Showing has always played an important role in promoting Procters' Farm's Texels and Beltex and this year is no different with the flock having already made its presence at the Highland and the Great Yorkshire, and farm manager, Jeff Aiken, now gearing up for the Royal Welsh.

Mr Aiken is farm manager at the 286-acre Tatham Hall Farm, part of Procters Farm, based at Wennington, Lancaster, which is owned by Tony Moores and is also home to the noted Procters herd of Limousin cattle.

Each year Mr Aiken, along with his wife Jennifer and children Katie and Robbie head for the shows with about eight of their best Texels and Beltex in tow.

“We tend to take about 7-8 of each breed and a mix of ages- two ewes, two gimmers, two lambs and one or two tups,” says Mr Aiken.

For the last few years the family have been rewarded for their efforts, having won rosettes at the Royal Highland, Great Yorkshire and Royal Welsh.

At the Royal Welsh, they reigned supreme winning overall Texel champion in 2014 with an aged ewe, which was a daughter of the 50,000gns Haddo Ringleader bred from an Annan dam by Ettrick McCoist.

In 2015, they again scooped the title as well as the inter-breed championship, with a one-crop ewe, that was a daughter of the privately purchased Scholars Twenty Twelve. She is out of a dam by the 50,000gns Haddo Ringleader. Notably, they won the breed title again last year with the same ewe that scooped the reserve title at the Highland and the breed honours at Ingliston in 2015.

Meanwhile, their big win at the Yorkshire, when they scooped the breed title and continental championship in 2012 was with a gimmer daughter of the 50,000gns tup Haddo Ringleader, out of a dam by Forkins Nijinsky.

“It is a great feeling when you win, but for us it’s not just about that. Showing is a great shop window.”

Mrs Aiken says one year at the Royal Welsh Show a visitor noted down the tag number of one of the sheep they were showing. “He then looked out for it in the sales catalogues and drove all the way from Wales to Lanark where we were selling it. It then went on to sell for 4200gns she says.

The preparation that goes into getting stock ready for shows starts months before the show season, explains Mr Aiken.

“We start selecting adult sheep just after Christmas. We are looking for good legs and feet and we want a level and wide top line with a good cover over the rump and a firm gigot,” he says.

“We then look at the finer points. We want a black nose and black around the eyes and the head must be completely covered in white hair and have the breed character in the head. We also want a sheep with a tight skin,” he adds.

The batch of sheep selected are fed on a 16% protein ration and get 1lb (0.45kg) a day to begin with. Those not making the selection are wintered off the farm on grass.

“The ration starts to put that extra condition on for showing,” adds Mr Aiken.

Lambs are then selected late May/early June using the same selection criteria as the adult sheep. “They are not selected until later on as they change so much,” explains Mr Aiken.

All sheep are sheared at the beginning of May. Texel breed society rules mean that show sheep are not allowed to be dressed for shows.

Two weeks before the show the sheep and lambs receive a full body wash. They are also given a dose of Agri-Lloyd’s Liquithrive sheep/lamb, which is a drench containing chelated trace minerals.

“We find the Liquithrive gives them their bloom,” he says.

“They also receive the product throughout the year at critical times such tupping, flushing ewes, pre-lambing and post lambing as well as embryo recipients, as it keeps their mineral levels topped up at these critical times, when mineral balance is key.”

The show team then receive a full spray tan, explains Mrs Aiken. “It literally is like giving them a spray tan. We use a bloom product and aim for a biscuit colour. We spray it all over, but keep it off the head and legs,” she says.

Different sheep and lambs are exhibited at different shows. “We like to mix it up a bit and don’t always show the same animals at the same shows,” says Mr Aiken.

However, the aim isn’t to produce nice showy sheep, as the Aikens want to produce sheep for the commercial market.

“First and foremost, our main aim is to meet the commercial man’s requirement. If it can produce a lamb that is that extra bit special for the pedigree market and for showing, then that’s a bonus,” says Mr Aiken.

Two of the main stock rams being used at on this 150 Texel ewe flock which also flushes 10-12 females a year at present include the 70,000gns Teiglum Young Gun, of which a half share was bought last August at Lanark along with the 35,000gns Strathbogie Ya Belter, which is also owned in a half share partnership.

EBVs play a critical part in continually trying to improve breed quality, adds Mr Aiken. “We do look at EBVs and Signet record, with 8-week and 20-week back scans taken. However, we also select on eye.

“The aim is to produce easier lambing and faster finishing Texels, which can produce prime lambs that can be finished off grass,” says Mr Aiken.

Farm facts Tatham Hall Farm

• 286 cares

• 150 Texels+followers; 20 Beltex; 250 recipients for embryo work

• Flush 10-12 females each year

• Beltex lamb end of January and Texel 18th February