Inter-breed title is a family first

A HOME-bred Hampshire Down shearling ram has brought the Middleditch family from Belchamp St Paul, near Sudbury, their first inter-breed title.

The champion, owned by Denise and David Middledtich and shown by son Harry, was described by judge Brian Glaves as “pretty outstanding” in the line-up of breed championship winners competing for the overall title on day two of the Suffolk Show.

A delighted Mrs Middleditch said: “We have a small flock of about 20 ewes and he is the first inter-breed champion we have ever had.

“We showed him as a lamb last year and he did well, winning the trimmed ram lamb class here at the Suffolk. He has grown on really well as a shearling and has made a really nice showing ram.”

The family have been keeping Hampshire Downs since first becoming involved in keeping sheep in 1997, with Harry having added his own flock of a dozen Oxford Down ewes more recently.

“We live on a farm; the sheep graze on our fields and we grow everything that they eat on the farm,” said Mrs Middleditch.

All their commercial lambs go to local butcher Mark Humprey in Clare.

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“Lamb prices are fantastic at the moment and it is a good time to be in sheep,” she added.

Mr Glaves, who last judged at the Suffolk Show 12 years ago, runs a butcher’s and abattoir business at Brompton-by-Sawdon, near Scarborough, as well as having a small flock of Southdowns.

“The champion was very true right through, from the top line through to the legs,” he said. “He should provide good lambs for the commercial market; nice small joints which is what it is all about.

“The market requires cuts that meet the pocket at a reasonable price. He also had a little bit of cover, which should provide good eating quality. He was pretty outstanding.”

The reserve spot went to the champion Suffolk, a shearling ewe owned by M J & J A Pinny from Holcot in Northamptonshire.

Mr Glaves said the ewe had length and a good body although, across the breed, he felt Suffolk producers should be focusing on achieving a bit more fullness in the leg which provided the highest value meat.

n In the pedigree pig classes, the supreme championship went to the winner of the title for white breeds, a Welsh gilt owned by David Finch from Hadleigh, near Southend-on-Sea, Essex, with the coloured breeds champion, a British Saddleback gilt owned by P Churchyard from Breckles, near Attleborough, Norfolk, taking reserve overall.

Reserve for white breeds was a Large White sow owned by M J Kiddy & Son from Gamlingay in Bedfordshire while the reserve spot for coloured breeds went to an Oxford Sandy and Black gilt owned by Mr & Mrs Vince from Debenham.

Among the commercial pigs, the overall champion was a Large White/Landrace/Maximus cross cutter pig owned by P D & G S Mortimer from Metfield, near Halesworth, who also took reserve overall with Large White/Landrace/Maximus pork pig.