Flock has no need to feel sheepish

Duncan Nelless and his Lleyn flock
Duncan Nelless and his Lleyn flock

A NORTHUMBERLAND sheep farmer is the best baa none when it comes to improving his flock.

For Duncan Nelless, who farms at Thistleyhaugh near Morpeth, has won the EBLEX Improved Flock Award for the Lleyn breed.

The award is organised through the Sheep Better Returns Programme and recognises the English performance-recorded flock that has shown the most impressive improvement in genetic merit within the breed over 12 months.

Mr Nelless’ pedigree Lleyn flock was established in 1995 as a replacement for a previous flock of Mules.

Along with his brother Angus, who runs an Aberdeen Angus commercial suckler enterprise at the farm, Mr Nelless decided on a change of breed to run a high health-status flock.

He has been collecting a wide range of data about the sheep since 2007 and in 2009 he joined the Signet database to help quantify genetic progress.

All commercially important traits have improved significantly due to selective breeding based on the performance figures.

Mr Nelless said: “Much faster progress can be made when breeding decisions are taken based on figures.”

EBLEX sheep breeding specialist Samuel Boon said: “Duncan has certainly taken the right approach to establishing his Lleyn flock. By recording and using EBVs (Estimated Breeding Values), he has found rams with the most profitable breeding potential for his pedigree enterprise and that of his customers.

“I congratulate him whole-heartedly on his success.”

Mr Nelless’ flock now stands at 1,200 ewes and 540 ewe lambs.