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Thread: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

  1. #91
    Inbye
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by easyram1 View Post
    I do not say they have to be pure NZ to be any good but I do bristle at the frequently trumpeted claims that certain UK Suffolk flocks have NZ genetics when frankly their sheep would have more connections to New Zealand if the owner put a TV in the lambing shed and let his ewes watch the All Blacks playing.
    As to "how good" any particular sheep are I only speak from our own experience on our farm whee we produce and sell grass reared rams. We went down the NZ route in 2006 and for a couple of years we had pure NZ lambs born from imported embryos, 1/2 NZ - 1/2 UK lambs born out of the remnants of our own pedigree UK flock and also out of a very high index flock bought from a University farm and finally a few pure English lambs out of UK ewes and by a UK tups - with all these sheep running together.The differences in the milking ability of the ewes and more importantly the performance of their lambs on a grass only diet was most marked and the fact that we have no pure UK Suffolk ewes here today tells its own tale.

    I would not wish to criticize anyone else's sheep or their management but I would guess that Kelso is not the place to find too many terminal breed rams that have been solely on grass or forage diets throughout their lives.
    I take your point, but from your previous posts I think I'm right in saying that your original UK type suffolk ewes were the real extreme type as that was the market you were aiming for. What I'm trying to get at is that some breeders, admitedly not many in all likelihood, did not head down the thick boned route and therefore an injection of blood from a more commercial type animal, like the NZ suffolk, was less relevant. But, that's not to say that there aren't gains to be made from injecting some NZ blood into these more commercial type UK suffolk ewes.

    On Kelso, I would agree that there won't be many tups reared on a grass only diet but that doesn't mean that they are all stuffed with concentrates. If you know a bit about the breeders and how they run their sheep, or even just avoiding the great big stuffed pens, you can still find some good tups that won't melt across all the breeds.

  2. #92
    sheepwreck
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by easyram1 View Post
    I do not say they have to be pure NZ to be any good but I do bristle at the frequently trumpeted claims that certain UK Suffolk flocks have NZ genetics when frankly their sheep would have more connections to New Zealand if the owner put a TV in the lambing shed and let his ewes watch the All Blacks playing.
    As to "how good" any particular sheep are I only speak from our own experience on our farm whee we produce and sell grass reared rams. We went down the NZ route in 2006 and for a couple of years we had pure NZ lambs born from imported embryos, 1/2 NZ - 1/2 UK lambs born out of the remnants of our own pedigree UK flock and also out of a very high index flock bought from a University farm and finally a few pure English lambs out of UK ewes and by a UK tups - with all these sheep running together.The differences in the milking ability of the ewes and more importantly the performance of their lambs on a grass only diet was most marked and the fact that we have no pure UK Suffolk ewes here today tells its own tale.

    I would not wish to criticize anyone else's sheep or their management but I would guess that Kelso is not the place to find too many terminal breed rams that have been solely on grass or forage diets throughout their lives.
    Climate, soils and topography dictate that hardly any rams sold at Kelso from Scotland or the North of England can be totally grass fed. The Land of Goshen it is not, especially this year when the grass made a brief appearance 2 weeks ago, only to disappear with the return of cold wet weather. Even the breeder of previously grass-fed tups from Aberdeenshire now admits they are on hard feeding during the winter and early Spring. Tups which are made of blubber can be detected by handling them. Tups which are mainly grass-fed are not as well-grown, and don't look as flash as the overstuffed variety. My advice is to steer clear of tups which are big and over-conditioned, or go for something that's got figures, although a lot of them are also overfed for sale and won't last, which doesn't show in their figures.

  3. #93
    sheepwreck
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeilO View Post
    And yet other breeders are using genetic tools to get ever deeper (& wider) eye muscles. Perhaps the spread within the breed (& others) is getting greater?
    Too few of the top Charollais breeders put muscle as their top EBV. Maybe because the fast-growth of the Suffolk was what they were trying to match. Now the Texel is top dog, and muscle EBV has become more important to Charollais breeders. Meanwhile the Texels are going all out to match Suffolk growth rates and have lost the muscle. Mad or what?

  4. #94
    sheepwreck
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by cotswoldcs View Post
    We have a flock of Suffolk x Mule ewes (and some Mules to breed replacements). A few years ago we moved to buying Suffolks with high EBVs from a breeder in South Gloucestershire and are now seeing improvements in our flock. Whilst there are disadvantages of the breed they perform well and financially lambs do well. The residual cull value makes quite a difference and can't be ignored with cull ewe prices as they are.
    Any terminal sire to breed replacements from Mule ewes needs to come from a Signet recorded flock so that he can be selected for the correct traits. A tup with good muscularity which is ideal for producing prime lambs might not sire daughters which are prolific and milky. A high index sire passes on his high-performance traits to daughters and grand-daughters irrespective of breed so it's worth checking out EBVs.

  5. #95
    skoda
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by sheepwreck View Post
    Any terminal sire to breed replacements from Mule ewes needs to come from a Signet recorded flock so that he can be selected for the correct traits. A tup with good muscularity which is ideal for producing prime lambs might not sire daughters which are prolific and milky. A high index sire passes on his high-performance traits to daughters and grand-daughters irrespective of breed so it's worth checking out EBVs.
    As far as I am aware there is nothing to state for sure that a lamb as come off a good udder or a add lib creep feeder.

  6. #96
    NeilO
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by skoda View Post
    As far as I am aware there is nothing to state for sure that a lamb as come off a good udder or a add lib creep feeder.
    8 wk wt ebv will give a good guide as to mother's (whether natural, foster dam or recipient) milking ability. Not a lot of influence from creep feeding by then.

  7. #97
    easyram1
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeilO View Post
    8 wk wt ebv will give a good guide as to mother's (whether natural, foster dam or recipient) milking ability. Not a lot of influence from creep feeding by then.
    From my memory our Suffolk lambs in the good old days would be eating creep by 4 weeks old and plenty by eight if they were still inside as probably still happens with plenty of January lambing flocks so what should happen in theory may not happen in practice

  8. #98
    NeilO
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by easyram1 View Post
    From my memory our Suffolk lambs in the good old days would be eating creep by 4 weeks old and plenty by eight if they were still inside as probably still happens with plenty of January lambing flocks so what should happen in theory may not happen in practice
    But the vast majority of growth to 8 weeks will be from milk, whatever the extras offered. A lamb whose mother didn't milk, will not weigh well a 8 weeks, even if he has started eating lots of creep. It isn't perfect of course, but it's the best measure we have. I am regularly told that the French do it right, they record weight at 8-10 weeks and that gives a measure of the ewe's milking ability. Tell the same people that we record the same with Signet, and they don't seem to want to believe it.

    I missed you the other night at RG's Robyn. You'd have enjoyed it, especially when someone asked irately why "you ram breeders" always feed lots of cabbages.

  9. #99
    sheepwreck
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeilO View Post
    But the vast majority of growth to 8 weeks will be from milk, whatever the extras offered. A lamb whose mother didn't milk, will not weigh well a 8 weeks, even if he has started eating lots of creep. It isn't perfect of course, but it's the best measure we have. I am regularly told that the French do it right, they record weight at 8-10 weeks and that gives a measure of the ewe's milking ability. Tell the same people that we record the same with Signet, and they don't seem to want to believe it.

    I missed you the other night at RG's Robyn. You'd have enjoyed it, especially when someone asked irately why "you ram breeders" always feed lots of cabbages.
    The French weigh at 30 days which is before a lamb starts eating creep and it gives a better and more honest picture of maternal traits IMHO.

  10. #100
    andybk
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by sheepwreck View Post
    The French weigh at 30 days which is before a lamb starts eating creep and it gives a better and more honest picture of maternal traits IMHO.
    +1

  11. #101
    Tim W
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    My lambs are weighed at 8 weeks/20 weeks & before going to the tup for the first time---thats all before they have any creep

    I am thinking of purchasing a recorded terminal sire ram lamb this year --- and have started to take a look at whats on offer,talked to one breeder recently who claimed that he only fed a little creep to his lambs and that this would not effect lamb health etc ---after further questioniong it turns out that 'a little creep' is to a maximum of 40kg /head---unbelieveable

  12. #102
    Global Ovine
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by sheepwreck View Post
    The French weigh at 30 days which is before a lamb starts eating creep and it gives a better and more honest picture of maternal traits IMHO.
    SIL in NZ only uses weaning weight. Along with birth date etc. calculates the individual dam contribution to her lambs' weaning weight, identified as Maternal Weaning Wt. This is separate to Direct Weaning Wt. also a BLUP calculated eBV, but for early lamb growth irrespective of how good a milker the dam was.
    All lambs in the NZ industry are on pasture only. However if each management mob is identified, a 60 day weight should be sufficient as a lamb's rumen is fully functioning by the time it is 25 kgs live weight, and peak milk production is reached within 20 days (depending on demand and feed available).

    Weaning weight has the greatest influence of all traits on all other traits.
    We all need a good mother.

  13. #103
    sheepwreck
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Global Ovine View Post
    SIL in NZ only uses weaning weight. Along with birth date etc. calculates the individual dam contribution to her lambs' weaning weight, identified as Maternal Weaning Wt. This is separate to Direct Weaning Wt. also a BLUP calculated eBV, but for early lamb growth irrespective of how good a milker the dam was.
    All lambs in the NZ industry are on pasture only. However if each management mob is identified, a 60 day weight should be sufficient as a lamb's rumen is fully functioning by the time it is 25 kgs live weight, and peak milk production is reached within 20 days (depending on demand and feed available).

    Weaning weight has the greatest influence of all traits on all other traits.
    We all need a good mother.
    You've put in a nutshell why the UK Signet system has little credibility. Creep feeding - and no-one will ever persuade me that the figures take it into account. If terminal sire breeds were grass-reared like the Spring-lambing breeds, that would make a difference. Why do they need to lamb when there's no grass?

  14. #104
    Global Ovine
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by sheepwreck View Post
    You've put in a nutshell why the UK Signet system has little credibility. Creep feeding - and no-one will ever persuade me that the figures take it into account. If terminal sire breeds were grass-reared like the Spring-lambing breeds, that would make a difference. Why do they need to lamb when there's no grass?
    Don't blame Signet for the management systems that breeders have established.
    Maybe those breeders who feel the future for commercial farming is in pasture feeding only need to lobby Signet for an option which is tailor made to pasture fed genetics rather than Signet's current efforts in trying to cater for everybody.
    I suggest such breeders enter discussions with Sam Boon as he is technically qualified to explain Signets capabilities.

  15. #105
    NeilO
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by sheepwreck View Post
    You've put in a nutshell why the UK Signet system has little credibility. Creep feeding - and no-one will ever persuade me that the figures take it into account. If terminal sire breeds were grass-reared like the Spring-lambing breeds, that would make a difference. Why do they need to lamb when there's no grass?
    'They' lamb when there's no grass purely because their rams are then bigger come sale time. We all know that size/scale/strength (or whatever) is all that matters in the sale ring. If it pays to produce it, then it will be produced. The only way it will stop, is if ram buyers vote with their cheque books, which I didn't see much sign of in Builth last year.

    As to the creep/grass feeding thing with Signet not working, I will repeat that the top rated Charollais stock ram was born in March (admittedly to a recipient ewe). His dam received no concentrates after turnout at 24 hours and he has never seen an ounce of hard feed. By October, he weighed 80kg, and has gone on some since then. He carried enough finish for slaughter at any weight from 30kg, but still not excessively fat now. His Feb born ('trial run') lambs all exhibit the same growth & natural fleshing on a similar system. The Signet system had already predicted his high performance, from the performance of smilar breeding in my early lambing flock that receives 'CREEP FEED' for a while.

  16. #106
    easyram1
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Global Ovine View Post
    Don't blame Signet for the management systems that breeders have established.
    Maybe those breeders who feel the future for commercial farming is in pasture feeding only need to lobby Signet for an option which is tailor made to pasture fed genetics rather than Signet's current efforts in trying to cater for everybody.
    I suggest such breeders enter discussions with Sam Boon as he is technically qualified to explain Signets capabilities.
    I agree. I would be more than happy to help coordinate or encourage any such group in discussions with Sam who I would expect to give a sympathetic ear. The problem is that currently the main players who make representations to Signet are the Breed Societies and they by definition represent the interests of their members rather than of the British sheep industry as a whole . Ultimately the power lies with the commercial farmer who can determine the future of ram breeding if he votes with his cheque book. The impending launches of booklets by Signet and SAC both about producing rams that are fit for purpose seem to be a very good opportunity for others to make their requirements known.

  17. #107
    skoda
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by easyram1 View Post
    From my memory our Suffolk lambs in the good old days would be eating creep by 4 weeks old and plenty by eight if they were still inside as probably still happens with plenty of January lambing flocks so what should happen in theory may not happen in practice
    Lambs reared as singles or a twin on a very milky Suffolk ewe will hardly look at creep until its 4 weeks old but a Suffolk lamb that is not getting both quality & quantity of milk because they have such an appetite , given the option of either Harbro or I`Ansons type coarse mixture ,which are high tech`,extremely good & expensive feed can eat a fair bit from as early as a week old and can be eating a couple of kilo`s a day ,by 4 weeks old if they need to.To suggest creep feed does not have a big influence on 8 week weights is nonsense.IMO running ewes & lambs on good quality grass leys can be a big disadvantage if you are feeding creep and chasing prizes , certainly from what I have witnessed over the years from numerous other flocks .

  18. #108
    skoda
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by easyram1 View Post
    I agree. I would be more than happy to help coordinate or encourage any such group in discussions with Sam who I would expect to give a sympathetic ear. The problem is that currently the main players who make representations to Signet are the Breed Societies and they by definition represent the interests of their members rather than of the British sheep industry as a whole . Ultimately the power lies with the commercial farmer who can determine the future of ram breeding if he votes with his cheque book. The impending launches of booklets by Signet and SAC both about producing rams that are fit for purpose seem to be a very good opportunity for others to make their requirements known.
    If Signet was to Scan & weigh at weanig time even I would consider joining , but 20 weeks is too late for Suffolk's .
    There are a lot of very fast growing type of sheep ,that IMO mature beyond finishing weight that seem to be dominant.Personally I am not interested in what they are like when then they are 55kgs to 80 kgs in weight , I simply want to know what they are like at around 40kgs.

  19. #109
    NeilO
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by skoda View Post
    Lambs reared as singles or a twin on a very milky Suffolk ewe will hardly look at creep until its 4 weeks old but a Suffolk lamb that is not getting both quality & quantity of milk because they have such an appetite , given the option of either Harbro or I`Ansons type coarse mixture ,which are high tech`,extremely good & expensive feed can eat a fair bit from as early as a week old and can be eating a couple of kilo`s a day ,by 4 weeks old if they need to.To suggest creep feed does not have a big influence on 8 week weights is nonsense.IMO running ewes & lambs on good quality grass leys can be a big disadvantage if you are feeding creep and chasing prizes , certainly from what I have witnessed over the years from numerous other flocks .
    Really? Lambs eating creep at a week old and 2kgs by a month old? I guess my ewes must milk better than I thought. My lambs would only get near to 2kg after weaning, despite being happy to offer only a good creep in early days.

  20. #110
    NeilO
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by skoda View Post
    If Signet was to Scan & weigh at weanig time even I would consider joining , but 20 weeks is too late for Suffolk's .
    There are a lot of very fast growing type of sheep ,that IMO mature beyond finishing weight that seem to be dominant.Personally I am not interested in what they are like when then they are 55kgs to 80 kgs in weight , I simply want to know what they are like at around 40kgs.
    You can scan & weigh at slaughter weight. My late born, grass fed group are generally 40-50kg at scanning (CT & ultrasound). Their figures still generally correspond with predictions that include data from the earlier creep fed group.

  21. #111
    skoda
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeilO View Post
    Really? Lambs eating creep at a week old and 2kgs by a month old? I guess my ewes must milk better than I thought. My lambs would only get near to 2kg after weaning, despite being happy to offer only a good creep in early days.
    I am only stating what can happen when there is free access .

    Certainly does not happen here I don't creep feed anymore.

  22. #112
    sheepwreck
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    The current Signet terminal sire recording system seems to have been created with only pedigree breeders in mind. If the objective is lambs away by 14 weeks off grass, then why isn't weighing and scanning carried out at 14 - 16 weeks? A lot of recording flocks will have their rejects away well before 20 weeks when they would be well out of spec. if they were kept on for recording purposes. If you are not recording all your lambs, is there any point in doing it at all because your accuracies must be wrong.

  23. #113
    sheepmad
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by skoda View Post
    I am only stating what can happen when there is free access .

    Certainly does not happen here I don't creep feed anymore.
    If you have good grass, there is no need for creep but if the protein level of grass is not 22% and the digestibility also high, young animals need creep to develop good bone structure fast. This will reflect in later life. Pedigree breeders who only have grass fed rams, always have good swards with clover and a high % of rye grass

  24. #114
    Marches Farmer
    Guest

    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Agree on the good pasture - all our fields are ancient meadow, withstand drought very well and have a huge variety of grasses, wild flowers and herbs. This year, though, I'm going to bite the bullet and buy a recorded ram, just to test out my observation so far that my main breed (Southdown) always follows the strain, conformation, feet and prolificacy of its dam, irrespective of those of the sire.

  25. #115
    Landandsea
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    I will add my vote to the fact that signet does quite a bad job of knowing if a sheep is well fed or not. We run two lambings one in December and one in April. The Decemeber ones are intended to be sold as lambs so are fed the April ones not. The December ones don't get the highest figures despite us normally picking the best ewes to lamb then. Signet has its faults but from my experience that is not one.

    The other things with Signet that is worth a look -if you dont want overfed sheep- is the actual figures (as oppose to EBV'S). If a Charollias is back fat scanned at over 5mm of fat and does not have a very high fat EBV he is well fed. Indeed an average grass fed lamb will only have 1.5mm-3mm of back fat at 20 weeks. Its only at the day of scanning but if you look at a group of lambs figures you can see how they were fed at the time of scanning.

    On the subject of this thread I am no fan of Suffolk's myself however they have an enduring popularity in this area. Last year at the later sales there bottom end held up very well. The best of any breed. Texel's on the other hand were often the best prices but a lot were going through the ring under fat price. I would say a lot of people are returning to Suffolk's from Texel's.

  26. #116
    NeilO
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    Re: Does ANYBODY breed good suffolks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Landandsea View Post
    The other things with Signet that is worth a look -if you dont want overfed sheep- is the actual figures (as oppose to EBV'S). If a Charollias is back fat scanned at over 5mm of fat and does not have a very high fat EBV he is well fed. Indeed an average grass fed lamb will only have 1.5mm-3mm of back fat at 20 weeks. Its only at the day of scanning but if you look at a group of lambs figures you can see how they were fed at the time of scanning.
    Very true, and I regularly look at this. I run a very fast mile when I see a (Charollais) lamb with a back fat depth of 8mm+, but especially when it still has a negative fat ebv.

    Quote Originally Posted by Landandsea View Post
    On the subject of this thread I am no fan of Suffolk's myself however they have an enduring popularity in this area. Last year at the later sales there bottom end held up very well. The best of any breed. Texel's on the other hand were often the best prices but a lot were going through the ring under fat price. I would say a lot of people are returning to Suffolk's from Texel's.
    Oversupply of Texels and less Suffolks being bred might have something to do with it too.

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