Leading Texel and Limousin breeder Richard Oates takes another step towards retirement from pedigree sheep breeding on Saturday, with the dispersal of the adult portion of his Lumbylaw flock, at Billerwell Farm, Bonchester Bridge, Hawick.

The flock, which has been performance recorded for 25 years, came out top on performance across all UK Texel flocks last year.

The on-farm sale is being conducted by Carlisle auctioneers Harrison and Hetherington in conjunction with George F White, Alnwick, where Richard and his wife Marion’s middle son Tom is a partner and land agent and auctioneer.The Lumbylaw flock was founded at Lumbylaw farm, Alnwick in 1976, simultaneously with Mr Oates’ pedigree Limousin herd which grew to be the largest pedigree herd in the UK prior to the majority of the herd being dispersed in 2000.

From these recordings, Lumbylaw’s impressive statistics included last year – 10 of the top 22 stock sires, 15 of the top 20 ram lambs and 12 out of the top 20 lambs judged on muscle depth (from a total of 5,000 ram lambs). The flock’s lamb average was in the top five per cent of the breed.

Like the Limousin, he was attracted to the Texel because of its superior carcase qualities but he recognised the importance of further improving the breed through recording.

The flock is made up of 130 ewes and 90 gimmers. Bred from selected lines including stock of Lumbylaw origin in other flocks, using embryo transplant after the foot and mouth outbreak, the flock is predominantly first and second crop with a few older ewes.

All the sheep are above breed average for performance, with many in the top five percent and a number in the top one percent of the breed.

While performance has always been to the fore, there has always been a careful selection of sires to maintain true to the Texel breed. Stock sires used from UK flocks include Annan, Turin, Noresk, Stonefieldhill, Baltier, Midhill, Cambwell, Grougfoot, East Middle, Garngour, Muiresk and Alwent.

More recent introductions have been Muriesk Forever and Haremoss Important Boy which have made important contributions to the flock.

In addition to the impressive performance figures, the flock also boasts the most comprehensive data available on any UK flock for faecal worm count. This data, collected over a 10 year period, provides additional reassurance to purchasers seeking worm resistance.

Richard will still have gimmers and shearlings to sell next year, but continues to make plans for further environmental improvements at Billerwell which caters for a growing number of tourists through a bed and breakfast business and holiday cottage.