29 March 2015 | Online since 2003



6 November 2008|News,Sheep

Wool quality is essential for good sheep management says Border Leicester breeder


Ellie Stokeld

Fleece quality has always played an important part in the breeding policy of Ellie Stokeld’s Border Leicester flock – and while it has brought her considerable success in some of the UK’s most prestigious fleece competitions she believes it remains an essential part of good sheep management.

That’s the view of this enthusiastic Border Leicester breeder who has even created an extensive and informative web-site – www.borderleicester.com - dedicated to promoting the breed world-wide.

Ellie Stokeld’s flock of 90 pedigree ewes, based near Stokesley in North Yorkshire, was established in 1997. The last 11 years has seen the flock develop a regular trade for tups at the breed society’s main sales at Kelso, at Welshpool and at the NSA’ s autumn fixtures at Builth Wells

Four years ago at Kelso the flock achieved an average price of £990 for its shearling tups and not only won the breed championship and reserve but also took the award for the best group of three sheep. The flock’s top price at Kelso is £1600.

But it’s also the wool quality of Ellie Stokeld’s sheep that has earned her many championships in fleece competitions. She has been showing her Border Leicester fleeces at the Great Yorkshire Show for many years and has taken the fleece breed section title umpteen times as well as the supreme fleece championship on several occasions. There have been good wins too at Lincolnshire Show and the East of England Show. Fleece weights are around 3.5-4kg.

"Our commercial tup buyers demand a very good fleece on their sheep and that means we’ve got to put a lot of emphasis on fleece quality as part of our breeding programme. A tight, weather resistant fleece is what we must produce. The fleece must be tight and have good crimp and be even all over the sheep – from head to tail.

"You can have the best sheep in the world but if it has a bad fleece on it you might as well forget it because it just won’t thrive," says Ellie Stokeld.

Retired wool merchant and well known fleece judge John Sylvester is a big supporter of the Border Leicester and keeps some sheep in Ellie Stokeld’s flock.

"The hogg fleece from a Half-bred, sired by the Border Leicester, is among the best wool produced in the UK and as good as any wool that comes out of New Zealand. In fact British wool buyers would prefer to have wool from English Half-breds rather than import wool from New Zealand," reckons John Sylvester.

The foundation females for Ellie Stokeld’s flock came from several well-known breeders but it was when she decided to buy her first stock ram that she met Jim Stobo - one of the UK’s top Border Leicester breeders.

"I’ve been very lucky to have someone with so much experience as Jim Stobo as my mentor. Over the years his rams have had a big impact on the flock and that’s helped me concentrate on important traits to maintain correct conformation, good mouths and most importantly the skin (wool)," says Ellie.

Another breeding season is already well underway with the flock’s autumn tupping time starting in late September. After mating the ewes at home are carefully managed during the winter months in readiness for lambing to begin in mid-March. The flock’s lambing percentage is at least 180%.

"The Border Leicester is an easy lamber, excellent mother and has plenty of milk – traits that the breed is renowned for passing on to its female Half-bred progeny."

Although there’s still a good demand for Border Leicester tups in Wales and parts of Scotland - to produce Welsh and Scotch Half-breds respectively - the English Half-bred (traditionally a Border Leicester x Clun Forest) is not as popular as it used to be.

It’s a situation Ellie Stokeld believes needs to change. "The Half-bred is a tremendous sheep that served the sheep industry so well for generations. Much of its success was due to the efforts of Border Leicester breeders to produce good rams able to sire Half-bred progeny that had all the qualities needed in an efficient commercial breeding ewe.

"I think prime lamb producers should take some time to look at what the Half-bred is capable of as a commercial ewe – and especially her conformation."

Ellie Stokeld vigorously stands by the breed’s reputation as being "the great improver": "The Border Leicester will improve any breed it’s put to. The UK sheep industry is moving into a new era and as flock owners re-assess what the future holds it’s a perfect time to look back at the great days of the Half-bred commercial ewe and remember that the Border Leicester can give size, vigour, prolificacy, good fleece quality and conformation – all essential traits needed in a commercial ewe capable of producing prime lambs efficiently and profitably."


Download



Comments


No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment

To post comment without approval login or register

Display name

Please enter your name

Email (optional)
Comment

Please enter your comment

Post Comment

Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.

Some error on your process.Please try one more time.



Jobs


17 March 2015
TEAROOM ASSISTANT
Tea Room Assistant Hours of Work: 16+ Accountable to : manager/assistant manager Area of Work: Vallum Farm Principal Duty: To...

14 March 2015
Hatchery Operative
Ensuring chicks are sorted into the required grades and quantities ready for farm delivery. We are a fully integrated busines...

26 March 2015
Strategic Communications Advisor - Marketing
Develop and support 2-way communications between open data communities and agriculture communities. Deliver a range of integr...

25 March 2015
Pickers and Packers
We are currently recruiting for Pickers and Packers for our client based in Kiln Farm, Milton Keynes. This is a temporary con...

26 March 2015
Sales & Business Development Manager - ERP
Our client is the UK market leader in the supply of Integrated Dealer Management Systems for Agriculture, Horticulture, Groun...




Top stories you may have missed
23 March 2015 | Cattle

UK butchers face difficulties to recruit...

Butchers in the UK are losing a generation through lack of training opportu...


20 March 2015 | Arable

Dust - the secret fertiliser?

NASA research has revealed how dust blown from the Sahara desert helps supp...


19 March 2015 | Arable

The Budget 2015: A Farmer's Budget?

“In the run up to the Budget 2015 most commentators were predicting that th...


17 March 2015 | News

UK's first floating solar power system l...

The UK’s first fully operational floating solar panel system has been unvei...


13 March 2015 | Animal Health

Labour and Conservatives clash over badg...

Axing the badger cull in England and Wales will save more than £120 million...


12 March 2015 | News

Solar could be cheapest energy source by...

By 2025, solar power could become one of the cheapest forms of energy in ma...


11 March 2015 | Finance

English buyers turn their attention to S...

Demand for Scottish farm land remains strong and continues to be better val...


9 March 2015 | Cattle

2020 vision for the Welsh red meat indus...

The Welsh red meat industry should aim to increase sales by at least 34 per...


6 March 2015 | News

MP raises egg industry concerns on trans...

Fears about the impact that a proposed transatlantic trade agreement could ...


Stay safe and legal when flying drones

The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Unmanned Aircraft Systems - or dron...