The Meatlinc Sheep breed was created by Henry Fell in the 1960’s by crossing 5 breeds of sheep. He sourced top Suffolk and Dorset rams from the UK and imported Charollais, Ille De France and Berrichon genetics from France. The aim of the program was to produce rams that:
These aims still form the basis of the breeding program today and in fact have become much more accepted in recent years as key to having profitable and sustainable sheep flocks.
The five breed cross was developed over 10 years before finally settling on what he wanted. For the last 50 years the Meatlinc breeders have continued to see great gains in genetic progress.
“I buy Meatlinc rams because of the 270 lambs I sell each week, over 95% are in spec, exactly what my buyer wants.”
James Dobie, Berwickshire
The Meatlinc breed has spread across the country with 5 breeders in the UK and Northern Ireland, as well as one in France and one in Austria. All members of the Meatlinc Breeders Group work together for the benefit of the breed and its customers.
The Meatlinc was one of the first to adopt the Meat and Livestock Commission breed evaluation program adopting the BLUP analysis (Best Linear Unbiased Prediction) in order to form Estimated Breeding Values (EBV’s).
Meatlinc were one of the first breeds to carryout Ultrasound scanning for back fat and eye muscle depth. This tool has been key in selecting leaner animals as well as those with higher muscling in the loin. As Meatlinc lambs are not pushed or over fed, measurements taken at 18-21 weeks are when the lambs are typically 40-50kg in weight. This has meant we have measured and selected animals that have the greatest depth of muscle and adequate fat cover at weights similar to slaughter targets. Other breeds that scan lambs at 60kg plus, but we feel this is irrelevant as most commercial lambs are killed way before this.
This selection criteria has been back up by the national progeny trial, where 7 Meatlinc rams are in the top 15 for eye muscle depth.