The College now runs a flock of 240 Mule ewes, 80 Poll Dorset X Mules and 85 Lleyns, with a view for 2003 to reduce the mules by 60 and increase the Lleyns by the same amount. Replacement ewes are bred using Poll Dorset rams in order to better carcase quality from the finished lambs. The Mule and Lleyn ewes are to be grouped and mated to Suffolk, Lleyn, Texel, Berrichon, Ile de France, Dorset Down and Hampshire Down rams, to lamb in March. The Lleyn ewes, which are bred with the Lleyn rams, will increase flock size in the future. The lambs produced from the different groups will be monitored for growth rates and taste tests will be undertaken.
The Poll Dorset X Mule ewes are being served for January lambing with Suffolk and Texel rams.
During the autumn the flock grazes around the farm clearing up grass left by cattle. Lambing facilities are provided at Notton Farm, the March lambing ewes being concentrate fed for six to eight weeks pre-lambing. The early flock are fed as the March flock, but the lambs are all fed creep feed until finished. The use of concentrates for the March lambing ewes is curtailed when the flock moves to summer grazing. The flock is split for summer grazing and ewes rearing triplets are grazed separately and concentrate creep food is provided for their lambs. Integration of cattle and sheep grazing occurs on the farm to avoid worm build up and reduce vets costs and maximise growth rates.
Lambs are sold for slaughter from mid-summer onwards (to date 573 lambs have been sold - 78% of the total born, averaging £38.44) and after weaning remaining lambs are finished off on grass or roots and sold as stores. After weaning, ewes are grazed on a reduced area prior to preparations for tupping.
Students on an active demonstration basis undertake routine treatments for the flock and the students are also involved in lambing and shearing the flock.