`Easy care’ sheep to go on sale

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By DAVID HILL

“Shedding sheep” will be the focus of a sale at the Hawarden Saleyards next week.

Hazlett Livestock will host its first annual “shedding sheep sale” on Wednesday, January 19, from 3.30pm.

The sale builds on a growing interest in “easy care” sheep, Hazlett Livestock stock agent Alex Jarman says.

He says there will be a mix of Wiltshire, Australian whites and “Meatmaster” sheep on sale, including rams, ewes and ewe lambs.

“It came about from a conversation with Daniel Wheeler, of Amberley, and Chris Ensor, of Cust, and they wanted to make a feature of shedding sheep, so we made it happen,” Mr Jarman says.

“With the way wool prices are, there seems to a demand for an alternative farming option.”

The sale coincides with the well-established Mt Cass on-farm sale, which will be held at 1pm on the same day and features Wiltshire sheep.

Sheep breeds such as Wiltshire, Australian whites, Dorper and Damara are known as “hair sheep”, as they naturally shed their wool, meaning they don’t need to be shorn.

Mr Wheeler introduced Dorper and Damara rams to his flock in 2006, crossing them with his Finn and Texel ewes in a bid to produce a low cost, high output, hybrid breed. The result was the “Meatmaster” sheep breed.

“The aim then and now was to produce a flock that had low labour and dollar costs and high output,” Mr Wheeler says. “Farm staff are scarce, so the more we can reduce the work on farm the better.

“A clean shedding, structurally sound ewe that can hold condition and produce robust lambs with high lamb survival, good growth and carcass traits.”

As well as the “Meatmasters”, Mr Wheeler has produced Finn and Texel-cross ewes which still need to be shorn, but without the added costs of crutching, tailing, dipping and combating flystrike.

It is hoped the sale will become an annual event.