As promised my feedback on Suffolk Rams on Arcott Ewes:
Based on Analysis of the Dec/99 through Apr/00 lambing of 1237 ewes, finishing and shipping we measured an increase in birth weights of 2.3 lbs, weaning weights of 10.6 lbs and 100 day weights of approximately 21 lbs over pure Rideau Arcott breeding.
Our ewe flock is primarily 2-3 years old and dropped an average of 1.91 lambs/ewe/lambing. We expect 30% of the adult ewe flock to lamb twice each year. We use Suffolk rams from Bill Duffield on Rideau Arcotts for seasonal breeding after the ewe's first lambing. We are extremely pleased with the results we are achieving and the buyers of our lambs are equally enthusiastic. We shipped 65 lambs yesterday at an average weight of 97 lbs and aged 94-133 days for $1.39/lb.
This is the highest price for this size lambs we've ever received.
Looking forward to our next batch of rams. We will breed 3000 ewes in 2000 (ie 2000 ewe flock breeding every 8 months). We will use Suffolk rams on 250 ewes/month during May/June/July for the first time.
I'm hopeful that they enjoy breeding out of season to sponged ewes.
Of interest, we've had 117 ewes lamb in the last 19 days with a lambing percentage 2.2 (no singles, 81 twins, 24 triplets, 4 quads, 1 quint). Smallest lambs weighed 4 lbs and 0 lambs have died so far. Apparently the Suffolks are happy to breed in late Dec and early Jan.
These are primarily 3 year old ewes who lambed in October. We are pleased with these results.
For those interested, the following testimonial is from Canadian friends. The commercial producer is from Manitoba, and appears to be lambing 3000 ewes/year.
If my calculation is correct, this commercial producer has 3000*1.9*10.6 lbs more to sell @ $1.39/lb = $83,983 using Suffolk rams. Still a lot of money if you include 20% feed cost reduction. Needless to say that much of this profit is due to using a Terminal sire rather than a Maternal one, but the difference in performance is quite large. I suspect also that the Maternal line (Rideau Arcott) has more than adequate milk to support the additional growth of the Suffolk-sired lambs.
I would not be surprised either if the lamb survival from the Rideau-Arcott ewes mated to Suffolk is higher, partly due to heterosis, but mostly due to higher birth weights of the lambs (necessary to have in a high-twining/tripleting environment.
In any case, this commercial producer really made a lot of money using genetics wisely.