27 August 2019
Usually in the dales and moors of North Yorkshire, you will find Swaledale and mule breeds, however one family with connections to Harper Adams University is successfully managing a thriving 500 strong flock of Romneys, alongside their MV accredited flock of 60 pedigree texels, a small flock of Swaledales, a small Beltex flock and their beef enterprise.
Nicola Bell, a Harper Adams alumna, and her soon-to-be husband Andrew Percy, farm in Jervaulx near Ripon, North Yorkshire. Around 12 years ago, Andrew switched from Mules to Romneys, largely due to the fact that they need less inputs and are able to look after themselves more. Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Andrew said: “Last year all of the ewes were tupped by a Romney, as our Romney wether lambs were outperforming those we were crossing with. They were finishing faster and were ready to go straight off grass.
“We lamb from April and have 150 elite Romneys from which we breed our own replacements. We market all of our lamb through Dunbia, at what was Dawn Meats in Carnaby near Bridlington as well as selling our own meat direct.”
Nicola travelled to New Zealand and Australia before studying at Harper Adams University and taking on various shepherding jobs.
Her love for sheep has also run onto her two sons Aaron, 15, and Luke, five. She said: “Aaron and Luke are both regulars in the young handler competitions and spend time halter training their sheep. Aaron’s proudest moment so far is having Texel breed champion at Wensleydale Show in 2015.” The family make for a successful showing team, not only at their local shows but also at the Great Yorkshire Show and Ryedale.
In January 2018, the couple started Springhill Beef & Lamb to sell meat direct from the farm. This includes Dexter beef which came about after Nicola and Andrew tried the beef that was produced from Dexters brought onto the farm to rear on to finish. The couple have 20 Dexter suckler cows which are put to their Dexter bull. Beef from the Dexters is also sold to Nicola’s brother’s company, Abbotside Events. The aim of the farm business is all about producing the best income from the stock.
Read the full story on the Yorkshire Post website: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/country-life/why-romney-sheep-are-best-break-from-north-yorkshire-farming-traditions-for-jervaulx-couple-1-9954427