The sheep flock
Our flock consists of about 30 ewes, two rams, and for part of the year up to 50 lambs. The ewes are Blue-faced Leicester crosses, and our latest ram is a Zwartble, whose daughters are currently with a Speckle-faced Beulah ram. Nearly all our sheep were born here. They have green numbered tags, and we record anything we do to them in our book. Many of them are old friends now, and are easily recognisable.
The lambs, especially those from the Zwartble ram, are quick growing and last year achieved weights of up to 27 kg dead weight by late June. This year 30 of our lambs are black, showing their Zwartble parentage. Some have white markings on their heads and the tips of their tails (where these have been left long). The ewe lambs should make excellent breeding stock.
Last year most of our lambs went to our nearest abattoir which has an organic line and sells to a major supermarket. We decided to use the abattoir on our doorstep to minimise distances travelled and stress. However if legislation permitted, we would prefer to have our lambs killed on the farm and sold to local customers. Better still, we are keen to sell our ewe lambs as breeding animals to other smallholders. We currently have 15 beautiful black ewe lambs available for collection now.
A proportion of our lambs are kept back as ‘hoggetts’, to be eaten at a year old. We have found that they have most flavour at this stage, combining the sweetness and succulence of lamb with the flavour and character of mutton.
The wool from both Blue-faced Leicester and Zwartble lines is of high quality, and we would like to develop this natural product for the organic pure wool market. To do this we have been supplying small numbers of coloured and white fleeces to Chris King at Garthenor Organic Pure Wool www.organicpurewool.co.uk. Chris has done much to develop the standards for organic pure wool, is a keen supporter of the Soil Association and is rigorous in maintaining the high standards that underpin confidence in all things organic. There is also now an annual festival of natural fibres and fibre products in Wales which has useful contacts and information on its website www.wonderwoolwales.co.uk.