The Romney is a … “We were lucky to find the breaks we did and we had a small pot of savings which helped get us started. If you watch public television perhaps you’ve seen Romney sheep, which frequent the All Things Great and Small series. “We soon found daily shifts allowed more days per paddock and the sheep adjusted to moving well, soon becoming more calm and workable. A total of 350 acres of grassland at the family farm carry the flock with the use of top quality genetics and strong grass and feed management helping produce top quality prime lambs from a flock which is split into three lambing groups, explains Helen Langrish. This early lambing flock enables us to spread the cash flow from lamb sales further through the season, providing a valuable income at what can be a quiet time for the sheep enterprise.”, The battle to gain a foothold on the farming ladder has seen the Lovejoys gradually expand their sheep flock to its current size from a small start, with a number of other flocks also managed under a variety of different agreements. Romney produces lean cuts of meat with the well-muscled carcass. Having a swampy origin, they are more resistant to sheep foot rot and liver flukes than most breeds. “With our climate that wasn’t an option for our outdoor lambed flock, but I was sure there was something to be gained from doing it.”, The Viewfield flock is largely based on New Zealand Romney genetics, having been founded with UK Romney ewes and then bred up with imported semen, and is farmed on an easier care system with minimal intervention. Myostatin gene: In 2019, testing of a linkage ram showed that the gene for extra muscling is present in RHIS Romneys. However, no health issues emerged and we use a Fecpak kit to regularly monitor worm egg counts, so were able to keep an eye on egg counts throughout the grazing period. A preliminary study of the potential effect on profit by SAC economist Robert Logan suggested an increased profit of up to £25/ewe from adopting the system and Mr Sanders now intends to continue with the system and extend it to all of his flock, adds Dr Vipond. “The base flock is Romney and is the source of all the female replacements for the crossbred flock. “We aim to let the sheep look after themselves and try to make the most of grazed grass rather than concentrate feed, although in spring 2013 we have had to feed concentrates due to the poor grass growth over winter as a result of an early cold snap in September 2012.”, The April lambing flock is shorn first in early-mid June, when the flock has traditionally always been shorn, with the second shearing taking place a few months later, ideally towards the end of August or early September. It can be either white or colored. For Woodchurch-based Edward and Gemma Lovejoy the aspiration to farm has been cemented into reality by hard work and a flexible approach to land tenure. As a result we farm in line with the scheme rules and help the landlords abide by the agreements.”. The group has made good progress in increasing growth, maternal ability and muscle depth. “We found that we could set up a week’s worth of paddock fencing in half a day, allowing us to feed 950 ewes in 15 minutes. “They also held onto their condition better through the winter, largely I suspect because they were able to keep warmer and drier as the fleece wasn’t holding as much moisture as a full fleece would do.”. And while some may question the cost of shearing a second time Mr Maxwell says that with Romney wool of significant value compared to many breeds it stacks up financially too. “And at the end of the rotation ewes can be set stocked for lambing on newly grown grass on areas grazed at the beginning of the winter rotation. The Romney is not the ideal breed for every situation. “For the business owner it provides an ideal opportunity to step back from active farming while also retaining some control over their land and assets.”, Mr Lovejoy says his business has thrived as a result of working with farmers with no successor wanting to take the farm on, but who don’t want to give up their land or farming interest. “Having the right sheep for the system is clearly important and from the 950 ewes originally put on to the paddocks we removed 45 which were failing to maintain condition score as we’d have liked. Sheep were FEC (Faecal Egg Count) tested and a FEC analysis was done by Signet. Very hardy, this sheep breed is an easy keeper. The fleece is lustrous; it hangs in separate locks, with minimal cross fibers between the locks. The RHIS schemewas started in May 2014 after a group of Signet recorded members obtained permission from the Romney Society Council to start an improvement scheme, which might include the use of rams from flocks outside the Society. This system and variations of it have been successfully run in NZ for many years and have proved highly effective. “All our prime lambs are sold by October, but the ewe lambs we retain are outwintered on the farm.