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Mark & Lynne Exelby, The Hutts Farm, Ripon

Mixed organic farmers with 202ha split between two holdings near Ripon.

  • Alongside the sheep enterprise they run 80 mixed breed suckler herd, 24ha of combinable crops include winter wheat and spring oats, 20ha forage crop of Barley and Pea mix, under-sown with red clover
  • 400 North of England Mule ewes, lamb outside in May
  • All progeny are sold deadweight from August to February.
  • 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

Key finding: “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 first year we have been 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.” Mark Exelby.