By Kathryn Dick

Charmoise sheep may not be the most well-known terminal sire in the UK, but they are undoubtedly doing the business for David Eglin, Bramcote Mains, Warwickshire, who has been relying on the breed for more than 20 years now.

Mr Eglin, a first-generation farmer, began farming at Bramcote Mains in 1962, and sheep have been part of his life ever since. Originally relying on the native breeds, to include Suffolks and Welsh Half-breds, he then moved into the French breed, the Bleu Du Maine. However, it wasn't until 1998, on a trip to France to judge Bleu Du Maines, that he first encountered the Charmoise breed.

“I instantly liked the look of the breed, and decided I wanted to trial them at home, so I bought two in-lamb ewes and brought them back to Bramcote Mains to establish the Bramain flock of Charmoise,” he said.

“The two ewes lambed, with only one of them being successful, but I was so impressed by the appearance of the sheep, that I returned to France to invest in some more.”

The Bramain flock now runs to more than 300 breeding ewes, including pedigree bloodlines that are directly sourced from French stock. The UK’s sole importer of Charmoise, Mr Eglin believes the breed is one to be reckoned with when choosing a terminal sire.

“The breed is small but hardy, with a good resistance to all diseases. They have small heads and shoulders, which make for easy lambing all year round. I’ve found both the rams and ewes to be extremely fertile with huge libido, which contributes to the production of lively lambs that finish quickly, with fantastic carcases,” David said.

“The Charmoise have the highest meat to bone ratio compared to any other breed, and the flock has an average killing out percentage of 52%, which is amazing considering our sheep are entirely grass fed. We don’t need to feed any concentrates whatsoever because the sheep are so small in structure, which cuts down our costs of production.”

Mr Eglin is currently working alongside Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) by contributing his knowledge about the breed and even lending out his own rams to allow for more research to be carried out – of which he is passionate about continuing.

Although the Bramain flock is the largest of the breed in the UK, such is the growing popularity of the Charmoise that they can now be found throughout Wales.

“This breed is a smaller version of all the other terminal sires out there. The Charmoise produces a quality meat carcase of up to 21kg, which is on par with other terminal sires. Why have a large breed of sheep that costs more to keep, when smaller sheep can produce the exact same and save you money,” he said, adding that a select number of Charmoise tups from the Bramain flock will be forward for next week’s Kelso Ram Sales.