Despite having sold our consignment in advance of the sale, today was a great day for the Kimbolton flock at the Shropshire & Borders Texel Club sale at Welshpool as Kimbolton Frisky was tapped out as Reserve Champion by judge Andrew Reed in the pre sale showing.
Frisky is a powerful son of Kimbolton Eagle and was the top priced ram lamb sold at the Shropshire & Borders Texel Club sale at Shrewsbury in 2022. He was purchased by the Pryce family for their Caereinion flock and was successfully used as a ram lamb.
Speaking after the sale Paul said ” Its great to see Kimbolton breeding featuring in not only progressive commercial flocks, but also in discerning pedigree flocks too. Cefin has enjoyed success with Kimbolton genetics selling to 8,000gn, plus it was great to see the 24,000gn champion at the NSA Builth sale this year from Andrew Reed also had Kimbolton in the back pedigree too.”
As well as being busy with sales this year, of course the groundwork goes into planning the 2024 lamb crop.
Paul has been busy evaluating ram choices that will enhance commercial traits of interest that support the flocks breeding objectives and the following rams will be used.
Kimbolton Great Shape is a naturally born twin by Kimbolton Dynamite (who is by 40,000gn Garngour Alabama). Great Shape’s dam is by the 8,000gn Duhonw ram who was NSA champion in 2017. He has style and a serious carcass being the lamb who had the best killing out percentage of all Texel lambs CT scanned in 2023 (52.5%). He is pictured below the day before he won his class at Tenbury Show.
Kimbolton Glorious Gigots is another naturally born twin who is a block of a lamb. He is by Kimbolton Forever Ready who is a muscular son of Wallington Special Brew who has produced serious gigots in all his progeny (hence the name!). On the dam side is Kimbolton Yeoman who has bred well for a number of flocks. He too has been through the CT scanner and carries more carcass fat than the other choices so will be used to balance ewes who are leaner.
Kimbolton Gladiator is a very long naturally born twin by Kimbolton Commander who has produced some tremendous fast growing, shapely sheep for us. Gladiators dam is by 7,000gn Hilltop Cobra who has done a great job for us.
Also back by popular demand is Kimbolton Dynamite who has become Garngour Alabama’s highest index son (in the August evaluation run he was the sixth highest stock sire in the breed).
Also we are excited to introduce Highcraigs Feldspar who is a very interesting addition to the breeding programme. A Glenway Dynasty son out of a the most successful female line in the Highcraigs flock which goes back to some tremendous Drinkstone breeding. We are grateful to Duncan MacNiven for allowing us the opportunity to try him out and we look forward to seeing the results.
Sale season is well underway and demand has been humbling with both new and repeat buyers seeking out Kimbolton genetics to add to their flocks.
What is particularly pleasing is listening to stories from existing customers of lambs finishing faster with better shape and increased weights (particularly important for live sales this year). All this drives more efficient production by getting lambs off their farms faster which is a key driver for profit!
Shearling rams have all been sold now but we still have a limited selection of high index ram lambs for sale direct from the farm as well as some lovely breeding females who would make good additions to an existing flock or a nice starter flock.
As always please go to the “For Sale” page to download the latest list of animals for sale. Also listed are the semen choices that we can offer too if you are thinking of using AI.
If you are unsure about what to do, just give Paul a call and he will be happy to talk things through to make sure you get the right outcome for your breeding objectives.
Once of the key benchmarking tools that are used extensively to manage our flock are regular measurements of weight and carcass quality.
Our regime of data collection starts with recording the birth weight within 24 hours (measuring straight after birth is too messy!), this is applied consistently each year to ensure year on year comparisons can be made.
Then following birth the lambs are weighed each time they are handled, so the next weights are done when they receive their Ovipast vaccination around four weeks of age. As this routine is repeated we begin to build up a picture of Daily Live Weight Gain which we can review in our farm software. Whilst this is crude as it doesn’t take into account birth/rear type (single/twin/triplet), it does provide an early indication of growth rates and allow actions to be taken on any poor performers. This allows decisions to be made about removing any lambs who mothers might be struggling to rear multiples, they can then be marked for culling.
Weigh data is then submitted to The Texel Society via its iTexel platform so that it can be evaluated in a statistical model that allows an “apples and apples” comparison between sheep and also between flocks and production systems.
Additional data is added following ultrasound scanning for muscle depth and backfat and then the “best” five ram lambs are CT scanned with this data also being included within the evaluations.
Once evaluated we then have reasonably accurate information to make our breeding decisions as we know about carcass composition and growth.
Obviously technology improves all the time and we are excited about the prospect of using genomics in the next couple of years to improve accuracy even further, particularly on ram lambs.
The pictures below show some of the ram lambs on their day out to the CT scanner.
Its always pleasing to see purchasers enjoying success with our genetics and we were therefore delighted to see Kimbolton Commander lambs being awarded Supreme Champion and Reserve Champion in the Texel section of the MacKenzie A&P show.
2023 was a good lambing for us following a record scanning percentage. There are some exciting prospective lambs on the ground and we look forward to seeing how they perform in the coming months as they grow and mature.
Selecting for ease of lambing and good maternal traits is something we have done since the start of the flock and we have found now the families that are working well and removed those that don’t. Obviously we are dealing with nature and something unexpected always happens!
We have tested our colostrum for the last few years using a Brix refractometer that was bought cheaply on Amazon. This quickly shows colostrum quality and is a useful indicator of if ewe nutrition and is directly correlated to lamb survival. Also over the last three years we have taken the opportunity to tube every lamb with colostrum as soon as possible after it is born. This has significantly reduced early losses and also meant that lambs have had better early growth. Equally importantly it has provided peace of mind and meant that we can leave the lamb that was born before bed confidently knowing it has had milk.
At this time of the year, focus moves onto lambing and making sure as many risk are dealt with in advance.
Lots of cleaning of pens, sheds and general equipment to remove any potential biohazards, laying out lambing and maternal sheds to make this relentless time of year run as smoothly as possible.
The general public think that life is just busy at the point of lambing but anyone who has had a baby of their own will know that the birth is just the start of the work!
We focus on ensuring that the ewe nutrition is balanced with what is needed prior to birth to support the number of lambs each ewe is carrying. This is vital for the well being of the ewe and lamb but also financially important with the price of ewe feed at over £400 per ton.
We will begin to lamb on 22nd Feb and will finish on 4th April but thankfully there will be gaps in between the groups to allow for periods of rest and catch up.
Each lamb will receive colostrum from its mother at birth to ensure it has the best start possible. When lambs are born they have no immunity and the colostrum provides initial cover against the nasties that naturally are waiting to harm them. This is THE most critical time as if a lamb gets a bad start it very rarely recovers, as a result there is pressure to get it right during a very busy time.
The postman arrived with the ear tags today, this always focuses the mind as it confirms that the countdown in on to lambing!
Paul nervously anticipated this years scanning day. Local reports suggested that the severe drought in the summer of 2022 had negatively impacted earlier lambing flocks and reports of scanning being 15-20% were being talked about.
The first ewe went into the crate and Paul anxiously waited for the result, you could have heard a pin drop! “Twins” said John the scanner, then the next ewe went in, “twins”. By the time that the first ten had been done anxiety levels had reduced slightly (you always have a level of anxiety when working with sheep as they will always find a way to surprise!).
As the last ewe left the crate there was an enormous level of relief as the results were the best scanning that the flock has ever had 181%. This included two empty 6/7 year old ewes who were given the opportunity to go to the ram one final time due to what they have contributed to the flock.
Our breeding and selection decisions over the last ten years have been made very commercially. We want fast growing, easy fleshing progeny that are born easily to milky mothers and we want twins. It was therefore pleasing to see that over 75% of the ewes in lamb had scanned with twins.
Now time to focus on keeping the ewes in the best possible condition and getting them ready to lamb in February.
They still have time to provide a nasty surprise, the next risk is getting onto their backs due to being heavily in lamb, so a close watch will be needed!
The Texel Sheep Society was on winning form at the NSA Sheep Event at Malvern in July.
After a four year break the Kimbolton Flock was one of four flocks that provided sheep for the Texel Society tradestand.
Four gimmer ewes by 7,000gn Hilltop Cobra were provided and were much admired with some very pleasing comments received.
The trade stand was judged best trade stand and the sheep also triumphed being awarded the first prize for best pen of sheep at the event.
Speaking at the event Paul said “after such a long break from the last show, there was an excellent atmosphere and much positivity from everyone that I spoke to about what the breed and also the Kimbolton flock is trying to achieve”