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Why Maes-Glas Hampshire Down Sheep

Eirlys using the AEG ARE H5 EID device as part of a foot rot susceptibility check
Eirlys using the AEG ARE H5 EID device as part of a foot rot susceptibility check

Maes-Glas Farm has been exclusively breeding pedigree Hampshire Down Sheep since 1995. During this time we have embraced performance recording technology and this combined with our unique and rigorous methods of additional recording and monitoring means that our Hampshire Down Rams and Ewes can thrive and perform under all management systems.

We take great pride in our recording and monitoring system, scrutinising the genetics for characteristics that go beyond the EBVs that are currently monitored as part of the performance recording criteria. Whilst lamb growth, fat and muscle depth are critical characteristics that we regularly monitor and record as part of our retention strategy, we also take into account many other factors such as genetic longevity, genetic foot rot susceptibility, scrapie resistance, maternal instincts, wool quality, milk yield, and lambing ease and lamb vigour at birth. We have embraced EID technology and currently use BOTH the AEG ARE H5 and the Gallagher HR3 Smartreader to assist in the record keeping of such additional traits. When we combine this information with that of performance recording as provided by Signet, we end up with a detailed, scientific and objective, selection strategy. In addition, for each lamb that is produced on the farm we record extensive information in relation to our retention strategy. For example, regarding lambs that were selected for cull we record detailed analysis of why it was selected for cull in addition to the analysis provided at the abattoir, such as grading, carcass weight and carcass value. This information is then used to examine our selection of the sire and dam of the lamb in addition to future selection strategy of those genetics.

Eirlys using the Gallagher H3 SmartReader EID device as part of a breeding productivity check
Eirlys using the Gallagher H3 SmartReader EID device as part of a breeding productivity check
Ram Lambs awaiting a weighing and management check at stage 1 in our selection and retention strategy
Ram Lambs awaiting a weighing and management check at stage 1 in our selection and retention strategy

We are also strong advocates of the performance recording and the work of Signet and have been fully recorded members of the Sire Reference Scheme since 2007. Naturally, the recording and objective analysis of birth weight and 8 week weights also plays an important role in our retention strategy. In addition, we annually measure and analyse Estimate Breeding Values (EBVs) in relation to eye muscle depth and fat depth using on farm back fat scanning that utilises the latest ultrasound equipment. However, CT scanning can produce even greater accuracy and also provides addition values including Gigot shape, killing out percentage, muscle/bone ratio, muscle/fat ratio, percentage muscle in the leg, loin, chest, eye muscle area, and whole body carcass quality measures for fat, muscle and bone. We at Maes-Glas have regularly used the CT scanning technology as part of our ram retention process. It is not a cheap process, but we believe that this has facilitated in our progression, which in turn, can only serve as a positive for our client.

Maes-Glas Ewes awaiting a routine management and adult weighing check
Maes-Glas Ewes awaiting a routine management and adult weighing check

Over the years, we have travelled across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, examining different farm management systems and researching genetics to some great detail. Any sheep we purchase to widen our genetic pool is carefully scrutinised. We use the management system BASCO to explore the EBVs of the sheep in addition to its productivity. As you can see when exploring our stock rams section of this website, our attention to detail in relation to why a ram was purchased or retained as a stock ram is extensive, only enhancing our progression.

The Hampshire Down prides itself on its reputation as a hardy terminal sire breed that can thrive on any management system in any location and we at Maes-Glas are certainly advocates of this status. The Maes-Glas Flock is a commercial enterprise with over 100 pedigree breeding Ewes. Whilst we have achieved unprecedented success in the show ring, our management system is run on an easy care system with our entire flock out wintered on a forage based diet. Irrespective of the weather, our sheep are outdoors and treated fairly, but on some on a stringent system in which the breed has to showcase its resilience.

We are a firm believer in outdoor lambing as this reduces the risk of infections, such as Mastitis, and the natural habitat causes less stress on the Ewe. In addition, this start can also increase vigour and resilience in the lamb. Consequently, all of our ewes lamb outdoors from December, even in the harshest of winters. Our philosophy is that if a sheep can thrive at Maes-Glas then it can thrive anyway. A visit to Maes-Glas will show that we do not molly cuddle our sheep as it is our aim to produce this resilient and vigorous terminal sire that can thrive in any conditions. Our testimonial page shows how the Maes-Glas Hampshire Down can thrive on all management systems on any type of land.

As stated, the Maes-Glas Hampshire Down Flock is a commercial enterprise and we are proud to showcase the very best qualities of this tremendous terminal sire breed. Only the best sheep that meet our rigorous criteria are retained and consequently any animal sold for breeding are animals that meet this criteria. We have often been asked if we would sell animals intended for slaughter for a shepherd to “try out” a Hampshire Down and our answer has always been no. Our philosophy is that any sheep that does not meet our rigorous criteria might not be as efficient and that is no advertisement for the breed or the Maes-Glas Flock specifically. Consequently, all sheep that are offered for sale for breeding are animals that we would be happy to retain and place as part of our flock. Only sheep that we know that has thrived and performed at Maes-Glas, we are prepared to sell as breeding stock.

Maes-Glas Hampshire Down Ram Lambs at CT scanning with the resulting scanned image
Maes-Glas Hampshire Down Ram Lambs at CT scanning with the resulting scanned image

We are passionate supporters of the breed’s society initiatives and each summer we exhibit in a large number of shows. Over the past two decades we have achieved some unprecedented showing success including Interbreed Pairs and Interbreed Ram Lamb at the Royal Welsh Show, Interbreed Pairs and Interbreed Group of Three at the Royal Three Counties Show, Interbreed Championships and Interbreed Group of Three at Pembrokeshire County Show, Breed Championships at the Royal Highland Show and the Royal Cornwall Show and Champion Lowland at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair. We particularly enjoy showing against other breeds in “lowland” or “any other breed” classes as this provides a chance to showcase the breed against other terminal sires and opportunity for judges, who might not be a Hampshire Down breeder, to see a Maes-Glas Hampshire Down in the flesh. We believe that our rigorous selection policy has certainly enhanced our flock aesthetically and we were delighted to have been awarded champion stock rams at the 2015 United Kingdom Breed Society Flock Competition. These stock rams will be siring our lambs for years to come.

Exporting is something we also have a great passion in. Our Flock is both Scrapie Monitored and Genotyped and we are full members of the Sire Reference Scheme. Our flock has achieved full status with the Farm Assured Welsh Livestock (FAWL) scheme making our animals ideal for exporting. We are proud to have exported livestock to Romania, Abu Dhabi, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with some excellent feedback. We are keen to continue to showcase how the Maes-Glas Hampshire Down can thrive in other countries and continents and we are happy to make arrangement for the exporting of livestock or frozen semen wherever the location.

Consequently, we feel that our management system meets the needs of all types of farmers. Our selection criteria also incorporates the traditions of the Hampshire Down breed which can provide an excellent foundation for those who may be interested in competing across agricultural shows. Our commitment to agricultural shows is unparalleled and we are always enthused to see breeders using our genetics in the show ring. Naturally, we also consider the traditions of the breed in relation to showing in our selection policy and we are always keen to help those in relation to selecting for show.

57U1500566 Maes-Glas RoyalWelshBoy Interbreed Ram Lamb Champion Royal Welsh Show, 2015. SRS 295 (top 5{3eb0ad736e9e4720aec14cdefc5dfea1cbbf72ece838d203e0a2440931676d80} of breed) retained as a stock ram

In addition, our easy care approach, in which the sheep has passed every selection hurdle of our rigorous system means that our sheep are fit for purpose and will thrive and perform under any system. The out wintered, forage based system that we operate results in vigorous and resilient rams and ewes, whose performance in a number of traits are continually recorded and monitored. Our focus and attention on genetics, combined with our continues management and recording has resulted in the Maes-Glas Hampshire Down being the low maintenance terminal sire of choice under any conditions due to their food conversion abilities, longevity and high health status.

Over the years we have a loyal base of customers who have been most satisfied with the Maes-Glas Hampshire Down. Nothing makes us more proud of receiving positive feedback in relation to our rams, ewes and lambs who have been sold a number of whom have written a few comments as testimonials on this website.

Maes-Glas Stock Rams, awarded Champion Stock Rams in the United Kingdom Flock Competition, 2015
Maes-Glas Stock Rams, awarded Champion Stock Rams in the United Kingdom Flock Competition, 2015
Breed Champion Group of Three, Royal Welsh Show 2015. All three sheep were out of a homebred Sire and Dam
Breed Champion Group of Three, Royal Welsh Show 2015. All three sheep were out of a homebred Sire and Dam