Breeding For The Future

Trefranck Farm

Trefranck Farm is a 310-acre farm nestled just off Bodmin Moor in North Cornwall. With an average rainfall of 70-80 inches and high wind exposure throughout the year at an altitude of 750-880 ft above sea level.

Currently, Trefranck Farm is home to 900 NZ Romney Ewes plus Ewe lambs, 350 Red Deer Hinds, as well as youngstock. Our Farm runs on a forage-based system which ensures the animals enjoy a natural and healthy diet, with mixed species swards. 

Breeding for the future

Resilient Romneys UK`s mission is to provide breeding stock that can be trusted to perform on any commercial system. This can only be accomplished by subjecting all breeding stock to intense pressure, ensuring that whatever emerges from the selection process is as tough as possible while still maintaining a high level of welfare.

As farming margins tighten, commercial farmers must consider reducing inputs and becoming more efficient. The goal of Resilient Romneys UK is to create an animal that can survive under high pressure with minimal inputs while still producing the desired result of a profitable, high-health status sheep farm. Not only do we know this is financially beneficial for farmers, but it also helps reduce the ever-increasing chance of developing resistance to anthelmintic drenches in the future. 

Sheep farming is always a challenge and the future steep reduction in farm support is going to force change upon sheep producers. Simple systems with low inputs are likely to be the only option. Farmers will need to source breeding stock that can cope in these outdoor lambing systems. The team at Trefranck test their breeding stock against the rigours of real farming. The cull tags are applied ruthlessly. The results have been impressive to my eyes. Stock that become lame, suffer fly strike, poor mothers, wrong attitude, poor growth rates in the face of a worm challenge all leave the flock.

What is left is tough, capable, high health status stock. The latest injection of Te Whangai genetics has been the next step, lambs that are up and sucking straight away and with the trial work we have undertaken this 2022 lambing and rearing season, we have shown how worm tolerance from New Zealand can help farmers in the UK. Resilient Romneys they certainly are.

Tim Bebbington


The best thing I can say about Matts sheep is that they are great sheep for an old man. You just let them get on with the work themselves. No feed, just grass. They will outweigh my texel mules and grade just as good. The only problem we have is keeping flesh off the ewes post weaning.

Brendan Kelly

Sheep Farmer (Ireland)

We run about 900 Romney ewes on the South Coast of Cornwall and started keeping them 18 years ago. Our ewe flock spend most of their time grazing low input permanent pasture. Prior to buying Matt and Pippa’s rams we had felt that our ewes had lost some of their hardiness and increased in size which is also undesirable in our system. In my opinion this had happened because several ram studs now are operating as part of an arable system which doesn’t put their sheep under heavy pressure.

I was attracted to buying rams from Matt and Pippa as their sheep don’t get much access to clean grazing and they have a very heavy stocking rate, which gave me the confidence that their rams would come here and throw females that will really thrive. It is very clear in the 3 crops of lambs we have had from these rams that their lambs are outperforming our other lambs with the use of a lot less wormer.

The sheep at Trefranck are also very correct on their feet standing very upright. The wool type also stands out as being a lot less attractive to blow flies, something which is extremely important to us in our mild climate.

Edward Venning

Sheep and Beef Farmer (South Coast, Cornwall)

I approached Matt and Pip 3 years ago in regard to finding high health breeding stock, wanting a breed of sheep to run alongside a small contract shepherding business and a family farm consisting of a large intensive MV accredited flock, so having minimum inputs and costs was a very important factor. Having worked with Romneys in the past I knew what they were capable of, so with that, I bought a bunch of draft ewes with a couple of shearling tups with intentions of breeding replacement females to build the flock.

Grazing mostly old pastures and sheep sick ground the resilient genetics have paid dividends, lambs have seemed to thrive and grow whilst carrying a higher-than-average worm burden also meaning I can be confident on keeping ewe lambs as replacements knowing they will hold themselves under pressure. Matt and the teams relentless breeding program into selecting and producing these resilient genetics is really showing its potential and proving that it works.

Daniel Bower

Sheep Farmer and Contract Shepherd

I bought six rams from Resilient Romneys in 2020 to use over my Kent Romneys to improve the performance of my flock, and they have been doing just that. The progeny I’ve had since introducing the new genetics have been a consistently easy-lambing, strong, fast-growing, even-finishing lambs. I’ve hit the top price for Romney lambs at market sales on more than one occasion, producing healthy wether lambs from forage alone. I’ve reduced anthelmintic use to just one worming through the whole season. The female replacements I have retained in the flock have scanned higher than expected, boosting my outdoor lambing, grass-based system. Even when my stock were pushed incredibly hard during in a significant drought of summer 2022 these sheep lost no condition and came through to autumn strong and scanned well. I have bought females with Resilient Romney genetics for the past two years and I know they will suit my system. I look forward to further longer-term benefits of introducing Resilient Romneys genetics to Kent, helping me drive a profitable and sustainable sheep farming business. I will be increasing the area of my holding under a regenerative rotational grazing approach, growing the carrying capacity of the land with a higher stocking rate and utilising available forage more effectively. I’m particularly interested in how the worm tolerance of Resilient Romneys will assist with my objectives. I’m certain these sheep are a great solution to the environmental and financial challenges facing sheep production going forward.

Marie Prebble

Sheep Farmer and Shearer (Dover, Kent)

Latest News

Industry Awareness Days 16th & 17th May

Breeding for tolerance to worms for the future of sheep farming in England… Read More

Apr 2023

Sheep Shearing World Records: A Legacy at Trefranck Farm

Looking back on incredible milestones that have taken place here at Trefranck Farm in Cornwall. .. Read More

Mar 2023

King Charles Visits Trefranck Farm

Trefranck Farm is proud to have hosted the 10th anniversary event for Innovative Farmers… Read More

Jul 2022

Farm Net Zero Event hosted at Trefranck Farm

We were thrilled to host the recent Farm Net Zero event in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund. .. Read More

Mar 2022

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