glenbrook farmGlenbrook Farm plans for the future

 

Glenbrook Farm, Baillies Mills, is currently undergoing a major change in its farming policy. The farm was purchased by Peter and Frances Lawson in 1993 from the well known pedigree breeder of cattle and sheep Mr A. Terence Robinson.

 

While much of Peter’s time has been spent developing his Banbridge Dental Practice, P G Lawson and Associates, during the last two years he and his wife Frances have focused on reorganising their farming businesses in Scotland and Co. Down, Northern Ireland.

 

The Co. Down farm consists of low land, some wet and some well drained. Most of the farm has been held in grass with some arable crop also grown.

 

The farm is now undergoing radical updating with a substantial reseeding and fencing programme to improve grassland for finishing early lambs. Well known pedigree sheep breeder Sean Doyle of Katesbridge and his son Liam have been integral in managing the stock and implementing the changes at Glenbrook.

 

The farming enterprise is based on delivering high quality lamb with good provenance to local butchers. With the current difficult market due mainly to the high price of sterling, Peter’s principal aims have been to run the enterprise with minimum input costs and to maximise his lamb prices.

 

As a major element in his planning to achieve this Peter has selected the Hampshire Down as his main terminal sire.

 

Alongside the pedigree Hampshire Downs, a commercial flock has been established with the purchase of 200 principally mule ewes, but it is intended to grow this with improvements in grassland quality.

 

In order to maximise lamb prices it is intended to develop a “branded” approach to the marketing of a major portion of the lamb crop. The Hampshire Down breed has long been noted as being “The Aberdeen Angus” of the sheep world due to interstitial fat within the muscle developing a top quality taste experience.

 

Peter, with other producers, intends to use this important consumer experience as the main point of difference over the standard offer and to support this is developing a range of Hampshire Down point of sale material to be used in the butcher’s premises so that the consumer can identify their eating experience with the breed.

 

The Hampshire Down was selected to use on the flock for economic reasons. Primarily this was the ability of the breed to deliver crossbred lambs of excellent conformation which could finish off grass only from as early as ten weeks of age. This is due to the breeds documented high conversion ratio making it one of the most efficient to turn grass into meat. That combined with their high growth rate makes the Hampshire crossbred lamb one of the cheapest to produce and this was considered a fundamental requirement in reducing input costs and maximising sustainable profitability.

 

Additionally to ensure maximum efficiency high index recorded rams have been used on the flock with particular attention paid to high growth rate EBV’s.

 

As Peter was keen to promote the eatablity of the Hampshire Down meat he has established a flock of about 30 pure bred ewes to produce prime early lamb for the Easter trade which will then be followed by the cross bred lambs. Additionally his marketing plan is to keep the best performing pure bred ram lambs to show and sell and his daughter Flora has enjoyed her first experience in showing those this season. Some are entered for the forthcoming Premier Hampshire Down sale on Monday the 3rd Aug at Ballymena Mart where they will be on sale with lambs from several other flocks.

 

The enterprise is now well established and despite the current difficult lamb  prices Peter’s view is that “I am committed to this route of maximizing efficiency in production and marketing as the only way forward for the future. Current farm prices mean this is essential in all our farming practices and we have to take this on board and ensure we continually review and update our systems to adapt to the market.”

 

 

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