Having originally farmed the Chaileybrook flock of pedigree Southdowns in Kent, Jonathan Long and his family now reside in Herefordshire where the flock is run alongside the Littlebrook flock of Blue Texels, owned by the “junior shepherd”, Sophie Long.
These pedigree flocks also run alongside commercial ewes, largely a mix of Blue Texel cross, Lleyn and Romney ewes with a move towards more Romney ewes put to Southdown, Blue Texel and Beltex tups. All sheep on the farm are Maedi Visna accredited.
The Southdown flock currently numbers 30 breeding ewes and dates back as far back as 1954 with bloodlines from Jonathan’s grandfather’s Chailey flock. It has firmly cemented itself as one of the breed’s most successful flocks, regularly featuring in the championship line ups at both regional and national shows, as well as producing no fewer than five breed record holders in the sale ring, with many breeders sourcing foundation females and stock tups from the Chaileybrook flock.
More commonly seen in the cattle world, the breeding philosophy of families is central to the Chaileybrook flock with lines such as the U8 family producing incredibly correct, showy females and countless championship winners, as well as the U6 line which is known for producing high performance sheep resulting in sale toppers and breed society sale champions and the W3 line, which has regularly produced balanced sheep with immense breed character and natural fleshing ability, often proving the mainstay of choice for new breeders wishing to purchase Chaileybrook stock.
Showing is undertaken on a small, yet selective scale, with sheep now exhibited at Royal Bath and West, Royal Three Counties, Tenbury and at the Southdown National Show. With regards sales, both tups and females are often offered from home, as well as at the Society’s premier sale at Worcester in August. Additionally, a female production sale takes place every three years at Newark in conjunction with the Brant flock.
The Littlebrook flock of Blue Texels was established in 2010, the year before Sophie was born, with original purchases from the Bishops dispersal sale and additions from the Miserden, Shearstone and Beili flocks. Tups have been purchased from Bishops, Shearstone, Beili, Nantyderri and Jonsland and the flock now numbers 15 breeding ewes. Commercial tups are offered for sale both privately and at the NSA Builth Wells sales. Showing is also undertaken regionally alongside the Southdowns.
From a commercial point of view, lambing takes place in March and April with lambs finished off grass and sold locally at Ross Market, as well as further afield at Newark.