Weydale Farm, as its name suggests nestles between two rolling dales, with hillsides too steep to cultivate. They are perfect grass growing fields, therefore, and include many calcareous grassland species. Sheep are crucial in maintaining a low sward height, which in turn allows these tender plants to thrive and the dales are now recognised as a site of conservation interest.
Sheep have always been an important enterprise, on our farm, but the breeds have changed over the years, from Clun Forest, to Texels and now Berrichon .
The latter were introduced in 1988, when Elaine was looking for a breed of sheep that could lamb all year round, have minimal lambing assistance, good conformation and did not require a high protein diet in order to finish.
After visiting the Berry Region in France, she returned with five Berrichon ewes and a ram, and the Weydale flock was established. Notable stud rams have included the legendary Muscleman, and Sancerre, both rams imported from Jacques Gitton. Semen has been retained from both of these rams and is available for sale through D & C Fawcett Ltd. Now standing at 60 ewes, some of which are now crossed with a Texel ram, we hope to produce good size lean spring lamb all year round as well as replacement females and breeding rams.
In the autumn of 2012, Elaine made a return visit to the Berry region in France to purchase a new ram from M. Laine, the French Society's president, and three females from the Badier family to reinvigorate the pedigree enterprise at Weydale.
After many years showing Berrichons all over the country, Elaine has more recently been invited to judge at various county shows.
In 2011, she judged the Berrichon du Cher section at the Great Yorkshire Show, now, arguably, the most prestigious show in the country, where the Keith family present the Weydale trophy to the Champion Berrichon.