13 March 1998

Charollais ram features in top British genetics on UK stand

Traceability, extensive beef

production and the best of

UK sheep genetics were to

the fore at last weeks Paris

Show. Robert Davies reports

SOME of the best sheep genetics were featured on the UK stand, including the first British Charollais ram to be exhibited at the event.

Breed chief executive, Jonathan Barber, said attending was part of the societys 21st anniversary celebrations. The ram was not for sale, but the chances of finding a buyer were slim anyway. "He might make £6000 in the UK, but French pedigree breeders resist paying much more than £1000 for their stock rams," said Mr Barber.

But there was considerable potential for marketing semen and embryos. It was a view shared by the British Texel Societys chief executive, Steve McLean. Funding to exhibit a top sire reference Texel tup came from Texel Genetics UK, a society subsidiary, which becomes a separate company on Apr 1.

"We believe that members who stand to benefit from promoting the export of Texel genetics should pay for it," insisted Mr McLean. Will Haresign, research director of the Welsh Institute of Rural Studies, was in Paris to promote breeds involved in the Welsh Sheep Strategy improvement programme. Sheep from the Lleyn and Bluefaced Leicester group improvement schemes were used to demonstrate what was available to Continental breeders.

Glos breeder Mike Adams, who transported the nine pens of sheep to Paris, was pushing the merits of Hampshire Down rams as terminal sires for early lamb production. He exhibited a ewe and lamb produced using New Zealand bloodlines.

The mixture of UK and imported genes had narrow shoulders for easy lambing, and weighed 36kg at 10 weeks old. But Mr Adams admitted it would not be easy to erase the breeds reputation for over-fatness. "For the first time the breed is now involved with Signet in development work that will exploit the many favourable characteristics of the breed."

North Country Mule exporter Robert Bell complained that the strong £ was making it almost impossible to sell breeding sheep in western Europe, but insisted it was important to continue showing potential customers the quality of British sheep.

Suffolk and Scottish Blackface animals were also exhibited on the stand, which was arranged by MLCs export department and the National Sheep Association.


&#8226 Traceability which requires UK lambs traced to farm of origin.

&#8226 Interest in more traditional beef breeds and better meat quality.

&#8226 Hopes of £245,000 available for sheep promotion overseas.