Buyers pay for performance at Lleyn and Texel sale

The McGowan family’s Working Genes on-farm ram sale, once again drew in a good ringside of buyers looking for naturally reared Texel and Lleyn sires.

The evening sale at Incheoch near Blairgowrie, Perthshire was the fifth annual event, and once again David Leggat of United Auctions was in the rostum. He sold 85 rams for an average price of £832 compared with £1,012 for 80 sold at last year’s sale.

In breed terms 44 Texel shearlings sold to average £725.69, with 41 Lleyn shearlings averaging £947.56.

Mr Leggat said: “I was really pleased with the sale. It is the biggest number we have sold here and we had a total clearance with buyers from Wales, Ireland and Orkney. “There were rams from 300gns to 2,000gns, which prove the worth of using an auction system for setting a range of values” he said. “It was very clear that performance figures had a big bearing on prices”.

The 2,000gns mark was reached twice, both times from the Lleyn offering. The first Incheoch Ninja went to Rosebury Estates, Dalmeny, South Queensferry, and was the highest indexed son of stock sire Incheoch Legend. In the top 1% of the breed for maternal weight ratio, eight week weight and scanning weight, this well-muscled shearling has a good record of twin lamb production in his pedigree and had been used as a ram lamb. His dam had reared 15 lambs in eight crops.

Incheoch Sale Lot 53.JPGThe other 2,000gns price was paid by pedigree breeder Duncan Nelless, Thistley Haugh, Morpeth. He runs 1,600 Lleyn ewes and paid the top price at the first Working Genes sale five years ago.

Mr Nelless’ purchase Incheoch Navigator is out of a five-crop ewe which has consistently reared her own weight in lambs at 100days. “This would be one to choose for anyone looking for good maternal behaviour traits” said Neil McGowan.

The top price Texel made 1,300gns selling to James Hay, Meikle Tullo, Edzell. This son of Grey Peel Piston was again one with a good all-round set of performance figures with the added feature that it was within the top 1% of the breed for worm resistance.

Jamie Gammell was again the strongest volume buyer taking eight rams the few miles up Glenisla to Forter, a hill unit producing top quality lambs using a blend of Blackface, Texel and Lleyn genetics. His 8 Texels had an average index of 313, just a few points out with the top 1% of the breed.

After watching the sale SAC sheep specialist John Vipond said: “The message is getting across and people are buying increasingly on Index. “Basically they are buying genetics in the form of a naturally reared tup fit to serve 120 ewes without losing condition,” he added.

“The key message is that anyone buying a maternal breed such as the Lleyn without performance figures is taking a huge risk. They need to buy in traits that just can’t be seen by eye”.