Swaledale Excellence at Goathland

Duchy tenant Mark Graham hosted an Open Day for members of the North Yorkshire Moors Swaledale Group at Hunt House Farm last month as the final stage of a 3-year research project.

Supported by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the research project looked at how farmers might adopt performance recording techniques, improve growth rates and develop consistent carcase traits through structured breeding programmes. Organised and managed by the North Yorks Moors Swaledale Breeders Group, the event included a range of presentations and live demonstrations.

Sam Charlton, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager, said: “This is an innovative project which is looking to address some of the key challenges upland farmers face with performance recording sheep flocks. The producers involved are developing solutions that other hill producers can adopt, whilst also improving the carcase traits of their Swaledale sheep so they can meet the growing demands of the market. It has been a privilege working with this enthusiastic group of farmers and we are delighted to now share the results with the wider industry.”

Congratulating Mark on the success of the Open Day, Duchy Head of Rural Christopher Sparrow said: “This was an excellent, well run and well attended event at Hunt House Farm. It is important for our upland hill farmers in Yorkshire that the Swaledale breed remains at the forefront of sheep-breeding in the UK. An honest and open forum amongst peers is often the most beneficial to all concerned and something we try to encourage. We congratulate Mark and would like to thank all members of the North York Moors Swaledale Breeders Group for sharing their knowledge and experience with others.”

The work of the North York Moors Swaledale Breeders Group forms part of AHDB’s Farm Excellence Platform, which inspires industry to improve performance and succeed through farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange.

Hunt House Farm extends to 1,312 hectares forming part of the Goathland Estate on the Duchy’s Yorkshire Survey.