Quality rams key for Cambridgeshire farmer

Quality rams are the key to success for Cambridgeshire farmer John Kerley's closed ewe flock.He runs 500 ewes and needs reliable rams to produce the lambs to supply butchers every week of the year.

Quality rams are the key to success for Cambridgeshire farmer John Kerley's closed ewe flock.

He runs 500 ewes and needs reliable rams to produce the lambs to supply butchers every week of the year.

Mr Kerley, who farms near Swavesey, said that carcase quality was paramount. 'The ram is half the flock and I need to have the right ram to tup my ewes to produce quality replacements. John Maxwell is a very good breeder and grows his tups well.'

Mr Kerley buys the best rams he can and particularly looks for those with exceptional fleshing. In addition, they must be well grown and sound in all other physical areas.


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'Performance figures are good in their place, and in careful hands,' he said. 'But I would lose the skill of my job if I relied upon figures alone.'

Kent farmer Robert Vant and cousin Richard, and his son Roger, work a mixed family farm on the North Downs with 142ha of arable, 300 beef suckler stores and 25 suckler cows and 400 North Country Mule ewes.

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They also buy up to 200 ewe lambs a year. They put Charollais rams on the ewe lambs for the first time three years ago rather than a Suffolk, for easier lambing.

'We went to Ashford sale where John Maxwell's shearling rams stood head and shoulders above everything else that day,' said Mr Vant. 'Those were the first Charollais rams we bought.'

And they have not disappointed; the Charollais cross lambs have been vigorous at birth and easy to lamb, and consistently earn a �2-�3 premium in their finished price over the Suffolk crosses.

'We trust John Maxwell completely as a breeder - his shearling rams are impressive and hold together well,' said Mr Vant. 'Pleasingly, the rams once brought home do not melt away; they are fit and do an exceptional job for us.'

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