Over the last seven years the Kimbolton Flock has supplied our genetics to a number of key research projects. These projects have ranged in focus from improving welfare (eg mastitis and foot rot) to improving the eating experience.
One of these projects was focussed on finding out if Intramuscular fat could be measured using visible and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) in an abattoir environment.
Intramuscular fat (IMF) is an important proxy for the eating experience of meat as the correct levels of IMF increase succulence and juiceness but too much makes it taste fatty. In recent years Wagyu in Beef has seen a surge in popularity and this is a great example of a highly marbled meat with a great eating experience that has high levels of IMF. It is therefore not surprising that a similar eating experience could be achieved for lamb.
However, continental breeds of sheep are renowned for their lean carcass and high killing out %, so how can you get a carcasse that has the right amount of subcutaneous fat but with high levels of IMF? Well that is the easy bit – use the right combination of sire and dam but the hard bit is measuring IMF levels in a meat processor at line speed as traditional methods are slow and expensive. Without this measurement there is no way to provide continual feedback to breeders so that they can make informed breeding decisions.
This project bred lambs from a range of Texel sires including ones selected from the Kimbolton flock. These were finished on grass and then sent in batches for slaughter where their loins were then analysed with IMF levels being measured using NIR.
The project found that:
Visible and near-infrared spectroscopy can predict intramuscular fat in lamb loins.
Spectroscopic predictions can be taken in an abattoir on intact meat cuts.
Meat quality predictions could feed back in the supply chain to inform breeding.
This could mean in the future IMF measurements get incorporated into a quality assurance scheme as the tools developed and proved during this project show there is a feasible measurement method. Of course only time will tell if this happens. In the meanwhile the Kimbolton flock is utilising the breeding values that are produced by the Texelplus evaluations to try to increase IMF levels in the Kimbolton flock.
What a year 2020 has been, if lambing wasn’t exciting enough with the storms and floods, then lock down, then a heatwave!
Despite all of that the sheep have quietly got on with it and we have now sold out for 2020 earlier than ever before.
With the advent of COVID many buyers visited early to secure their choice of genetics taking advantage of viewing the Rams and Ewes on farm in their natural clothes whilst maintaining social distancing.
This method of purchasing is different to buying at auction but has the massive benefit of being able to see all of the animals for sale as well as the parents and the system they were reared in. This is very different to just seeing a pen of animals on sale day that you have decided to take to that particular sale. Many buyers commented that this was a much more three dimensional experience which they found highly valuable.
As a result we would like like to thank all of our customers, both old and new and wish them luck with their purchases.
If you are still looking for something for this year we have a tremendous range of semen for sale (details can be found on the For Sale page), and if you are still looking for a Ram give Paul a call on 07730 700390 as he may be able to put you in touch with other flocks with suitable stock for sale that use Kimbolton genetics.
Now to focus on getting the ewes back in lamb – another year gone!
It is with a heavy heart that we announce that sadly CAP died today aged thirteen and a half.
He has been an intrinsic part of the family and flock since we were lucky enought to buy him from our neighbour Derek Lloyd (who in his lifetime won the National twice).
CAP was a rare blend of a family dog and a determined and capable worker who didnt take any nonsense from the sheep. He would move the largest of Rams or the smallest of lambs all with care and compassion. Many visitors have commented on him when they came to look at the sheep as he quickly got them rounded up and under control without the need for hurdles!
He was one of those rare dogs who would do what ever you asked of him and the bond that was created between us was truly special. 100% loyal and dependable you have been my dog of a lifetime.
Thank you CAP, rest peacefully, I hope we get to meet again.
One of the key breeding objectives we have is high growth rate.
Lamb prices fluctuate throughout the year with higher prices typcially paid around the April/May period. As a result our commercial customers wish to ensure they can sell more lambs at the higher price and to do this they only really have two options.
Lamb earlier – however this brings with it extra costs for housing and feeding.
Use carefully selected genetics to produce lambs that grow more quickly.
Option 2 is the most cost effective and proven and using the right genetics can help significantly boost slaughter lamb growth rates.
The best of our pedigree and cross bred lambs this year have achieved Daily Live Weight Gains (DLWG) in excess of 500g/day with the mob overall averaging 350g/day (this includes the stragglers).
Please contact us if this is something that is of interest.
With the UK wide lock down that came into effect today we are entering an unprecidented time and we wish everyone well. We would like to offer our sincere thanks and appreciation for the NHS staff who are battling this demonic disease the like of which this country hasn’t seen for a century.
It is easy to get downbeat about the current situation but we will all need to remain positive and work together to come through this. Farming teaches you many things, but the most important lesson is resilience. This is gained by working hard despite many disappointments. These include not receiving a fair price for what you produce, working in the extremites of the British weather, plus coming to terms with the fact that despite your very best efforts your “best” animal always seems to die.
Despite all of that, the non financial rewards are significant. You get to work with nature in the most beautiful parts of the countryside. Plus in times like these, scenes like the one below fill you with hope for a new tomorrow. Stay safe people.
One of our breeding goals is to ensure ease of lambing as Texel’s are often thought of as problematic to lamb as they are a Terminal Sire breed. Unlike others we don’t select for large heads and shoulders and as a result our number of assisted lambings has reduced over time. This is beneficial to both Sheep and Shepherd as it results in less stress for the ewes and more live lambs.
However despite careful feeding and management, from time to time you can still get a BIG single (my least favourite). The lamb pictured below arrived and weighed in at 8kg which in itself isn’t a monster lamb, but it was born from one of our smaller ewe lines (selected for their efficiency) and the mother weighed 90kg. This combination meant that it was assisted, but Mother and Son are both doing well (Mother naturally had some pain relief).
Lambing is such a special time as seeing new life is truly inspiring. It is my favourite time of the year and I love being with the ewes and lambs and being part of the flock. As a result you get to see some really special moments. The picture below was taken just after Mum had given birth and you can see the exhaustion and relief in her eyes as she cleans off her offspring and forms that vitial maternal bond.