WHAT THE BREEDERS SAY

Stuart Wood

Aberdeenshire

Breeders Stuart Wood and Stasa Moyse are renowned for producing the best in several sheep breeds. They run small flocks of Beltex, Blue Texel, Dassenkop, Dutch Spotted and Dutch Texels together at their farm near Skene, Aberdeenshire.

Stuart and Stasa have had great success with embryo progeny from each breed over the years and continue to do so. Their embryo lambs and shearlings often dominate the Beltex sales each year, Carlisle Premier Sale 2020 was a huge success for Stuart selling Woodies Emperor ET for 14,000gns. His dam is Stuart’s inter-breed champion from the 2018 Royal Highland Show that sold privately for £20,000, Woodies City Girl who is also ET progeny.

Stuart comments “our Beltex flock and especially the embryos do the flock proud winning regular championships and topping various sales. Every year is memorable, this year we finally caught our breath and came down to earth after a fantastic 4 days in Carlisle. Our shearling rams topped the shearling trade at 16000gns and 14000gns on the Thursday and 14000gns on the Friday and then to top of an unbelievable few days, one of our gimmers sold for the joint top gimmer price of 7000gns on the Saturday. Giving us an average of £3407 for 29 sheep sold. Stuart and Stasa added yet another string to their bow at the Badger Face Texel sale at Carlisle in 2020, setting another new high of 5500gns. Selling for that new breed record was the shearling ram, Woodies All Muscle, bred from imported genetics on both sides using AI and ET.

“These top prices may not have been possible without ET, with natural service I couldn’t have bred enough lambs to both keep and sell. If I have a good flush I am able to keep females as replacements and also sell full sisters as gimmers the following season.”

Stasa’s Blue Texels were also a flying trade and very much in demand this year at the Society sale in Augus, leading the female trade and taking the top 4 female prices. Her 6000gns gimmer and the two gimmers at 4500gns were all ET sisters out of her show ewe Saltire A Beauty, and the gimmer 5500gns was also ET bred. Stasa says “If I didn’t do ET work with AB Europe I wouldn’t have had all these gimmers to sell, if breeding naturally, I would stereotypically have one or two lambs born of each ewe, and as I run a very small flock and I would probably want to keep the all of my females lambs!”

“Stasa and I also use ET to improve the quality and increase the genetic potential in our flocks. As we buy in older imported ewes of all breeds, ET means we can potentially get more lambs out of them each season without putting them under pressure to rear their own lambs. We flush our best ewes in September and October and the majority are served naturally afterwards which suits our system perfectly so we can farm and I can do my day job!”

Robert Cockburn

Perthshire

Perthshire breeder Robert Cockburn, runs a 35 ewe Texel flock along with Mules and Scottish Blackface sheep and has been using our ET services for over 10 years. Robert says “so far this year, I’ve sold at the Texel Society Scottish National, Welsh National and English National Sale, as well as the Solway and Tyne sale and Kelso ram sales. All 20 ram lambs and all 9 gimmers have been ET bred sheep, with a top of 8,500gns and average of 2,000gns for the lambs, and top of 5,800gns and average of 2,000gns for the gimmers. Without a doubt in my time of using embryo transfer, the majority if not all of my best priced gimmers and ram lambs have been embryo progeny.”

At the Scottish National sale at Lanark in 2015, Robert sold ram lamb Knap Vicious Sid for 145,000gns, now the fourth highest priced Texel, and in the top 10 most expensive sheep in the UK! Knap Vicious Sid was an ET son of Tamnamoney Tuborg Gold and out Robert’s show winning ewe by Baltier Rascal I.

Robert comments “I use ET to maximise the number of lambs I can get from my best ewes. I am happy with my results (most years!), and will always continue to use embryo transfer. I often flush a few of my best older breeding females in the winter, therefore I have frozen embryos in the tank, to preserve the genetics.”

Alan & Ben Wight, Midlock

Lanarkshire

Clients Allan Wight and son Ben of Midlock, run together with shepherd Brian Gilchrist, flocks of Texel, Blackface and Bluefaced Leicester on their family farm in Lanarkshire. They are regular faces amongst the show and sale rings often securing championships and achieving high prices for each breed throughout Scotland and Northern England. 

Kelso ram sales 2020, re-scheduled to Lanark Auction mart due to Covid-19, proved to be a success for the Wights as Midlock averaging £2604 for 11 shearlings, with a top of £9000 for Midlock Capone an ET bred ram by Knock Bantastic. The Scottish Premier Sale of Texels also held at Lanark Auction mart, saw the Wight’s top the sale in 2019 with Midlock Capaldi, an ET lamb, who’s dam was bred by Mullan Amigo who was also an ET bred lamb himself for Brian Hanthorn.

Carlisle Solway and Tyne Club sale was another success for the Wights with their Texels, with ram lamb 6000gns for Midlock Cracker, a single embryo born from a successful late ewe lamb flush in 2019.

As we all know ET isn’t successful every time, however Allan and Ben had a success story with a late October flush with a Bluefaced Leicester ewe lamb. In this case we recovered 10 embryos sired by their home bred ram F27 Midlock Mustang and out of a ewe by the £11,000 E1 Hewgill, bought a couple of years ago at Hawes. The 10 embryos were transferred into recipients and they all held; leaving 8 ram lambs and 2 ewe lambs on the ground. Three of these ram lambs went on to sell at Hawes topping the sale at £15,000 – G33 sold in a two-way split to clients Andrew Campbell and Jamie Pirie. Ram lamb G35 made £11,000 and another at £10,000 respectively.

Allan comments, we use AI and ET as a tool, to produce more quality sheep from our best breeding families, flushing ewes and ewe lambs in the breeding season increases our genetic gain. Without ET, we would have a limited number of lambs out of our best lines and therefore wouldn’t have as many to sell as we would keep them all.