Skip to the content

Thistleyhaugh Farm - Flock profitability influenced by speed of growth and carcase weight

The Nelless family are based in Morpeth, Northumberland, where brothers Duncan and Angus run the family farm. Duncan has been heavily involved in the RamCompare project since 2015 and uses his large pedigree Lleyn flock to test performance recorded terminal sires. Lambing takes place in March/April and lambs are quickly tuned out onto red clover rich lays, where lambs achieve high growth rates from forage.

The 2022 lamb crop achieved an impressive speed of finishing with a farm average of 103 days from birth to slaughter, five days quicker than the previous year - considering the lack of grass later in the season, this proved to be extremely beneficial and having lambs away quickly conserved forage supplies for ewes.

However, carcase weight had the biggest variation on income in this fast-finishing flock, rams with superior Carcase Weight EBVs achieved top weights in the abattoir and achieved greater prices compared with lower performing rams as highlighted in the graph below.

From the rams on test at Thistleyhaugh last season, a Charollais ram 19WGH02085 from the Redhill flock bred by Jamie Wild stood out, further reducing days to slaughter to an average of 95 days, not only did these lambs finish quickest more than 47% of the lambs achieved a E or U grade carcase at the abattoir.

Another to performing sire was a Suffolk ram from the Lavendon flock, Y51:19:03876, ranking within the top 5% of the breed based on Terminal Sire Index. This ram excelled for Carcase Weight EBV, and this was rewarded through top prices paid for progeny.

Key message
Using Signet’s breeding values to select rams with top growth and carcase traits excel in this commercial setting.