The ‘Kersey Flock’ of Suffolk Sheep was established by Robert Partridge (Bobby), of Sampsons Hall, Kersey in 1927.
In 1947 John Partridge set up the ‘Harts Flock’ next door at West Sampsons Hall. Chris took over the running of the flock when John died in 1982. The two flocks were run on neighbouring farms until 1999 when the chance came to merge them. By this time the ‘Kersey Flock’ was at a very low ebb consisting of just 6 ewes and the ‘Harts Flock’ was being expanded.
Interestingly the ‘Kersey Flock’ was not the first flock of Suffolk Sheep in the Parish, the founder of our farming business (R Partridge and Son Ltd) Great Great Grandfather, Robert Partridge, had a flock of about 200 Suffolks between 1900 and 1909.
The ‘Kersey Flock’ is believed to be the fourth oldest in the country. At one time father had in excess of 250 breeding ewes, however with the decline of sheep in general in the Eastern counties our current flock of just over 100 ewes is the largest flock of pedigree Suffolk sheep in the region.
Over the years we have used various progressive technologies in an attempt to improve the genetics of the breed in order to supply our customers with top quality stock. These include MLC recording, ultrasound scanning, weight recording and artificial insemination. A recent development has been CT (computerised tomography) scanning, which gives accurate data on the percentage of muscle, bone and fat in a live sheep. This can guide us in the selection of the best genetics to use for the future. Work is also being done to improve the viability and vigour of lambs at birth.
It is traditional for Suffolk flocks to lamb in January so that finished lambs can be ready for the Easter trade and also so that ram lambs are old enough to be used for breeding in their first year. Since 2004 however we have moved to March lambing and we keep our ram lambs round until the following year and sell them as shearlings when they are bigger, more mature and more able to serve large numbers of commercial ewes. They have also done most of their growing by this stage and keep their condition better when going to work. This decision, like most, has been driven by what our customers want.
The flock has always been commercially based and we still aim to breed and sell rams, which are used for the production of lambs for meat. Recently around 40 shearling rams have been sold for breeding each year.