A NORTHERN smallholder has won national recognition for her flock of Hampshire Down sheep.

Hazel Hindmarch, whose Fellrose flock is based at Wolsingham, was awarded the Moybrick Cup for the national Champion Flock at the Hampshire Downs Sheep Breeders’ Association’s annual awards.

Judge Mike Adams said: “Hazel Hindmarch, this year’s flock competition winner, showed me a consistent level of quality across all my judgement categories, in particular good length and strong hind quarters, which is the prime requirement of the breed.

“I was also satisfied with the finer breed points like colour and wool. Clearly she has worked very hard to achieve this high standard and I feel she is well qualified to receive this award.”

Hazel, who had already won the association’s 2018 award for the best medium-sized flock, said she was ‘very surprised’ by her success.

She presently has about 35 pedigree Hampshire Downs and has been keeping them for about ten years. She previously had Whiteface Woodlands and Mules, but wanted to move away from a Texel tup.

She decided on the Hampshire Down, which is a terminal sire, considering it to be a sheep that would do well on grass, not need a lot of management and be long-lived.

Hazel bought a starter flock of five ewes and a tup, all pedigree, from Matlock in Derbyshire for £550. “It turned out to be a very good deal,” she said, adding she bred her flock from there, just buying the odd ewe and tup and keeping the best back. Out of the 18 breeding ewes she now has, there are only three she has not bred herself.

She said having a relatively small flock meant there was not enough turnover with the males, but she had ‘managed’. She had enjoyed a ‘tremendous’ show season, winning at 12 shows, including Stokesley, Ripley, Wolsingham, Huby and Sutton, Westmorland County, Eggleston, and reserve at Masham Sheep Fair.

Four different sheep won the championships - a shearling tup, a ram lamb, a ewe lamb and an aged ewe, with the males doing most of the winning.

“I would say this has been the best season we have had,” said Hazel, adding she did it as a hobby, and it was also a pleasure to go showing and be able to sell some pedigree stock for other people to show or for commercial people.

She had no inkling she had won when she went to Newquay for the association awards.

“It is such an achievement as well because ten years isn’t very long having started with not an expensive flock.

“We have put an awful lot of work into it in those ten years.”

She thought her success was down to only keeping the best of the year, and making sure when you bought a new tup in that he was what you wanted for your sheep and you used him wisely on your sheep.

Among the first lambs she got from the Hampshire Downs she bought was a tup called Fellrose Joseph, and his line had carried on through the bulk of the sheep somewhere.

“I think he’s the link that makes them right,” she said . “As a lamb he had the right breed attributes.”