Student Sheep Project Heads the Market – Success for Easy Cares from SRUC Barony

Published Wednesday, 17th October 2012 in Education news

Barony Sheep

A visit to Borderway Market in Carlisle proved lucrative for a student team from SRUC’s Barony Campus near Dumfries.

Attending the annual sale of Easy Care sheep they made two top prices for their breeding females and the day’s second highest call in the males.

The Barony Flock of Easy Cares was established in 2010 supported by and in conjunction with Asda.  The original group of 60 ewes was bought from the breed’s Anglesey-based developer Iolo Owen and used to investigate the alternative management options available in the modern sheep industry.

Easy Care is a revolutionary breed requiring minimal shepherding and veterinary care and is well established in Britain. It does not need shearing and offers excellent meat yields and lambing crops. The Easy Care Sheep Society was formed to promote the breed and to ensure its continued development.

Success for the Barony flock began early. The first lamb crop, in spring 2011, produced the top-priced ram lamb at the Carlisle sale of 500 guineas. This year the shearling ram, from the flocks Ireby Hall sire, commanded 550gns, selling to Mr Brian Atkinson of Scratchmere Scar, Plumpton. Mr Atkinson’s son, Jake, who was part of the Barony student group, commented that the family’s new purchase was “a fine example of the breed, who stood well and was well presented.”

In the female section, SRUC Barony led the way with two pens of shearling ewes trading at £152 and £145, both bought by Coney Farms, Grantham, Lincolnshire.

The students at the sale are currently studying for a National Certificate in Agriculture at Barony. Their Easy Care project is part of a Sheep Care and Flock Management module. Students study breeding strategies, nutritional planning and preparing animals for sale. Flock manager David Aitken, who leads the practical aspects of study, said that Easy Care were selected as they proved the ideal breed for students to learn from.

Student Hannah Haigh from Lancashire, feels the Easy Care initiative:

“Provides an invaluable way of understanding how the practical and theory sides of sheep management work together. Focusing on this particular breed of sheep also highlights how there are different approaches to pursuing profitability.’

Special thanks go to students Murray Brash, Hannah Haigh, Jake Atkinson and Cailean Knapp for their enthusiasm and efforts in preparing the sheep for sale under the guidance of Davie Aitkin.

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