17 August 2001

Advantageous ability to passon weight gain

A RAMS ability to pass on conformation and weight gain to its progeny may be the main advantage of performance recording, but strong constitution underpins the breeding behind the Wholestone flock.

One of the flocks most notable rams is the 1993-bred sire reference tup Wholestone Yorkshireman which was sired by a Belgian-bred Texel.

In great shape

"Yorkshireman may not be the best looking sheep, but hes got great shape.

"He sired the breed champion out of 240 entries at the 1998 Great Yorkshire Show and is still in the flock.

"When people see him they say who needs Beltex when there are Texels like this," says John Haigh, who recorded a Yorkshireman sired ram lamb weighing 42kg at eight weeks old this year.

Longevity is clearly inherent. Yorkshireman is out of a ewe born in 1990; she has a good mouth and a sound udder and is still breeding.

"We bought her from John Mellins Hull House flock in North Yorks. She suckled triplets this year and has never ailed in her life.

"We have always kept high index females and have several with an index over 300. But the flock is not a show flock; high index females are our priority."

High index tup

Lumbylaw Cocoa is a high index tup that has bred well in the Wholestone flock.

Among his best progeny was an outstanding set of triplet gimmers, one of which has achieved an index of 339 – a breed record at the time.

Size and shape coupled with growth rate is the breeding quest of this Yorks farming partnership which fears too much emphasis on showing has had a damaging effect on meat-making conformation traits. But they say high index rams epitomise the Texels terminal sire superiority.

"Its hard to understand why more commercial ram buyers arent looking at figures.

"It provides clear proof that a ram can produce progeny of superior conformation, particularly in the loin which is the most valuable part of the lamb carcass. Those lambs can also be ready to sell up to three weeks earlier," says Harry Whitwam. &#42