Grass Finishing Big Plus Point for Cornish Farmer
The longevity of the rams was what attracted these Cornish Farmers to the breed and fast finishing from grass is what’s keeping them popular!
Ashley Rowe and his father Peter farm around 450 acres near Liskeard, Cornwall, 300 acres of which is grass and 150 arable. The main enterprise is the Trewint Herd of pedigree South Devon cattle which numbers 145 pedigree breeding females plus followers. Female progeny are either retained or sold for breeding. The top 8/10 males are sold as breeding bulls and the remainder finished as intensive bull beef using the farms homegrown cereals. The largest portion of the cereals are sold.
The sheep flock consists of Suffolk mules that are lambed at the end of January into February and usually scan at around 185%. Up until recently The Rowes have run around 250 ewes but have reduced that down to 150 to allow for the cattle numbers to increase.
Previously continentals were the ram of choice but with many of them going lame or not lasting more than a season, Ashley was looking for something with more hardiness and longevity. Having native cattle, they were keen to try a native ram and they were persuaded to buy two Hampshire rams from Adrian Rundle, Treworthal Flock at Newquay who also runs a pedigree South Devon Herd.
‘This is the third crop of lambs from the Hampshire rams and they are still fighting fit’ said Ashley. ‘We used Texel and Hampshire rams in equal number in the first year and found three quarters of the lambs were black so they were doing more than their fair share too’
With a combination of a reduction in flock size and working just Hampshire rams this year, it is the first time they have not creep fed the lambs and Ashley is delighted with how quickly they have finished. ‘A kind February and availability of new leys had a part to play’ Ashley told us.
Fat lambs are sold direct to the abattoir and whilst the Hampshire’s don’t all grade quite as well as the continentals, Ashley feels the daily live weight gain from grass far outweighs that and also the longevity of the rams is a big plus for them too.