Regional Contact Member – Tom Green
The Eastern region Show season culminated in five exhibitors competing at Heckington Show where John Fozzard found his champion in Charlie and David Coe’s homebred shearling with their ewe lamb in reserve. Heckington marked my own return to the show ring since Covid but unfortunately my foray was marred by my ewe lamb’s refusal to stand nicely for any longer than two seconds and we had to settle for second place behind the reserve champion.
The regions members have been out in force buying quality tups from the Shows and Sales. The Worcester Sale champion, Grove Nero found a new home in Ben Coe’s Typhoon flock, while from the same sale Blackadder Raptor joined the Sandall’s Glen Bank flock. Onto Carlisle for the Scottish Sale and the reserve champion, Beiliau Lancaster, was picked up to return to the region by the Coates family for their Ashmere flock. We look forward to seeing the progeny of these rams on the show circuit next year so no pressure guys.
Onto our own Show and Sale at Melton Mowbray and, unfortunately, there were only two competitors on the Friday although the inspection team still commented on the strength of the ewe lamb class. My ewe lamb took champion with Charlie and David Coe’s ram lamb reserve. It would be lovely to see more vendors able to compete on the Friday next year if possible. I won’t bore you again with details of the sale as these are reported elsewhere but I would just like to congratulate Sally Brothwell on her top price having recently seen the light and hopped over the border from Central region so her sheep can reside in the Eastern region. I would like to thank all the vendors and purchasers for their support, David Tuffney for judging and the inspection team of Clive Richardson, Scott Dalrymple and Jean Simmons for giving up a long weekend to support the sale.
The Sykes’ family Stowe flock
The first open day for six years was kindly hosted by the Sykes family, Stowe Heights flock. The Sykes run 35 breeding ewes on their 30-acre smallholding which revolves around their market garden enterprise and is run with a focus on regenerative agriculture. It was a pleasure to welcome members from the Eastern, Central and Southern regions and after the obligatory tea and biscuits to start the day we began by looking at some young chicks ranging from 1-3 weeks old which will join the laying flock of Light Sussex birds next year. There were even some chicks hatching on the day. Alf took great pride in showing of his quail, from which he sells the eggs.
We then looked at the geese and turkeys the family were rearing for the Christmas tables of their customers, with one member particularly reminiscent about expanding his own flock of geese (go for it Charlie) and several others discussing their benefits as a burglar deterrent.
We were all impressed by the bodies and overall quality of the flock’s breeding ewes but it was Alf and Gilly’s favourite ewe, Matilda, incidentally the winner of the plate for best ewe in last year’s flock competition who was most happy to pose and show off for photographs, while the stock ram, Highpeak Priapus, also impressed with his quality and nature.
Alf Sykes with Matilda, winner of the best ewe category in the Eastern Region Flock Competition
The family’s lambs were March and April born with all ram lambs left entire so there was plenty to look at and pick out a favourite in the fields.
Into the market garden and we all admired the crops on show, which are delivered on a weekly basis to their 60 customers. There were some particularly impressive sized beetroots, and we heard all about the cover crops being planted to improve the soil structure and fertility. Into the poly tunnel, I don’t think any of us had ever seen so many tomatoes ranging in varieties from black cherry, which we could all agree were delicious, to beef and Roma tomatoes. There were also avocados and a variety of chilli types with Alf attempting to persuade members into trying some particularly “hot” ones. After admiring all the produce the Sykes provided a delicious homemade tomato soup for lunch so we could sample the produce; the soup had a base of Jacob lamb stock which added tremendously to the flavour and the homemade sea salt and rosemary focaccia was the ideal accompaniment.
After lunch a friendly judging competition was held with the challenge to members to place six ewe lambs and six ram lambs in the same order as they were judged by Richard Chapman and John Emberton, this created much discussion when the judges shared their thoughts on the lambs and Lisa Adams was awarded with a box of chocolates for getting the closest to the judge’s placings.
The Sykes sell all the meat from their flock alongside the other produce and Charlotte places a great emphasis on maximizing the carcass including utilizing the so called “fifth quarter”. She showed and explained to us all how she processes and tans the skins from sheep and also deer hides using a particular method which allows her to sell her rugs as machine washable.
Stock judging at the Eastern Region open day
Finally we all enjoyed tea and a delicious chocolate cake courtesy of Bridget Green before all heading home. Thanks again to Charlotte, Antony, Alf and Gilly for hosting us and John Emberton and Richard Chapman for sharing their expertise. Unfortunately, a mix up with Grassroots meant invites did not get emailed to members so please follow the region’s Facebook page to ensure you don’t miss out.
I would like to welcome a few new members to the region since I began my tenure as RCM; Rebecca Fisher & Neil Baskett – Church Flock, Richard& Lyn Spurgeon – Valley Croft Flock, Kate Scorey-Sayer – Kingsfolly Flock, Samuel Armstrong – Frettons Flock, Tamsin Archer & Jack Butcher – Holmes Lane Flock, Tanya Rivers & Trevor Street – Rivers Box Flock. A warm welcome to you all, I hope you enjoy your time with Jacob sheep.
In my own flock tupping was a success with only five of the 42 ewes synchronized coming over for a second cycle, it will be exciting to see what comes at the end of January. The boys are now on a well-earned break although some will undoubtedly be going to work in other flocks soon. Ewe lambs have been given their abortion vaccine in readiness for them coming into the flock next year. All wether and ram and ewe lambs that didn’t make the grade have been finished and sold deadweight achieving good weights and carcass grades. I wish everyone a successful tupping and fingers crossed for not too harsh a winter in preparation for lambing time next year. In the meantime if I can be of any assistance please do not hesitate to contact me – the new regional email address is or my number is 07800 817850.