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Thompson wins Supreme Fleece Championship at Devon County Show

June 8, 2009 (United Kingdom)

Over 20 years of dedication to improving the wool quality of one of Britain’s rarest sheep breeds brought a top accolade to Cornwall sheep breeder Malcolm Thompson when he won the supreme fleece championship at the Devon County Show with a fleece from one of his Greyface Dartmoor sheep.

This was the first time a fleece from this native west country breed, which was once close to extinction, has won such a coveted title. But the win was made even sweeter for Mr Thompson who has spent two decades improving the wool of the Greyface Dartmoor as well as ensuring the breed’s survival.

“This is a wonderful breed that came very close to being lost forever. But enthusiasts throughout the UK have now built numbers up to around 2500 ewes which is a vast improvement from the dangerously low figure we faced 30 years ago,” said Mr Thompson who runs a flock of 25 ewes in the Tamar Valley near Gunnislake.

But not only was he concerned about saving the breed. Some years ago he alerted the Dartmoor Sheep Breeders Association to the need to maintain the quality of the breed’s fleece.

“The fleece has always been a very important feature of the breed providing it with good protection against the elements and ensuring we retain the hardiness of the Greyface Dartmoor,” said Mr Thompson.

Many years of selecting for fleece quality in the animals he has bred was recognised by the fleece competition judges decision at this year’s Devon County Show where they found the Greyface Dartmoor fleece unbeatable.

Gareth Jones, the British Wool Marketing Board’s Producer Relations Manager, said the win was a great tribute to Mr Thompson’s commitment to the breed.

“Fleece quality has a direct bearing on a sheep’s thriftiness and hardiness. Mr Thompson’s efforts have not only been recognised by the judges at the Devon County Show but will go on to ensure important traits are maintained as the breed’s revival continues,” said Mr Jones.

British Wool Marketing Board
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