Progress and Profit

Bill and Ruth McColl run a240-acre organic unit at Nether Cambushinnie, Dunblane. Both are fully qualified vets based in Alloa and run 230 Lleyn cross Texel and Cheviot cross Texel ewes.

“The Lleyn and Cheviot cross Texel ewes are great mothers and easy to work with which is ideal at lambing time as we lamb everything outside.”

Having used Texel cross Beltex tups previously they found they were having to pull too many lambs which increased workload at lambing time and caused problems during the night.

In 2016 in a bid to reduce that problem the couple experimented with a Hampshire Down ram. Bill says “He was put to the test in his first year as he tupped 50+ ewes in one of the mildest winters and springs where grass was good and the ewes were fitter pre lambing,even with that, we didn’t have to pull any of the lambs.”

Tupped at the beginning of December to start lambing from 28th April on wards they get through the winter on minimal feeding with only a tonne of bucket feed licks. Their home bred ewes usually scan out at 192% to produce a 175% lamb crop at spring time.

“All the Hampshire Down cross lambs were easy lambed, vigorous at birth and quick to get to their feet.”

Just as important to Bill and Ruth they noticed they grew slightly quicker than the three-quarter Texel lambs and produced just as good a grade, with those finishing yielding mostly U and R grades. Bill and Ruth have a relatively low stocking density which contributes to the lambs rarely having to be wormed. They don’t have to be vaccinated or scratched for orf either, and with an abundance of grass, all lambs are sold finished off grass, keeping costs to a bare minimum.

“We’ve tried a number of breed and crosses over the years but I would have to say the Cheviot cross Texel suits our system best with the Hampshire Down being the preferred terminal sire.”

If you want a low input system, these are the breeds that have to be considered. They believe they have found a winner with the Hampshire Down, with the progeny and the tups easy to manage. After 2 very different lambing years and now 2 Hampshire Down tups, Bill and Ruth also think there is the potential for the Hampshire Down cross as a breeding female