The Suffolk Flock was established at Rugley in 1976 and has been based on producing quality rams for use at home and sale at Kelso.
Lambing takes place in March, with ewes synchronised and AI used extensively. Ewes and lambs are housed for three weeks before being turned out to grass. Management is based on grass with no cabbage, rape or other forage crops grown. Labour inputs are low requiring sheep that can grow and thrive in a commercial environment.
Breeding policy is very much based on performance, with rams selected for growth rate and muscle depth. Performance recording is an important part of the breeding strategy beginning with ‘within flock’ records, progressing to the Sire Reference scheme and now ‘across flock’ records. This has enabled us to increase the Terminal Sire Index from 1.41 in 1999 to 4.15 in 2015. Although great emphasis is put on Recording and EBV’s we strive to combine this with good carcassed, ‘shapey’ sheep in order to satisfy our commercial customers’ needs as well as the Pedigree Breeder.
Together with on farm scanning we have made use of whole body scanning at the CT Scanning Unit at Edinburgh, taking 141 Suffolk Rams over the past 16 years. Selection is being improved using the C.T scanning as it delivers far greater accuracy in determining muscle, fat and bone percentages. Our animals have a vast amount of data behind them which means the figures of animals purchased from Rugley have a greater level of accuracy.
To enable rams to be used on the Cross Bred flock, most sales have been of Shearlings. However, with an increase in numbers some lambs are now sold and Suffolk rams and females are available for sale privately.
The Breeding programme was rewarded with success in 2015. Rugley were awarded First prize in the National Flock Competition for Flocks of over 101 ewes. We also won Best Large Flock and Best Stud Ram (Rugley Terrific) in the Northern Counties of England Competition.