Last year the Cowdray Estate decided to close down two dairy operations and put two farms up for rent. Andrew Hodgkins managed to obtain the lease on both Cocking Hill Farm and Linch Farm. His parents run Wairere U.K. (New Zealand Romneys) sheep farm at Locks Farm, Washington, near Pulborough in West Sussex. So Andrew and his fiancée, Laura, have brought with them a few thousand pure Romney sheep and are running them in strict rotation along the South Downs Way above Cocking, Bepton and Linch as well as on the north side of Bepton Down and Linch.
These Romney sheep are descended from stock imported from New Zealand. They live outside year round and lamb in the open in March/April. The ewes prove to be excellent mothers and produce fast growing lambs. They have a sturdy constitution and are long-lived. The aim is to produce quality Signet SRS performance rams and thus offer for sale shearling and lamb rams. Top quality shearling and lamb ewes are also produced.
In the last week Bepton Down Conservation Group has been delighted to note the presence of at least two hundred Romney ewes on the access area of Bepton Down SSSI. After having eaten up the more palatable areas they are now beginning to munch their way through the tussocks of rougher vegetation. They should reduce the sward to an acceptable level for the flora and fauna of chalk downland to flourish come the spring. Once they have completed their duties on this area of the Bepton Down no doubt they will make their way into the top half of the SSSI in the top field which is not part of the access land area.
They are beautiful ewes, in tip top condition, and I have yet to notice lameness or any other ailment in them. The Bepton Down Conservation Group are delighted to have them and hope they will continue to perform their duties on Bepton Down in the years ahead.
Andrew and Laura are more than welcome in our area and we hope they will be very happy here. We wish them luck with their gorgeous sheep which enhance the area which, after all, was once famed for the sheep kept and produced here.