David Barber from AR & SL Good, Wantage
The Warborough Ewes are a composite based on Finn Dorsets and Milksheep, of which the best are bred to keep for replacements and the rest are crossed with Suffolk or Charollais terminal sires. Breeding ewes are AI’d so that they lamb in December, with ewe lambs and returns mated naturally to lamb in January.
The aim being to produce young prime lambs for butchers to sell on the early Spring & Easter market. This year, 1250 ewes lambed in the first 2 weeks of December and 650 will lamb in January, of which they should produce about 500 replacement ewe lambs and 3000 slaughter lambs to sell from early March through to the end of May.
The manager, David Barber, has been at Warborough Farm for 30 years, he and his team, AI the ewes in July themselves. This enables them to use top quality Indexed Sires, over a large number of ewes and this allows the control of the breeding of those ewes producing the replacements.
These lambs are then double tagged at birth, using the TagFaster System, which has been the practice for the past 3 years.
AI also helps manage the number of ewes lambing each day, this year with an 85% conception rate, about 100 ewes lambed each day over the 2 weeks in December.
At lambing time Ewe Lambs are only left to rear 1 lamb, so any extra lambs from them or other ewes are reared on a milk machine, these lambs are then tagged using single TagFaster tags to help monitor and manage the progress of them.
All lambs are reared indoors on mum with access to creep, they are then weaned at 6 or 7 weeks and are then finished indoors on ad-lib creep and straw.
The Ewes are dried off on hay then put out to grass in the Spring. Slaughter lambs are tagged with a single slaughter tag using the TagFaster system, once they have been selected and are then transported by trailer direct to the abattoir.
Carcasses average about 19.5kg with most being U R 3L & 3H, they are then sold to butchers giving them a high quality British product to sell.
“We have been using Roxan tags since 2002, at which time we started with the Adamatic Tag, this was to help save time when tagging lambs for slaughter.
Previously it was another person’s job just to load the pliers with a conventional single tag system, so this did save a lot of time and money when tagging 3000 lambs.
In 2010 we started using the TagFaster single batch tags for slaughter lambs, which we found to be a much simpler and faster system.
We did have a few teething problems at first where we found that the thinner pins were breaking, but this has now been addressed with a new thicker pin.
With these improvements we are now confident of being able to double tag our breeding stock at birth, with their life time identifier which saves a lot of time and money, as we don’t have to re-tag ewe lambs later in life.”