Mark & Lynne Exelby, The Hutts Farm, Ripon
Mark Exelby – Hutts Farm, Ripon, Yorkshire
Mixed organic farmers with 190ha split between two holdings near Ripon. This family farm has been involved with RamCompare since 2017. Having made significant improvements in their sucker herd through performance recording and careful selection Mark and Lynne were motivated to join the project to explore possibilities for their commercial lamb enterprise through Terminal Sire genetic potential.
Alongside the sheep enterprise they run:
- 65 mixed breed suckler herd, with progeny taken through to finishing
- 24ha of combinable crops include winter wheat and spring oats
- 20ha forage crop of Barley and Pea mix, under-sown with red clover
Lambing outdoors in May during a four-week period after which ewes and lambs are managed as one group. With support from daughter Becky, lambs are tagged and fully recorded at birth and then weighed regularly from 6 weeks. Weaning takes place around 90 days and lambs are finished from grass in large consistent groups from September to December.
- 350 North of England Mule and composite ewes, lamb outside in May
- All progeny are sold deadweight from September to December.
- The objective is to sell 170-180% lambs per ewe, finished from red clover leys and supplemented with home-grown, organic, whole oats, killing out at R3L or better
Mark states “Using high index, performance recorded rams pays, irrespective of breed. I have been impressed by the high heritability of breeding traits passed from the rams to their offspring.”
“In the early years we were surprised at the large range in performance within each breed, this has clearly demonstrated to us the impossibility of judging how a ram will perform based purely by looks.”
“Genetic potential is key and EBVs are a useful guide to make informed decisions to increase ewe output on a commercial sheep enterprise.”