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Handbanktexels

Handbanktexels

 

2017 Update 

                This year’s lamb crop have been largely out of some of last year’s sires plus another tup  that we have used in the past (please see 2016 and 2014 updates for their details):- 

  • Goldies Supreme (GJG11 00397)

  • Handbank Valegro (PRH14 00475)

  • Handbank Westwood (PRH15 00584)

  • Handbank Will.i.am (PRH15 00585)

  • Handbank Willy Wonka (PRH15 00588) 

We have had some good lambs out of them again - with nearly 2/3 of the flock predicted to be in the top 1% of the Signet recording scheme – but we are yet to receive the final analysis, following the 21-wk. scan weights, etc.  (Once again, we took some ram lambs to be CT scanned, all of which data will be included in the final results.) 

            It’s been a busy year again, and unfortunately, we have had little opportunity for showing this time – life just seems to get in the way! – but we are now preparing for the sale season once more, closely followed by the breeding season.

September, 2016        

         Most of the shearling rams have now been sold, and we were lucky enough to win 3rd. prize in the Performance Recorded shearling ram class at Skipton.  Our last few rams will be sold at the Bakewell Ram Fair this Saturday, 1st. October, so do come and see us there.

2016 Update

                This is the first up-date since 2014.  2015 was a very difficult year for us all as Bob was ill for most of the year and sadly died in August.  Nevertheless, the family farm continues to run, and we are still trying to bring about improvements each year.

            For the breeding season last September, we had to make use of rams already on the farm as we’d had no time to do any forward planning.  They were all tups we had bred by different sires and blood-lines.  They were:-

  • Handbank Utica (PRH13 00310) – for details see 2014 update.

  • Handbank Valegro (PRH14 00475)

  • Handbank Whizz-Kid (PRH15 00556)

  • Handbank Westwood (PRH15 00584)

  • Handbank Will.i.am (PRH15 00585)

  • Handbank Willy Wonka (PRH15 00588)

Valegro was a son of Meon Down U R The One (FTD13 01178) and has an index of 392.  Whizz-Kid was a son of Corriecravie Union Pacific (JTC13 00449) and has an index of 415, and will be sold at Builth Wells in September.

Westwood was a son of Handbank Valkyrie (PRH14 00410) and has an index of 479, and Will.i.am and Willy Wonka were both sons of Valegro and have indexes of 447 and 320 respectively.

            Although we didn’t bring any new blood into the flock this time, our overall indexes don’t appear to have slipped too much and we have still achieved 22 ram lambs in the top 1% of the Signet recording scheme, one of which stood at no. 12 in the whole scheme with an index of 507.

            In addition to selling rams at Builth Wells, we are also selling at the NATSB sale at Skipton again in September; but as usual, potential buyers are always welcome (by arrangement) to come and see what we have for sale, with no pressure to buy.

Shows

            We had little opportunity for showing last year, but have been to three shows so far this year.  At Honley Show we had the Reserve Champion Texel; at Harden Moss we had the Champion Texel and at Emley Show we had the Champion Texel and Reserve Supreme Champion. 

In addition, Clara and Ella both won their Young Handler classes at Honley Show and Ella went on to win Champion Young Handler at both Honley and Emley Shows.  (They also did most of the showing for us in the main classes – to help out the older generations!)

2014 Update

            Last year, we sold most of our rams through the auction ring, 6 being sold at the NATSB sale at Skipton, one of them, Handbank Titan fetching a pleasing 1500gns.  The following week we sold 9 at the NSA Ram Sale at Builth Wells, a further 3 at the Multi-Breed sale at Skipton in October, and the remaining 6 at the Bakewell Ram Sale.  (For some reason, we sold more ewe lambs and shearling ewes from home, and sold others at the NATSB in-lamb sale in December.)

            At the end of September 2013, we A.I.’d a number of ewes to:-

  • Goldies Supreme (GJG11 00397)
  • Alwent Unbeatable (NTA13 00730)

Unbeatable is actually a son of Supreme and was bought at the Carlisle Sale.  Both have good gigots, and Supreme is theTexelbreed leader for gigot EBV.  They have both produced good lambs, and one of them (PRH14 00410) has a gigot EBV almost as good as his father’s, and we shall use him this year.

            In addition to these, we also used our senior stock sire:-

  • Handbank Super Nova (PRH11 00114)

(For his details, please see the up-date for 2012.)

  • Handbank Utica (PRH13 00310)
  • Handbank Up The Junction (PRH13 00336)

Utica is a son of Avon Vale Real Deal and was our highest index lamb last year, and now stands 5th. in the Signet Top Stock Sires List with an index of 480, and will be used again this year.  Up The Junction is a son of Cambwell Taurus, has an index of 387 and will be sold at Builth Wells this September.

            In January, we went to Carlisle for the dispersal of Arnold Park’s Drinkstone flock and purchased an in-lamb shearling ewe who produced a ram lamb (PRH14 00458) by Boghouse Untouchable, who is our highest index ram lamb for this year with an index of 471, and he too will be used in the flock this autumn. 

Shows

            Our last show in 2013 was Penistone, and we finished on a high note with both Champion and Reserve.  Both our grand-daughters did well in the Young Handler Classes, Clara coming 2nd. in the seniors and Ella coming 1st. in the juniors. This year they have gone on to do well in both local shows and at Gt. Yorkshire Show – the younger generation are showing us the way!

            Our entry in the carcase competition at GYS gained 4th. prize and a nice comment from the judge saying “Liveweight buyers like lambs that convert weight similar to this” – it had a killing out % of 59.1.

Publicity

            This year we learned from Signet that we had been placed joint Runners-Up out of all Texel recorded flocks for having made the most genetic progress in the year (2013).  Sam Boon also informed us, following the July BLUP run this time, that “the Handbank Flock is the top flock for Gigot Muscularity EBV in the country……. (according to Signet – so it must be true!)”.

2013 Update

Last year, as in previous years, we sold a number of rams from home, and buyers came from Lancashire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, as well as locally in South Yorkshire. All but one were previous customers. (One of them said he hadn't been back since buying a tup from us 7 years ago, because it had only just died!)

We also took shearling rams to Skipton and to Builth Wells once more, which we intend doing this year also. In addition we sold 5 in-lamb shearlings and 5 ewe lambs at the NATSB Sale at Skipton in December.

At the end of September 2012, we put about 50 ewes to the ram, using (by AI):-

Avon Vale Real Deal (MQZ10 00044)East Middle Superior (SCE11 00680)

Both the above sires are included in the Signet Sire Linkage Programme and both have high genetic merit, both in terms of growth EBV's and also in muscle depth EBV's. We also used by AI:-

Cambwell Taurus (LTC12 01035) who was highly placed in the Recorded Ram Lamb class at the Royal Highland Show, 2012 and also won the Recorded Ram Lamb class at Lanark Sale in August 2012.

In addition to these, we also used our stock sires:-

Stonebridge Stevie's Wonder (RSS11 00092) plusHandbank Super Nova (PRH11 00114) and Handbank Prince Charming (PRH09 813).

(For details of these tups, please see the update for 2012.)

Our lambing went alright, in spite of the severe weather. (The main problem seemed to be thawing out frozen pipes and drinkers - it's at times like this you find out just how much a lactating ewe drinks!) There were no caesareans, and thankfully no incidence of Schmallenberg.

Shows

2012 proved a wash-out for a number of shows, including Honley, Harden Moss, and of course, Gt. Yorkshire only lasted one day. Instead, our grand-daughters entered 3 Young Handlers Competitions later in the season, having spent hours training their sheep to walk on a halter. They both did well and their enthusiasm continued this season, where some friendly rivalry has again been evident.

At Honley Show this year - on a perfect summer's day - we were 1st. & 2nd. in both ewe lamb and ram lamb classes and 1st. in the group. 13 - year old Clara came 2nd. in the senior Young Handler Class, and her 8 - year old sister Ella was placed 1st. in the Juniors and went on to take the Championship and a silver cup.

Two weeks later, we ventured up to Harden Moss near Holmfirth. What a bleak and exposed spot. It rained (horizontally) with a 50m.p.h. gale! In spite of the appalling weather, Joe, our eldest son, held the Reserve Champion with a shearling ram. His daughter Clara again came 2nd. in the Young Handler Senior section and Ella did it again! - 1st. in the Juniors and a huge silver cup to take home.

Then at Gt. Yorks. Show, we entered the carcase competition as usual and this time were placed 4th. in the heavyweight class.

Publicity

Joanne Pugh, Senior Communications Officer at National Sheep Association visited us in early April to write an article for The Sheep Farmer magazine. She was writing a series of articles about the Regional Chairpersons for NSA and as Bob has been the Chairman for Central Region (on and off) since 2001, she wanted to find out about his "Farming Story". The article appeared in the May/June edition.

Also, the RABI Calendar this year featured a picture of our ram lambs, donated by Adrian Legge and taken when he visited on behalf of Farmers Guardian last year. (You can see it on the July page.)

Results

Our 8 - week weights were quite good, considering the very poor forage we made in the wet summer of 2012 and the extreme weather conditions in March/April with the weeks of biting easterly winds which delayed grass growth by at least five weeks compared with last year.

We did our 21 - week weighing and ultra sound scanning in early July and the following week took 10 ram lambs to the CT scanner at Sutton Bonington. Our results from the BLUP run published in early August were pleasing and our "High Five" all had indexes between 419 and 472, our best ram lamb - PRH13 00310 - standing 6th. in the entire scheme. Also, our stock sire - Handbank Super Nova - stood 9th. in the Top Stock Sires List with the highest reading for muscle depth EBV of 7.65.

As usual, people are welcome to contact us for information and are always welcome to visit.

2012 Update

High prices for cull ewes and lambs helped to maintain confidence in the sheep industry, though increased prices for replacement females meant that commercial sheep farmers were reluctant to pay high prices for rams last autumn., and our sales at Builth Wells were not helped by being 3rd. from the end in the catalogue, going into the ring at 5.0.p.m. We also sold rams at Skipton - some of which were bought by old friends who have stayed with us for years - and later sold at Bakewell and our "local" sheep fair at Bretton Mill. As in previous years, we sold a number of sheep off farm, to buyers from Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and also from closer to home.

One sale we were particularly proud of was Handbank Rob Roy (son of Cambwell Laird) who was sold to a Dutch Texel breeder. (This seemed a bit like "coals to Newcastle", since Texels had originated in Holland!) The buyer Carla, and her father Theo, had visited a number of Texel flocks and they bought quite a few, which were collected by a specialist haulier who went with their load by ferry from Dover and back to Holland, via France and Belgium. Rob Roy had been used as a lamb and was in the Signet top stock sires list, and we have since heard from Carla that he has done his job very well.

Another couple of sales that we were delighted with were our highest index ram lamb (index 414) and our second highest (index 400) to fellow Yorkshire Texel Breeders, and committed Signet recorders, Doug Jewitt from Scarborough and Jack Lucas from Driffield.

The Sires we used in September were:-

Stonebridge Stevie's Wonder (RSS11 00092). This smart lengthy son of Allanfauld Rockafella, as well as having a growth EBV in the top 5%, has a good shape, tight jacket - and the obligatory black nose!Handbank Super Nova (PRH11 00114). As well as having EBV's in the top 5% for both 8 weeks and 21 weeks, his main attraction is his massive muscle depth EBV of 6.13, which puts him comfortably in the top 1% of the scheme.Handbank Scimitar (PRH11 00 106). This lamb's growth EBV's for both 8 weeks and 21 weeks are in the top 1%, and is in the top 5% for muscle depth EBV.Handbank Prince Charming (PRH09 813). This year we have used him as a sweeper - for his details, see 2011 update.

Shows

We only entered two shows in 2011 but did well at both. At Honley Show in June, we won the Texel Championship, taking home the Melvyn Carr salver for best Texel Ram, which we had previously won in 2009 and 2003.

Penistone Show in September clashed with a friend's birthday celebrations, so our son Joe and his family took the sheep and ended up winning the Texel Championship and went on to win Best in Show, with a Cambwell Laird sired shearling ewe. Our two grand-daughters held the 3rd. and 4th. prize ewe lambs, so this time, 7 year old Ella got the prize money! (It had been such a successful day for the family that Bob said we ought to stay away more often!)

Female Sales

In September, we took some shearling ewes to the Leyburn Sale and one of them was made Reserve Champion, which helped to boost their prices.

Then at the beginning of December, Bob and I and our 12-year old grand-daughter Clara took two ewe lambs to the Texel Pedigree Female sale at Skipton, and were lucky enough to be placed 1st. and 3rd. It was a bitterly cold day, so it was agreed we wouldn't wear white coats. Clara, wearing bright pink wellies, beat her Grandpa to the 1st. prize spot! (see gallery)

Publicity

In August, the Farmers Guardian ran a feature about the flock, focusing on the feeding and management of a performance recorded flock. Angela Calvert, now the senior sales and livestock reporter for FG, had learned that Bob was to take part in a debate at Sheep Breeders Round Table in November, arguing that "Rams cannot be reared off grass alone". Adrian Legge took some great photos, some of which will be put on our web-site.

Yorkshire Post featured us in Farm of the Week in their Country Section at the end of February this year, as they wanted to write about a farm which had run a Maedi Visna free flock for over 20 years. For the first time, there is to be some research into the prevalence of Maedi Visna in commercial flocks, and YP wanted to look into the costs involved in becoming an accredited flock, including maintaining safe boundaries. Unfortunately, they chose the wettest day in the month to visit, but in spite of this, the photos came out well. (See gallery section.)

Results

We await the data from our 8-week weights, and have already booked to go to the CT scanner at Sutton Bonington in July. This information will be included in the final results following the 21-weights and ultra sound scanning. (Full results will be available following the BLUP run in August.) As usual, people are welcome to contact us for information and are always welcome to visit.

2011 Update

For most sheep farmers this year, prices have not only been maintained but have continued to rise, and recorded stock have been particularly sought after. Our average at the NSA Ram Sale at Builth Wells in September showed a marked increase, and our new customer from Herefordshire bought a further 5 shearling rams. We have of course continued to sell from home and supplied both existing customers as well as selling 2 shearling rams to a new customer from West Yorkshire.

The 2010 lamb crop were scanned in mid-July and showed little overall change from the previous year, except there was an increase in muscle depth EBV and gigot EBV, putting them both in the top 5% of the scheme.

The Sires we used in September were:-

Handbank Madoc (PRH06 435). He came 10th. in the Top Stock Sires List for 2009 with an index of 384 and is still in the top 1% of the scheme. (See previous information in 2010 update.)Handbank Prince Charming (PRH09 813). Index 271. His eye muscle was 40.3 mm., and his gigot EBV of 6.79 puts him comfortably in the top 1%.Beeford Pimpernel (CBS09 336). Index 324, scan weight EBV 11.44, muscle depth 4.3, fat EBV -0.36, gigot EBV 5.48. (His index falls in the top 5% of the scheme and most of his EBV's lie in the top1% or 5%).

We also tried two ram lambs of our own breeding, which were:-

Handbank Rob Roy (PRH10 00021), index 389, scan weight EBV 13.22, muscle depth EBV 3.16, fat depth EBV 0.14, gigot EBV 8.41. (His index, scan weight and gigot are all in the top 1%)Handbank Rawhide (PRH10 00074), index 374, scan weight EBV 14.76, muscle depth 2.78, fat depth EBV -0.05, gigot EBV 6.28. (His index, scan weight and gigot are all in the top 1%)

Having described the winter of 2009/10 as brutal, we had an even more harsh winter in 2010/11 and most of our stock were away on a dairy farm in a nearby village. We were obliged to carry bales of hay on our backs across fields of hard-packed frozen snow for a number of weeks. Initially, Anne was in hospital again---this time for 2 replacement hips---and was marooned there for an extra day till the Land Rover could be dug out! Despite temperatures of -15C and 15" deep snow, the ewes (and Anne!) have proved remarkably resilient. Surprisingly, the dry Spring and consequent shortage of grass does not seem to have impaired growth or milking ability and the 8 - week weight EBV's have shown an improvement on last year. Our 21 - week weights and ultra-sound scanning are booked for early July, and the following week we shall take 6 ram lambs to the CT scanner at Sutton Bonington once more. (Full results will be available following the BLUP run in August.)

Last year, we didn't do a lot of showing due to other family commitments, but this year we have started well by being placed 1st. in three classes at Honley Show and went on to win Best Texel Male and then Texel Champion. (Sorry, forgot to take my camera!)

2010 Update

Like most sheep farmers last year, we had a good year in terms of prices, doing particularly well at both Skipton and Builth Wells, where our averages were well up on previous years. In private sales, we were pleased to supply a new customer on a large estate in Herefordshire with 5 shearling rams, and our regulars closer to home continued to support us.

The 2009 lamb crop were scanned at the beginning of July and the trend is definitely upwards in nearly all areas, especially in scan weight EBV, gigot EBV and our overall average index has moved up from 266 to 295, putting us comfortably in the top 5% of recorded Texel flocks. (After the August BLUP run we will add the 2010 details.)

Later in July 2009, at Great Yorkshire Show, we took 2 ram lambs and one lamb for the carcase competition. We managed a 5th. prize in the carcase competition, 3rd. prize in the Recorded Ram Lamb class, and our grand-daughter Clara won the Under 10 Young Handler class with the other ram lamb. The 3rd. prize ram lamb, Handbank Prince Charming (PRH09 813) has been retained in the flock and semen has been collected from him, some of which is going to Norway later this year. (He was named by our grand-daughter!) The rams we chose to use at AI this time were:-

Cambwell Laird, LTC05 507. Index 335 (accuracy 99%). Laird has 498 progeny in 40 different flocks.Fimber Machismo, LJF06 601. Index 290 (used the previous year also).Handbank Prince Charming, PRH09 813. Index 287. His eye muscle was 40.3 mm., and his gigot EBV of 7.05 puts him comfortably in the top 1%.

In addition to using one of our own stock sires, Handbank Kilwillie PRH04 265 we also borrowed a lamb from Jack Lucas, as a sweeper. His details are:-

Fimber Phantom Jet, LJF09 715. Index 342 (we have 16 of his progeny in the flock)

Since the last write-up, apart from going through the brutal winter that most sheep farmers suffered, we have also had other things happening. Anne went into hospital in October to have two knee replacements, which meant that she spent more time indoors at lambing time than usual (helping in other ways such as record-keeping and cooking for the workers!). However, at lambing time this year, in contrast to last year's multitude of singles, we had many more twins and overall a much better lambing percentage. Despite the bad weather and poor grass levels this spring, the lambs have grown well and the 8-week and 21-week weights have been pleasing. This week we took 6 lambs to be CT scanned at Sutton Bonington, and their results will be incorporated into the first BLUP run in wk. beginning 2nd. August.

One piece of news that is very gratifying is that a ram we sold as a shearling in 2007 to a Lancashire vet, Norman Johnson, has been selected for the EBLEX Ram Linkage Programme for 2010.

He is Handbank Madoc (PRH06 435). He came 10th. in the Top Stock Sires List for 2009 with an index of 384 and is in the top 1% of the scheme.

2009 Update

Although last year was a difficult year once again for most sheep producers, with the threat of Bluetongue hanging over the industry once more, for us it meant that we succeeded in selling the majority of our shearling rams from home, and six of the seven rams entered for Builth were sold to one buyer. So for the first time in many years, we did not make the long trip to Powys for the Builth Wells sale. This made preparing for AI (and not having to pull sponges at 5.0 a.m. when you've just got back from Builth @ midnight!) so much easier. The rams we chose to use at AI were:-

Lumbylaw Malton, ORL06 083. Index 427. This ram is the highest placed stock sire in the breed and has a huge scan weight EBV (16.17) and also an excellent gigot EBV (8.02)Fimber Machismo, LJF06 601. Index 301. This ram was purchased from Jack Lucas at the Skipton sale in September, '08, partly for his figures and carcase quality but also for his breed characteristics.Handbank Jack the Lad, PRH03 014. Index 302. Jack now has 435 progeny in 21 flocks in UK (as at August '08). He has an accuracy figure of 99, the highest possible, and his consistency of performance justifies our continuing to use him, though now we can only put him to a limited number of females.

We also used one of our stock sires, Handbank Kilwillie, PRH 04 265, along with two of our own ram lambs to act as sweepers. The ram lambs were:-

Handbank Oliver, PRH08 682. Index 388. This was our highest placed ram lamb, who was also placed 8th. in the National Texel Breeding Evaluation for 2008. His scan weight EBV is 15.44.Handbank Orlando, PRH08 708. Index 327. His muscle depth EBV of 3.88 puts him in the top 1% of the evaluation.

Last autumn, we sold more females than in previous years. This included 9 shearling ewes going to a new breeder in County Durham, three to a local breeder, a group of 21 ewes and shearlings, plus 5 ewe lambs, to another Sheffield sheep producer, and 10 ewe lambs to Leyburn Sale. In addition, we sold 4 aged ewes and 9 ewe lambs at the Skipton Female Sale in December, where we were also lucky enough to win 1st.and 2nd. prize in the ewe lamb class.

The reason for this major reduction was in order to make room for the ponies which our son Joe and his wife Alex, and their two young daughters have brought with them when moving up to South Yorkshire just before Christmas. They now live in the farmhouse, and we---the old folks---live in a barn conversion on the farm (specially designed for the zimmer frame era!)

Lambing started as usual around Valentine's Day, but this year it was much easier with the extra help around. Having grumbled last year about having too many triplets, this year we seem to have had more than our fair share of singles---something many other breeders commented on, and which we think may relate to the unusually wet, wintry weather last autumn. Nevertheless, the ones we have are looking good, particularly in terms of conformation and tight skins. We'll wait to see the results after the 21-week scan and will include information about these results later in the summer. (We have only recently submitted the 8-week weights). This year for the first time there will be a mobile CT scanner at Sutton Bonington, near Nottingham and we hope to take our five best ram lambs there at the end of July.

As regards flock health, every sheep on the farm had a Bluetongue jab at the end of March and all the lambs are now in the Heptavac P+ system. We also put the lambs through the foot-bath as a protection against scald, and the shearling rams and ewes are being brought into the Footvax system again.

Background Information

Since first moving to the farm in 1982, Bob and Anne Payne have been breeding Texels. We first became interested in breed improvement in 1986 when we recorded through the "within flock" Sheep-breeder programme with MLC, and later joined the "across flock" Elite Texel Sires programme run by Signet.

We are committed to producing good quality shearling rams and ram lambs which not only have good conformation, but also have good growth rates and muscle depths. These will then be capable of producing prime lambs for commercial sheep farmers, who always need to command the best prices available.

Over the years, we have selected our replacements carefully and are now at a stage where the flock is maintaining a greater consistency, and the results show a regular flow of rams with high EBV's for both growth and muscle. Our ram, Handbank Jack the Lad, was selected as a Reference Sire with the old ETS in 2003 and the following year was a recommended sire for the newly formed Recorded Texels. At present he has 435 progeny in 21 flocks across England, Wales and Scotland, but he also has sons and daughters in Minnesota USA, Belgium and Northern Ireland. (The details of some of his sons can be seen in the tables below.)

We sell our tups mainly at the Skipton, Builth Wells and Bakewell ram sales, but also we sell some directly from the farm. We welcome visitors who want to come and see them, and they are under no obligation to buy. Normally, it is not our intention to sell ram lambs as commercial farmers choose shearling rams because they have more size and scope, but if visitors come looking for ram lambs, we will sell them. (In addition, we have shearling ewes for sale.)

In 2007, Foot and Mouth prevented many sales from taking place, but a number of buyers visited the farm and viewed rams. Once selected, we kept their rams until movement restrictions were lifted.

2008 Up-date

Last year, as usual, the sale season coincided with the start of the breeding season, and September was a very busy month. The rams we chose to use at AI were:-

East Middle le Coq d'Or, SCE 05 055. Index: 345. This ram had the highest EBV for muscle depth in 2005 in the Texel breed.Wollascott Maestro II, WSW 06 246. Index: 322. This ram weighed 78kg. at 157 days and an actual muscle depth of 39.9mm. (highest in 2006).Lumbylaw Madras, ORL 06 032. Index: 390. This ram has an exceptional muscularity EBV of 7.81.

We also used our own stock sires on some ewes, and later used them as sweepers, along with two of our own ram lambs. (This helps us to achieve a tighter lambing pattern.)

When we scanned at the end of November, we were alarmed to find we had no less than 15 sets of triplets, and 3 sets of quads. You can have too much of a good thing! Winter was kind to us but Spring was less so, with too much cold and rain and slow grass growth. The grass eventually arrived and the 8-week weights were very encouraging.

More recently, we did our 21-week weighings and ultra-sonic scanning and have had some pleasing results, particularly with growth rates. The high EBV's for growth seem to be coming through to this year's lamb crop. Due to movement restrictions relating to Bluetongue regulations, we were unable to send any lambs to Edinburgh for CT scanning, but hope to do so again next year. Nevertheless, we have learned that one of our ram lambs has been placed 8th. out of all recorded Texel ram lambs this year with an index of 388. In addition, there are a further 6 ram lambs with an index of 320+.

Publicity

Earlier in the year, Innovis asked us to write an article for their Semen Catalogue on why we had found the use of AI valuable to our flock. The following is a selection of some of the details:-

"In general terms however, using AI has meant that we have been able to gain access to semen from rams acknowledged to be genetically superior at a price that is more accessible to us, and consequently we have seen significant improvements in terms of growth rate and muscle depth over the years. As a result, our rams have been selected to take part in a number of trials in the past, the most recent being:-

the Rose County trial in conjunction with EBLEX, ADS and Sainsbury's

the CST Ram Marketing group's project in conjunction with Welsh Country Foods and ASDA, called Making Quality Pay, the final results of which are currently being analysed, prior to publication.

In addition, our genetic improvements have meant that we have been able to sell semen from our own ram, Jack the Lad. His progeny now number 400 in 19 flocks in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but he also has progeny in Minnesota, USA and in Belgium. (Unfortunately, some of his rams died last year in the Bluetongue outbreak in Belgium. This is also a timely and sobering reminder that it is good policy to freeze semen from any stock sires felt to have high genetic merit.)

The attached graph, prepared for us by Sam Boon of Signet, shows the improvements expressed in terms of economic benefits. He also writes "In 10 years you have increased the value of Handbank Texel sired lambs by £1.71p. per lamb dropped. Assuming one of your Texel rams leaves 75 lambs per year for 3 years, this is an extra £385 per ram over their working lifetime. This more than justifies a commercial producer's investment in a Handbank recorded Texel ram. Also, in 2007 nearly 75% of Handbank ram lambs earned a coveted Gold EBLEX Order of Merit, indicating their genetic merit was within the top 10% of the Texel breed."

Performance recording