Lavendon Suffolks History

Kersey Nutcracker

Kersey Nutcracker

The Flock was established in 1958, which makes us one of the oldest flocks in the Suffolk Flockbook, by my grandfather Tony Cony when he purchased 10 ewe hoggs from the Elmdon Flock owned by A Duke & Son. He added a few ewes from a local breeder in the next few years and had a flock of about 20 ewes until the 1980's when the flock size was increased to over 100 ewes by the 1990's. For many years he bred his own rams and sold a few to local commercial flocks, stock rams were purchased privately from top local flocks such as Bentley and Whichford.

On my return from university in 1995 we decided to try and market the rams we were producing in a more coherent way, and rather than use the show ring it was decided that the way forward was to performance record and promote the sheep to commercial flocks on the basis of their performance rather than their looks. After two years of in-flock recording we joined the Suffolk Sire Reference Scheme in 1998 and were active members until the Scheme disbanded last year. By using the best genetics available over the last 14 years we have been able to improve our flock index from a starting point of only £0.87 to £2.88 in 2011, which has moved us into the top 10% of the breed. Along the way we have won the BRP progressive flock award in 2005 and have been placed in other years.

The Suffolks have always been run alongside any commercial ewes that we have on the farm traditionally it was mule or home bred mule crosses, and so our suffolks are used to performing in a commercial system and they do not receive any preferential treatment, apart from not going to the butchers. As we are now an MV acrredited flock it is harder to source commercial MV ewes and so we now produce our own ewes using a Bluefaced Leicester on old Suffolk ewes that we have dropped out of the 'nucleus' flock.

All of our rams are sold off farm in their working clothes, mainly we are selling shearling rams as that is what our customers want although we do still sell a few ram lambs, and we are now selling in excess of 30 rams a year.

We are hoping that this year will once again see a large improvement in our figures as we purchased a new stock ram Kersey Nutcracker, who has outstanding growth figures and an overall index of £5.70, as well as increasing our number of lambs born to over 200.