The Fernleaf ram breeding programme is aimed at breeding rams which need less drenching and are resistant to worms and Facial Eczema. The nett result is less dags, less work for the farmer, healthier stock and greater profitability. Other breeding qualities include, high fertility, growth rate and ewe performance (mothering ability and easy care), fleece weight and quality as well as structural soundness including healthy feet.
Resistance vs. resilience
We feel that it is simpler to breed for resistance over resilience and, in any case, who wants resilient sheep that tolerate worms by scouring and producing dags? The reason for our move towards worm-resistant sheep was that we and many of our fellow farmers foresaw that worm resistance to drenches was going to become a key issue. There are two issues here:
- Parasites’ resistance to drenches
- The sheep’s own resistance to parasites
In addition, resistance has high heritability. More and more we find that farmers are coming to understand and welcome this approach.
Structural soundness (including healthy feet)
Over the years many farmers have become suspicious of “computer-bred” sheep but this has never became an issue in the Fernleaf flock, as we always put enormous selection pressure on “structural soundness“ with special attention on sound feet. We have so much faith in this practice that we now “guarantee” the feet of our rams for 12 months. We are in the process of preparing rams to showcase the rams coming on to the market this season and will be displaying what we have to offer on this site. See also information elsewhere on this site.
‘Reduce Worms & Dags’ by Dr Clive Dalton Reducing the need for drenching, dagging, and then more crutching to prevent dagging, are major ways to control costs…
The Wormwise programme. Information on the national programme.
Frequently Asked Questions Questions often asked by farmers