Robert Hodgkins  -  Using genomic selection technology to advance the development of a ovine maternal breeding line

South of England Agricultural Society

31 year old Sheep farmer from West Sussex.

Locks Farm is a tenanted 1,400 acre farm, most of which is situated within the South Downs National Park. 90% of our grassland in permanent pasture and is the farmed under the South Downs ESA regime where no fertiliser or chemical is permitted, therefore there is very little we can do to manipulate or extend our grazing season.

Productivity of some of the swards would be considered very low – the ESA agreement stipulates an annual maximum stocking rate of 3 ewes per acre. The farm rises up to 783ft above sea level, and field contours range from flat ground at home to steep banks upon the downs.

We are large commercial family run sheep farm running 3000 plus NZ Romney ewes. The farm is a spread out unit (25 miles round trip to visit every flock) on good to mediocre grassland, land class 3-5. We operate a single breed, closed flock and take great care and interest in selecting future progeny to make shepherding as enjoyable and stress free as possible.  We are one of the largest Signet recorded flocks in the country, single sire mating and recording over 1500 ewes and there progeny per year.  We sell high quality, NZ Romney rams and females, this year we have sold around 110 2 tooth rams, and all of the breeding females (800+) we had for sale.

First day off

Saturday - decided to take a stroll and collect my thoughts about the first week

Posted by Robert Hodgkins on November 3, 2012

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Well first week in Oz is almost complete has been very busy so it’s nice to get some time to just contemplate how far I have come!  Having spent Sunday night to Tuesday night cramped on a plane all Wednesday cramped in a Toyota driving to Armidale and then 2 days sat down talking to a lot of very very clever doctors and professors at University of New England my legs were screaming at me to get a bit active. One of the university staff suggested I visit the New England national park – determined to stick to the unofficial Nuffield mantra of never say no I figured it was just what I needed, go for a bit of a hike in the rainforest to see what I could find!

What an experience. When I got to the park there was a choice of trails from gentle through to what they classed as “experienced” naturally been fairly young and stupid I opted for the experienced 7 hour round hike, after all I have been walking for 30 years surely that classed me as experienced?! Having checked my pack back  I had 6 cans of extra-large redbull type drink and a large packet of high carb chocolate bars so I figured I was good to go.  What an incredible walk it was nothing like walking in England where there is a signpost every 5 mins and well laid out tracks - this was something else pathways along shear drops, inclines that seemed to never end, no real trail marks as such and as I found out as I went around a small forest fire! It was an amazing walk my legs are now jelly and I realise I am not as fit as I thought I was but I got some incredible video and pictures and had an absolute blast that is defiantly going to stick in my mind for a while, and yes I did manage to get to the top got some pictures of me at the very top of point lookout the second highest peak in the snowy range (according to Wikipedia!)

Having fulfilled my Bear Gyrills wantabe dreams I decided to arrive back to Armidale only to see what could only be described as a uniquely southern hemisphere shop – A  drive through liquor store



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