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Award-winning Carswell Flock plays host to Westcountry Lleyn Club

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 08, 2012

The Sayers family's Lleyn ewe lambs for 2012: the ewes are out-wintered until ten days before lambing started on February 1, making maximum use of the early grass before it burns off

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A group of 51 members of the Westcountry Lleyn Sheep Breeders' Club met at Carswell Farm, Holbeton in the South Hams, for the club's annual open day.

Carswell has an incomparable setting overlooking the cliffs on the beautiful South Devon coast. Hostess Pel Sayers explained the history of the farm over the 60 years since her family took it over. The majority now houses a 500-cow organic dairy unit, while the Carswell Flock of Lleyns occupies a block of non-organic permanent pasture.

The flock was established almost 30 years ago and has set quality standards ever since. With very thin soils on the steep cliff fields, the terrain would be a challenge for any breed. Deceptively benign on a fine summer's day, it is a different story in winter when a south-westerly gale is blowing.

But the Lleyns thrive here and the reputation of Flock 284 speaks for itself.

Peter Honey, the Sayers' shepherd, is extremely well known in the Westcountry as a judge of sheep and ponies. He is acknowledged to have an excellent eye for stock and, as Mrs Sayers said: "If I were a sheep I would like to have Peter as my shepherd."

Mr Honey explained: "We have always focused on the outstanding maternal qualities of the Lleyn, producing medium-sized, very productive stock. Wether lambs are sold through Jaspers or Exeter Market, but our main aim is to produce quality breeding stock. We sell shearling ewes at the Exeter Society Sale. They are always in healthy demand."

Flock 284 rams may not be the biggest but they are of outstanding Lleyn type and are very stylish.

"They have gone to all parts of the country, from Cornwall to Cumbria, and have given good account of themselves," added Mr Honey. "The ewes are out-wintered until ten days before lambing starts on February 1, which suits the farm, making maximum use of the early grass before it burns off in a normal year. Lambing is usually in the region of 185 to 190 per cent."

The farm tour began with a display of sheep in the shed; stock rams, shearling ewes and the show team, which included the breed champions and reserves at Devon County and Royal Cornwall Shows this year.

Batches of ewe lambs and shearling ewes on the cliffs, looked like peas in a pod, and the visitors were impressed by the Lleyn ewes performing so well, rearing quality twins on less-than-perfect land and producing fine-pedigree breeding stock and prime butchers' lamb.

The open day provided an opportunity to share information, experiences and opinions.

The next society sale will be held at Exeter Livestock Centre on August 23, starting at 10am, when there will be 1,000 ewes, ewe lambs and rams on offer to suit both pedigree and commercial farmers.

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