China Court Berrichons and Silkwood Zwartbles
In addition to the coal and the Christmas trees, Ian and his wife Chloe run two pedigree MV accredited sheep flocks. Ian owns the Berrichons and Chloe the Zwartbles. Whilst both flocks are predominantly a hobby, we aim for them to be as cost neutral as possible - we do this by producing our own hay and selling the surplus, and through meat sales of lambs not suitable for breed society registration.
We attended our first show in 2017 (Chepstow Show with two Zwartbles ewe lambs) and thoroughly enjoyed it. We then took four Berrichons to Brecon Show in 2018 and another three Berrichons to Monmouth and Brecon shows in 2019. In the future we hope to sell surplus quality stock at the breed society sales.
Zwartbles are a large, striking Dutch sheep whose name actually means "Black with Blaze". Originally bred for milk production, they have a naturally docile temperament and so are ideal for smallholders, those new to sheep, and to cross graze with horses.
Their meat is lean and tender and their wool thick with a good natural crimp. The ideal Zwartbles will be a strong, well bodied sheep that is good on its feet and with excellent teeth. It must have a full blaze, two to four white socks (if only two, they must both be on the hind legs) and a white tip to the tail. They must not have any white in their fleece.
They are what is known as a maternal sheep, being easy lambers and good mothers. Chloe's sheep are selected on temperament as well as conformation, growth rates and markings and all are friendly with people, including children.
Berrichons are a large, white-faced and well bodied French sheep. They are flightier than the Zwartbles and are very multi-purpose, producing good meat lambs but equally retaining many maternal traits including good milking ability and excellent mothering skills.
What sets the Berrichons apart from other terminal (meat producing) sheep is their ability to lamb at any time of the year meaning that your lambing can be planned around other jobs or to hit the peak of the lamb prices at Easter or Christmas.
We lamb our sheep at the end of January/start of February and find the lambs to be very quick to their feet and to suckle, regardless of the temperature outside.