologies over sold. Breeding is all about balance and matching animals to perform their best and most profitability in a given environment. While we have significantly modified our environment we ignore the limitations it imposes on our sheep production systems at our peril. Genes make up less than 10% of the chromosome and we know very little about what the other 90%+ does other than its important. We also don’t know more than we do know about genes. Gene technologies do have a part to play but as part of an overall strategy and should never be a driving force unless in the disease resistance/tolerance area where sometimes it is necessary. I am a strong advocate of recording systems but they can’t breed rams, however they do give us some insight that some animals may perform better than others in a certain trait and a certain environment. The use of EBV’s needs to be encouraged but I think we all need to be careful when using index’s as they are only one interpretation of what a good animal is. There is no best animal or best breed simply some animals/breeds perform better in certain environments within the imposed environmental constraints and against whatever measurement you have imposed. Gene technologies will become more valuable to sheep farmers in the future and shouldn’t be ignored, but their research should be based on hard science that is well published and they should be able to explain it to you without all the scientific jargon exactly what the advantages are and finally it has to make financial sense. With many thanks to John Bates, Client Manager, Lincoln University Gene-Marker Laboratory for providing this article.


NSA REGIONAL COMMITTEES If any members would like to sit on their NSA regional committee, please let the Breed Secretary know. We currently have members sitting on the NSA South West Regional Committee and the NSA Scottish Regional Committee. The other available regions are: NSA Central Region NSA Cymru/Wales Region NSA Eastern Region NSA Marches Region NSA Northern Region NSA Northern Ireland Region NSA South East Region

OBITUARY It is with great sadness that I have to report the news that Mrs Jeanne Parkes died peacefully at home on 26th February, aged 85. She always enjoyed her involvement with the breed, being on Council and President of the Society in 1991. She particularly enjoyed judging the Flock Competition after Manby Farms Ltd won it and appreciated the beautiful west country scenery where most of the judging took place in that year. The journey from North Lincolnshire to the Dorchester Fair in an old style Land-Rover with a loaded Ifor Williams trailer was a challenge she relished for several Mays. There will be a Service of Thanksgiving in Binbrook Church at 12 noon on Saturday 21st April.



The Dorset Horn and Poll Dorset Sheep Breeders’ Association produce this newsletter in good faith and cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies contained therein.

Agriculture House Acland Road Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1EF Tel/Fax : 01305 262126 e-mail: Secretary: Marguerite Cowley 19

2018 CALENDAR OF EVENTS Early March Monday, 12th March

May Fair entry forms sent out (by post to those that have sold over the past 5 or 6 years – by e-mail to other members that I have an e-mail address for) 5th Annual NI Spring Show & Sale

Saturday, 7th April

Centurion Sale at Sedgemoor

Tuesday, 10th April

May Fair entries close at 12 noon sharp

Tuesday, 8th & Wednesday, 9thd May Middle May

May Fair, Exeter, Livestock Market

Middle May Wednesday, 30th May

Worcester Show & Sale entry forms sent out. (by post to those that have sold over the past 5 or 6 years – by e-mail to other members that have an e-mail address). Scotsheep, South Ayrshire

Saturday, 9th June

Northern Ireland National Show

Friday, 15th June

Worcester entries close at 12 Noon prompt

Friday, 29th June

Flock Competition entries close

Saturday, 30th June Saturday, 14h July

Llandovery Show & Sale For details contact: Clee, Tomkinson & Francis Tel: 01550 720440 e-mail: Worcester Show & Sale, Worcester Livestock Market

Wedneday, 18th July

National Sheep, Malvern

Monday, 30th July

46th NI Annual Premier Export Show & Sale For details contact: William Carson 07841 746705 e-mail: NI Club Family BBZ

Friday, 3rd August Friday, 10th August

Flock Competition entry forms sent out

Saturday, 11th August

7th Annual Hilltown EU Export Show & Sale For details contact: William Carson 07841 746705 e-mail: Gisburn Show & Sale

Friday, 17th August

Omagh Show & Sale

Friday, 31st August

Carlisle Show & Sale, Borderway Mart, Carlisle For details contact: Heather Pritchard, Harrison & Hetherington Tel: 01228 406230 e-mail: NSA South Sheep, Sussex

Saturday, 8th September Monday, 1st October Saturday, 3rd November

29th NI Autumn Sale For details contact: William Carson 07841 746705 e-mail: Annual General Meeting – Suffolk For details contact: The Breed Secretary 01305 262126 e-mail: 20

Dorset Sheep Newsletter March 2018  
Dorset Sheep Newsletter March 2018