We added a small South Suffolk stud to our operation in 1998 having grown up with the breed on my parents’ hill country farm and seen outstanding lines of lambs at weaning. I can recall seasons when up to 90% of Romney/South Suffolk cross lambs would be prime at weaning at very impressive weights.
The breed was first registered in 1955 after being stabilised as a Southdown/Suffolk cross in order to combine the meaty early maturing attributes of the Southdown with the growthy Suffolk. Since that time the resulting South Suffolk breed has been renowned for producing big weaning drafts and lambs that readily grow on, hence they are often referred to as the ‘bomb proof’ hill country terminal breed. At weaning last season our lambs averaged just over 42kgs (incl. ewe hogget progeny) from a pregnancy scanning of 184%. ie 80% of the lambs were multiples.
What is now also starting to be appreciated is that the breed is particularly suitable for hogget mating given their moderate size at birth and clean shoulders plus their rapid growth after they hit the ground. The fact that South Suffolk cross progeny are able to be readily identified and are very easy to sell as stores, if need be, adds to their appeal.
Since 1998 we have grown the flock by purchasing quality ewes from flocks that were being dispersed, and these acquisitions have helped enhance and broaden our genetic base. We are now at the point where we mate approximately 250 ewes plus hoggets and sell around 100 2th rams annually.
We operate a very strict breeding programme that places a lot of emphasis on early lamb growth (weaning weight), good carcass characteristics (meat in loin & hindquarter), structural soundness (especially feet) and of course constitution.
All sale rams have been eye muscle scanned since day one and our South Suffolks are run alongside our Romneys on unfertilised hill country.
South Suffolk ram prices range from $500-$800. Rams are sold on farm from late November.
Our numbers are continuing to increase each season and therefore we can usually accommodate new clients at any price level.
We endeavour to provide clients with a minimum of 4 rams to pick from for every ram that they are looking to buy ie we would normally give a client twenty rams to pick five from and they would all be of a similar quality.
We always try to allow sufficient time for clients to be able to relax around the smoko table and we never rush the ram picking process!