Llanwenog Sheep Society in partnership with Bridgwater College
Any breed wanting to increase its market share must be brought to as wide an audience as possible & justify the claims made for it. The Llanwenog is no exception & an excellent opportunity arose in 2011 when Bridgwater College agreed to establish a flock at Rodway Farm, Cannington. Following successive purchases from the Nell & Langley flocks around 100 Llanwenogs now run alongside 150 predominantly Texel crosses originally derived from Mule ewes.
The increasing number of agricultural students at Cannington & the many visitors & other activities at the farm provide an excellent shop window for the breed. Press publicity has also been achieved & in 2013 the first award of the Trevor Kelland Memorial Bursary was made to assist two students with their project work on the breed.
But more importantly, how have the Llanwenogs performed compared to other sheep on the farm & what lessons have been learned? Steve Jones (farm manager) has observed that Llanwenogs are docile & easier to manage with lower levels of mortality, footrot & mastitis. It is important not to house them for two long on too dense a diet prior to lambing to avoid excess condition & in the most recent winter a diet of chopped hay & molasses with concentrates according to litter size proved effective as well as helping to prevent prolapses. In a comparative feed intake trial the Llanwenogs had a lower dry matter intake per ewe which, certainly helps justify the claims that the breed is economic. The breed has proved undaunted by harsh weather conditions & during the wet summer of 2012 the breed continued to thrive & their crossbred lambs were one kilo heavier at 50days. Similarly this year, Zac Gratton, noted in his project report that their crossbred lambs gained weight more evenly as a group & the breed coped well with the disruption caused by flooding earlier in the year.
Perhaps most strikingly of all, is the lower level of lamb losses during lambing which in the past three years have been at least 5% lower amongst the Llanwenogs than their Texel cross counterparts. The 2014 lambing proved particularly challenging in terms of disease & in a detailed analysis, David Curryer, found that abortions were 5% fewer amongst Llanwenog ewes as were total lamb losses resulting in a 12% better lambing percentage. The breed is certainly showing itself to be resilient in the face of disease & harsh weather as well as being economic by producing more weight of lambs per acre with easy management for good measure.
Lawrence Jones (Area Representative South West)