Flying Start for Next Generation of NSA Wales & Border Ram Sales ‘Family’

12th September 2023

Married life is off to a flying start for James and Ellie Amphlett, of Woodhouse Farm, Shobdon, Leominster. Their small flock of pedigree Topwood Texels is making headlines at sheep sales, winning championships and commanding record prices.

Ellie, whose family has a long association with the NSA Wales & Border Ram Sales, and James had champion at the Three Counties Show this year with their Texel ewe. And they achieved a family record with 16,000 guineas at the English National Sale in Worcester, after topping the the Scottish National Female Sale at Lanark with a ewe selling for 9,000 guineas and another for 3,000 guineas.

The couple are thrilled with the success of a flock that began with just one ewe in 2019. It has transformed their ‘bit of a hobby’ into serious business and Ellie admits they’ve now ‘got the bug’.  Ellie says: “We don’t want to have loads. We’d like to continue and expand them a little bit. We’ll retain a couple of our own gimmers this year, but we just enjoy them really.”   James and Ellie have six Topwood ewes and breed from embryos at the family’s Woodhouse Farm. They AI the ewes, flush them and then put them into their own MV Mule ewes.

They are both familiar faces in the livestock world. James is a livestock auctioneer with McCartneys, with responsibility for the pedigree sales at Worcester. He comes from a successful sheep breeding family, with pedigree Charollais sheep as well as flocks of Texel x ewes and Cheviot ewes.  Ellie and her family are renowned pedigree sheep and cob breeders. She and her sister Hannah, who also works at McCartneys, are involved with John and Philippa Owens’s Woodhouse Kerry Hill and ram breeding flocks. They also have the Cascob Stud of Welsh Cobs.

John and Philippa are each celebrated exhibitors and judges and in 2014 Philippa judged the Welsh Cob classes at the Royal Welsh Show, including the George Prince of Wales Cup. Most recently, John judged four interbreed championships at the Great Yorkshire Show this year. Philippa judged the Native Breed Cattle pairs championship at the Royal Welsh Show this year.  The family has had a run of Kerry Hill championships at the Royal Welsh Show and last year they topped the society sale at Ludlow with a record 10,500 guineas. There is also a strong connection with the NSA Wales & Border Ram Sales.

John Owens has been selling at the Builth event every year since the first sale 45 years ago, having begun with his father, Ivor Owens. John is a previous chairman of the committee and remains a committee member. James Amphlett is also a member of the committee.  The family lamb 1,000 ewes each year, comprising Suffolks, Kerry Hills, Mules and Beltex and Texel ewes. The Beltex and Texel are used to produce x bred tups. They also have around 20 commercial suckler cows and ten Welsh Cob mares.