3 April 1998

Suffolks lose race for popularity but sires still sought

By Emma Penny

SUFFOLK sires are far less popular than nine years ago, while use of most other sire breeds has risen, according to a new survey.

The 1996 sheep breed survey, conducted by Wye Colleges Geoff Pollott, shows that only 30% of ewes are mated to a Suffolk, compared with more than 45% nine years ago. However, the breed still remains the most popular sire.

In the same period, the popularity of Continental sires has risen – Texels are now used on 16% of the flock rather than 5%, while Charollais sires on 7% compared with just over 1% in 1987.

Use of the Scottish Blackface, Swaledale, Beulah and North Country Cheviot has also risen, while the percentage of ewes mated to a Bluefaced Leicester has remained constant at about 9%.

Declining to comment on the fall in popularity of the breed, Suffolk society chairman James Fleming says that the figures show that it has retained its place as the UKs number one terminal sire.

"This comes as no surprise to use because numbers sold and average prices are consistently higher than other breeds around the countrys commercial sales."

But Texel society chief executive Steven MacLean questions the validity of the Suffolk societys sales information. "Our market information would paint a different picture." He predicts the Texel will increase its market share as the differential for premium lambs increases.

Charollais society chief executive Jonathan Barber also believes his breeds popularity will increase, and reckons the survey has underestimated its use. "From our sales I think the figure should be 4-5% higher."

Suffolks falling behind…this terminal sire is less popular than nine years ago.