We are the Mann family and we have been running our Somerset based farm business since the early 1980s when we acquired our first field and began finishing store lambs.
Over the next 20 years the farm grew into a 200 acre mixed arable and commercial sheep enterprise, peaking at 450 head of breeding ewes.
But then, with the new Century came a new approach. We knew that a 200 acre farm was not big enough for a viable modern commercial sheep business – we simply did not have enough land to run a profitable number of ewes.
But we also knew what we, as commercial sheep farmers, wanted in our rams and replacement ewes. We wanted:
- Rams that are more cost effective because they can serve more ewes in a season;
- Rams that live longer and do not fall apart;
- Ewes that live longer and produce more crops of preferably twin lambs;
- Ewes that are good on their feet and that are not excessively greedy and costly to feed;
- A ewe /ram combination that would produce fast growing, well conformed lambs.
With this in the forefront of our minds we decided to gradually phase out our commercial flock and that we would endeavour to produce the sort of replacement sheep that we as commercial farmers would want.
With a science background and keen interest in genetics (ignited by her success in breeding her own prize winning Suri Alpaca herd), Imogen Mann set about selecting the breeds that would do the job.
We chose the Lleyn for its prolificacy, strong maternal traits, smaller size (for easier handling) and resilience. We also like the look of them!
We chose the Texel because it is still the number one terminal sire breed and we had over 20 years of experience with using Texel rams.
Basically, and perhaps not too scientifically when it comes down to it, we decided to work with two breeds we like and which we also knew complemented each other well.
And so, in 2003 we entered the world of pedigree sheep breeding with the purchase of our first registered Lleyn stock. The first registered Texel breeding ewes arrived three years later in 2006 when we also started using EID to help us monitor and record our progress.
Now, with more than 10 years of pedigree breeding under out belts, we are really beginning to see the fruits of our labours and that we are producing stock to be proud of.
It has not all been plain sailing, and 2013 was a particularly difficult year. But, 2014 has started as we mean for it to continue – with new systems adopted and an enthusiastic team working in harmony. An excellent lamb crop to boot too.
It is our mission to produce rams and replacement ewes that are fit for purpose. To that end we manage our sheep commercially, only produce rams off grass and never provide supplementary feeds to promote growth when pasture is available.