Devon Sheep Farmer, Peter Baber, welcomed a group of international sheep meat producers from Beijing on a study tour to the UK last week. Peter Baber, a progressive sheep breeder well known for his ‘Genetics not Cosmetics’ philosophy played host to 20 Chinese Sheep Farmers on his farm on the edge of Dartmoor National Park.

Before a tour of the farm, Peter, a member of the AHDB Beef and Lamb Board, and Chairman of SCOPS, gave a presentation via a translator, explaining the principal behind his breeding system illustrating the significance of Performance Recording in selecting for desirable, commercially important traits.

The Chinese visitors, together with the Deputy General (Liu Qiangde) and CEO (Chunjian Lin) of the China Animal Agriculture Association, had also attended the prestigious Sheep South West event the day before and visited Peter Babers stands where he was demonstrating his Suffolk, SufTex and Texel terminal sires and the Exlana breed, a wool shedding, higher profit, easier management breed instigated by the SIG group. “After many years of supporting Sheep South West on behalf of NSA, I was delighted to attend this year with our own sheep.’, explained Mr Baber, Former Regional and National Chair of NSA. “However, for us the key is not about ‘showing’ our sheep but far more about ‘showing off’ their genetic potential.” He went on to further explain, “I’ve never supported or believed in the practice of selling out of the show ring or at Ram Sales,” he said. “It may be a traditional practise but it encourages completely the wrong emphasis, placing too big an incentive to compete purely on looks, increasing the need to feed hard feed and spending hours trimming and pampering the animal for cosmetic affect. So often these same rams melt to nothing before they’ve even started working. We’re far more interested in the value of Performance Recording than breeding an animal for its looks”, explained Peter who was responsible for coining the ‘Genetics not Cosmetics’ catchphrase over 10 years ago. We believe sheep should be ‘Bred to Grow, not fed for show’, we’re more than proud to sell our rams in their ‘working clothes’ and guarantee they’ll continue to grow and work hard when they get to their new home.” he explained as he addressed the group.

Peter Baber’s customers have been buying rams direct off the farm for over 20 years. All the breeds are selected to be ‘Fit for Purpose’ with outstanding figures for longevity, high libido, ability to serve 500 ewes plus in their lifetime, and all fed entirely off grass alone. The Chinese visitors learnt that this year, all the Suffolk and SufTex rams have a Gold rating awarded by the Signet Performance recording scheme putting them in the top 10% in the UK

Ever enthusiastic to encourage and promote the benefits of a Performance Recorded system, Peter Baber is also delighted to support the Alpha Ram Scheme coordinated by ABP. Producers who sell through the Alpha Lamb Group can receive an extra 5 to 15p per kilo for their lambs if they use high performance rams from an Alpha Ram performance recording breeder like Peter. ‘We welcome this initiative and fast-growing recognition from the industry of the value of performance recording,” commented Peter, “I’m in this business for the long term and have always believed that the future of the sheep industry lies in producing genetically superior, high health status stock, capable of thriving on grass alone.’.