Blotty the lamb wins sheep prize at Suffolk Show
- Credit: Archant
Rising numbers of sheep entered in competitions at the Suffolk Show could point to a recovery in the sector in the region.
In earlier times the vast numbers of sheep farmed in the county, and the wool produced, led to the success of wool towns like Lavenham.
Many of Suffolk and Essex's historic buildings and the impressive churches in places like Long Melford and Dedham were the result of the contributions made by the wealthy wool families.
Sheep numbers may have declined in recent years - but there now seem to be more flocks in the countryside again.
Tim Pratt, the sheep competitions steward, said: "Numbers are certainly up on last year. We have people from across Suffolk and beyond, from as far as Gatwick.
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"We are 100 entries up on last year. The last three or four years there has been a nice rise in new entries.
"This year it has really jumped. Hopefully we will get the numbers to keep on rising. There are a lot of new owners.
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"Some breeds are growing in popularity, such as Coloured Ryland."
Mr Pratt, who farms with 250 ewes at Wantisden, near Woodbridge, competes in other county shows, with rare Dorset breed sheep.
Different breeds have their own characteristics, he said.
"Each sheep has its own merits. Some are considered for their wool, others more for the carcase.
"We all care for our animals, but the animals are where we make our money."
The Suffolk breed dates back hundreds of years and there were contests at the Suffolk Show recorded in 1859.
The show classes were keenly contested.
Overall Suffolk breed champion went to Andrew Pinny from Northamptonshire, with his five-month-old ram lamb.
The lamb, which has a family nickname of Blotty, stood out among the other class winners.
Mr Pinny, accompanied by seven-year-old son Freddie, has been farming and showing sheep for 30 years, and is a previous winner at the Suffolk Show.
He said: "We have about 100 sheep these days, mainly ewes. We compete here every year and we have always done well.
"It is great to win this title. His half sister had the championship here two years ago.
"It is the inter breeds tomorrow. Let's see if we can keep on winning."