LOCKDOWN has not prevented the Fort farming family in South Craven from lambing 1,150 ewes in their well-known pedigree Lleyn sheep flock this season.

Brother and sister, Terry and Beverley, have been breeding Lleyns at Brighton House Farm, Steeton, since 2001, through their own Fort flock (1,656), alongside their parents, Graham and Amanda’s Brightonhouse flock (1,299).

Beverley reckons this will be the best crop of shearlings and lambs they have ever had for sale later this year.

Lleyn sheep originate from north-west Wales and, according to the Lleyn Sheep Society, the aim of breeders is to maintain the Lleyn as a medium-sized ewe with highly-respected maternal traits that suit today’s commercial sheep producer.

The Forts remain passionate about the breed, none more so than 36-year-old Beverley, who, looking back on this year’s lambing, said: “We have had to lamb all our ewes without the extra help we normally get from veterinary students but, this year, even though they were allowed to come as key workers, we opted to carry on without them in order to try to protect everyone from potential Covid-19 virus risks.

“Luckily, the nice sunshine in April made lambing time a breeze for both the ewes and lambs. Since lambing, we have had all the Lleyns sheared and I feel they honestly look the best crop of shearlings and lambs to sell that we have ever had.

"They are well-muscled, with great size, skin, presence and, most importantly, the two lambs each ewe carries grow extraordinarily quickly.”

Beverley said she felt extremely proud of the Lleyns the Forts will have for sale later this year – more than 700 head in total, comprising 38 shearling rams, 500 shearling females and 200-plus gimmer lambs.

Once again, some will likely be sold at their local auction mart in Skipton, primarily at the annual registered fixture staged on behalf of the Lleyn Sheep Society, currently scheduled for Thursday, October 1. At last year’s highlight, the Forts went to 2,000gns to secure the top price performer, a well-bred shearling ram seen as a valuable addition to their breeding flock.

They use top Lleyn champion bloodlines and have clinched multiple honours with their own sheep – both rams and females - including supreme championships at society shows at Skipton. They are also five times winners of the North & East Club flock competition.

The Forts are also stalwarts of the Lleyn Sheep Society, which is this year celebrating its milestone 50th anniversary. Graham Fort continues to serve as North & East England Lleyn Sheep Breeders Club chairman.

Beverley said: “While the dry weather over the last few months has been great for the sheep, it has made for a lack of grass and forage, so the rain recently has been very welcome. Fortunately, we have our own tackle and have managed to get some silage/hay made already.”

Meanwhile, she continues to tend her sheep and lambs in preparation for the autumn sales with the help of her trusty border collie, Jock, acquired at Skipton Auction Mart’s working sheep dog sale in February this year. “He’s fairly new, but doing very nicely for me,” she said. Beverley also breeds her own working sheep dogs under the Beverton prefix.

To find out more, visit www.lleynsheep-forts.com or the official society website at www.lleynsheep.com where promotions officer Heather Stoney-Grayshon has penned a fascinating history of the breed over the past 50 years.

Details and dates for both breed society and pedigree sheep fixtures at Skipton Auction Mart this autumn – they remain subject to Covid-19 guidelines – can be found at www.ccmauctions.com.