Blessington Mart was the place to be on August Bank Holiday Monday. A packed mart saw the highest price paid for a sheep in Ireland when the hammer fell on Richard Thompson’s (Donegal) ram lamb at €44,000. But this wasn’t just a breeder’s sale, an excellent clearance of 81% in the ram lamb class had the lot, breeders lambs at record prices, forty-one sheep exported and a strong commercial turnout with over 60% of sheep sold meeting the needs of the Irish commercial farmer. Although the overall sale average was €1.884 with a clearance of over 83%, the average price for commercial sheep was €660 to €670.
The record breaking top priced Lot 70 from Richard’s Ballinatone Flock is a son of the 2017 born Solwaybank Sapphire 2 out of a Mountford Mustang sired Ballynacannon ewe. Coming second in the Novice class, he was bought by Northern Ireland breeders Dennis Taylor, for his Ballynacannon flock based near Coleraine, County Antrim’s Alaistair Gault (Forkins flock), Ronan McLaughlin from Donegal (Ballyboe flock) and Portuguese breeder Joao Guilherme with Richard Thompson retaining a share. The Ballinatone pen also had the highest average at €15,625 for three sheep sold.
Darragh McMenamin’s (Mullinvale Flock, Donegal) Breed Champion, and winner of both the Novice and Open Ram Lamb classes, was next in the money list with Judge William Tait (S & W Tait, Burnview Flock) paying €34,000 for this Salopian Scuderia sired ram lamb out of a Balquhain dam for his Co Tyrone based flock. The Mullinvale pen had the second highest average after Ballinatone at €6,575 for 6 ram lambs sold.
Maghera breeder, Stephen Sufferin (Crewelands Flock, N Ireland) paid €7,500 and €6,500 for Philip Byrne’s (Kilkenny) lot 119 and Richard Wilson’s (Donegal) lot 194 respectively. Byrne’s Limepark flock bred Muirton One Direction sired lamb is out of a Limepark ewe. Richard Wilson’s February born Shannagh ram lamb is by last years Champion, Kells T-Rex, out of a Birness Murray sired Shannagh dam.
Two sheep then sold for €5,000. Brian and Gus Doyle’s (Kilmacoo Flock) lot 129 was the top price ram going to mainland Europe and was bought by French breeder, Sebastian Delval. This Kilmacoo ram lamb is the son of Errigal Grim Reaper out of a Birness dam. The other €5,000 priced sheep was lot 173 from J & M Doherty’s Malinhead Flock. P J Howard (Co Clare) bought this Limestone Red Rum sired ram lamb out of a homebred dam.
The females got the sale off to an excellent start with James O’Connell’s lot 7 Knockogan Shearling Ewe topping the female money list at €1,600 for his Female Champion purchased by F & S Brigdale for their Co Clare based Atomic Flock. The Reserve Female Champion, Kenneth Bailey’s winner of the Ewe Lamb Class got €1,400 from Michael McHugh of Co Wicklow.
Clearance: 83% (160 sold)
Clearance: 89% (16 sold)
Clearance: 95% (20 sold)
Clearance: 81% (124 sold)
PRICE IN EUROS
PDW Taylor, A Gault, R McLaughlin, R Thompson & J Guilherme
Following evaluation of our applications to DAFM we have today been notified in writing that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has approved our applications to be recognised as a breed society in Ireland and to operate a breeding programme for the Suffolk Sheep breed. This now makes us the largest Government approved pedigree sheep breed society in Ireland!
Harry Graham from Ballygawley, Sligo has always had an interest in sheep. At age 13, he has just sold his first Pedigree Suffolk Ram at a Suffolk Sheep Society accredited sale.
Born into sheep farming through his Mum and Dad, Alison & Garth Graham and his Grandad, Bert Irwin, he took a keen interest from a very early age and once he got his first pair of wellies, there was no stopping him! The family farm has always carried commercial Suffolk cross ewes, but in 2011, his Mum & Dad decided to start a Pedigree Suffolk Flock, (Kirriemuir Suffolks) affiliated to the Suffolk Sheep Society. Kirriemuir Suffolks won a number of Certificates of Merit in last year’s National Flock Competitions for the UK & Ireland. Unfortunately, these did not take place in 2020 due to Covid 19 restrictions.
Harry has been helping out on the farm since he was able to hold a bottle, feeding pet lambs and gradually progressing to helping out with more difficult chores required throughout the farming year. It wasn’t long before Harry wanted some sheep of his own, so after receiving some money for his 8th birthday party, he insisted on going to the mart to ‘Buy some Sheep’ for himself! He bought a super hogget ewe which turned out, unexpectedly to be in lamb, and his parents gifted him the best Suffolk Cross ewe lamb on the farm the same year. The following year, he had 2 lambs – a ewe and a ram. He retained the ewe lamb for himself as a breeding ewe and sold the ram lamb. Harry’s policy for the past few years has been to retain his good ewe lambs and sell everything else. With the money he saved from his sales, in 2019, he decided he would start up his own Pedigree Suffolk Flock.
The Suffolk Sheep Society actively promotes Youth Membership, and runs competitions for young breeders, young handlers and encourages young members to learn about all aspects and key elements of modern farming.
Harry named his flock ‘Westside Pedigree Suffolks’ and in 2019 he purchased 2 females. A ewe lamb from Quarrypark Suffolks in Galway and an in-lamb Gimmer from Malinhead Suffolks at the All-Star Female Sale in Blessington in November. His Gimmer lambed a terrific Ram Lamb with superb progeny from some of the top flocks in the UK & Ireland such as Solwaybank, Lakeview, Cairness and Clyda. He has taken responsibility for looking after this ram since it was born and has nurtured it through to be a superb lamb with great bone & carcass.
Harry joined the West of Ireland Registered Pedigree Suffolk Sheep Breeders Club in 2020 as a junior member. This allowed him access to the Pedigree Sales which take place each year in the West of Ireland. He brought his ram lamb to the Club Premier Sale which took place in Roscommon on Saturday 29th August. This sale is the largest sale in Connacht for Pedigree Suffolk Ram Lambs and farmers travel from all over the province to purchase top quality Pedigree Rams for the up-coming breeding season. It was a particularly successful sale this year with over 90% clearance of rams on the day and Harry was very pleased to sell his ram to a large commercial farmer.
Harry now plans to re-invest his money in another in-lamb gimmer at this years All Star sale to add to his flock. His Quarrypark Ewe Lamb and his Malinhead Gimmer have already been running with one of Kirriemuir Suffolks stock Rams, Errigal Jack the Lad, who won the Certificate of Merit in the UK & Ireland Flock Competition in 2019. He is looking forward to the lambing season for 2021 which starts in January and to a successful sales season next year.
When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union on the 23rd June 2016 I don’t think any of us fully understood the implications in general and how things would work out in practice for our industry. Fast forward nearly 5 years and the pedigree livestock sector is now grappling with the changes required to satisfy new legislation and directives, in particular with the registration of pedigree animals in EU and the movement of breeding livestock between Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and continental Europe. We are still operating in an extremely fluid environment with uncertainty and changes in direction becoming the norm. For the most of you, the impact of Brexit on how you manage your pedigree enterprise on a day to day basis is minimal and that is unlikely to change, but for others it is creating major challenges.
At a Society level, we are implementing a range of requirements to protect the interests of the Society and support all of our members as the required changes in our practice, processes and structures are unfolding.
Flock Book Developments
The major organisational challenge arising from Brexit is that the EU no longer recognises British based Pedigree Societies operating in their geographical areas. This means that European livestock can no longer be included in the British Suffolk Sheep Society flock book (ie database). We have been working closely with our database service providers (Grassroots) and DAFM to separate the flock books and to get formal recognition from the Department for the South of Ireland Branch as a Society in its own right. There are absolutely no issues with buying, selling and transferring sheep between members in Ireland and the DAFM application is to enable the issue of certificates for the movement of sheep to other legal jurisdictions including GB. The application is progressing well with a number of the key elements already approved. However, all of this means that from the beginning of March 2021 UK based flocks will be separated from European Flocks. These changes will be publicised on the Society websites and social media pages when it goes live.
Sheep Registration in Ireland
When registering sheep you will be issued with pedigree certificates as before – the only difference is that they will have the South of Ireland variation of the logo and the address is the South of Ireland Branch registered office address in Dublin. Apart from that it looks exactly the same as the current pedigree certificate. You will be able to use these certificates to transfer sheep between flocks as before.
Livestock Movement between GB & Northern Ireland/Ireland
At the time of writing this circular, there are a number of issues impacting on Society operations and events with regard to the movement of livestock between GB (England, Scotland & Wales) and Northern Ireland/EU. Because Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom with an EU land border (ie Republic of Ireland) and although it is part of the United Kingdom and within the UK trading area, it is now considered part of the EU regulation area. This means that there is no change to the processes and regulations for the movement of livestock from Northern Ireland to GB (England Scotland & Wales), nor for the movement of animals between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
However, for the movement of livestock from GB to Northern Ireland/Ireland, the same regulations apply as to the importing of livestock from any third country to the EU. At this point in time the key areas of impact are unsold animals or purchases at sales in GB being moved to Northern Ireland/Ireland, the tagging of animals being exported from GB to Northern Ireland/Ireland flocks and the status of marts used by the Society in GB in relation to the issue of Export Health Certificates for either the repatriation of sheep or the import of GB bred consignments. We are of course working through these issues with the various government departments, along with other key stakeholders, and once clarified, details will be circulated to members and published on the society websites.
The West of Ireland Registered Pedigree Suffolk Sheep Breeders Club publish a 50th Anniversary Magazine to mark tremendous milestone in their history.
Click on the cover page below to read articles from the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., ‘The Origins of the Suffolk’, a trip down memory lane and much much more.
If you would like a copy, please get in touch with any of the committee or at email@example.com and it can be arranged. You can also visit their website here or click the links below.
Standing room only at Blessington Mart on Saturday as both commercial farmers and pedigree breeders flocked to the Lamlac sponsored South of Ireland Branch of the Suffolk Sheep Society’s Premier Sale. Over half the ram lambs sold on Saturday went to commercial farmers typically buying in the €400 to €900 price range. Ram lambs overall achieved an excellent 75% clearance with an average of €931.
“this has been an excellent sale showcasing the best of Irish bred suffolks. The Society has been keeping the pedigree Suffolk flock book in Ireland since 1893 with the first registered flocks in Counties Roscommon and Derry and our members are still to the fore. The success of today’s sale demonstrates that Suffolks are not only number one for finishing and taste, they are also a major player in the commercial sheep world. We have seen today that registered suffolk lambs are not only attractive to the pedigree breeder, but also to the commercial farmer and even into mainland Europe with lambs bought at Blessington going to Belgium and France”
Suffolk Sheep Society Chief Executive Robin McIlrath
Patrick O’Connor (Co Kerry) paid the top price of €3150 for Philip Byrne’s (Co Kilkenny) Burnview One for Arthur sired ram lamb (TJW:19:00013)out of a Shannagh Knockout sired Annakisha dam. Click here to view pedigree. The dam’s maternal sister bred the 2018 female Champion and Supreme Champion of the Year.
The hammer fell to B Fenton (Co Wicklow) €2940 for Ronan McLaughlin’s (Co Donegal) Novice Class winner (UPX:19:00024). Sired by Limestone Aston Martin (purchased for 40,000gns at Stirling in 2018), this lamb is out of the Ballynacannon gimmer purchased for 9500gns in 2018.
P J Howard paid €2730 for Young Donegal breeder Darragh McMenamin’s Rookery Rodeo sired lot 113 (UJU:19:01440) out of a Cairness Cyclone sired Lakeview dam. For the same money, Northern Ireland breeder Adam Porter (Maghera) purchased Gerry Killilea’s (Co Galway) Lakeview Harbinger sired lamb out of a Newwells dam.
Ballymena breeder R H Barclay bought Richard Wilson’s (Donegal) Supreme Champion (78A:19:06468) for €2310 and Belgium breeder F Collard paid €2625 for the Open Ram Lamb Class Reserve (78A:19:06468). Three ram lambs went for €2310, Andrew Smith from Co Cavan bought Andrew Lucas’s (Co Donegal) lot 49. O & G Deane (Co Kildare) also bought a Lucas ram lamb (lot 126) at the same money for their Mountford flock. The third at €2310 was Susan O’Keeffe’s Recorded Class 1st Place ram lamb (lot 124) which went North to W and S Tait (Co Tyrone).
The three top pen averages were R Wilson (Co Donegal) with €1300 with 5 sheep through the ring, E Duffy (Co Meath) with €1062 for 8 sheep and S O’Keeffe (Co Cork) with €1058 for 8 sheep.
Top female price was K Bailey’s (Co Roscommon) reserve female champion ewe lamb (HDC:19:00075) going to James Cuffe’s pedigree Inbhear flock in Co Mayo for €1470. Colin Watchorn paid €1207 for J and E Gahan’s ewe lamb (Co Wicklow) to add to his Irish Flock of the Year Beechbrook flock. Colin’s flock viewing day is Saturday (10th August) at 4:40pm at his farm in Newcastle, Co Wicklow.
The Finnvale Flock was established in 1990 by my father and I’ve had a huge interest from a young age! Our flock consists of 65 pedigree ewes which are all served naturally by stock rams. Over the last number of years, we have gone down the route of embryo transfer. This has enabled us to gain the most out of our top ewes and has rewarded us by producing a higher standard of ram lambs as well as female lines. Service sires are carefully selected for skins, carcass, size and power. Purchase of top quality females through the years has also worked in our favour.
What have been your greatest achievements to date?
2016 and 2017 was the start of our recent run of success when we got 1st prize group of 3 at the Irish Premier Sale. We were delighted to carry that success into 2018 by getting the Supreme Champion at the 2018 Irish Premier Sale in Roscrea, which later went on to sell for €2000 to the judge. This year we had numerous prize winners at the Irish Premier Sale in Blessington, with two lambs selling to €2000 each and we had the overall champion at the Donegal Suffolk Breeders’ Premier Sale 2019.
What plans do you have for the future of your flock?
Our plans to progress in the future would be to possibly keep a smaller number of flock ewes and concentrate more on breeding by means of ET and the use of the top rams available to us.
What ram has been the most influential on your flock to date?
Oakbridge Maximus purchased at the NI Premier Sale 2016. He sired the Supreme Champion at Roscrea in 2018 and bred lambs selling for €2000 twice in Blessington this year. He has also bred a strong line of females within the flock.
What advice would you give a new breeder starting out?
Ahh my advice would be careful selection of females to start your flock, go to local shows and sales get talking to other breeders to help learn about the breed and what to look for in a Suffolk.
The West of Ireland Registered Pedigree Suffolk Sheep Breeder’s Club continued to grow from strength to strength in 2019, with an increased membership and some great successes throughout the season.
NSBA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
The Club was well represented at the NSBA National Championships in Kilkenny where Gerry Killilea, Carragh Flock built on his success from 2018 achieving 3rd place in the Trimmed ewe Lamb class.
The Club enjoyed great success in the National Flock Competition with Garth Graham, Kirriemuir Flock receiving Certificates of Merit in The W E Lloyd Cup for his flock of 31 – 60 Ewes. He also received Certificates of Merit in Ewe Lamb Class, Flock of over 30 Ewes, and Stock Ram with Errigal Jack the Lad, in the South of Ireland Flock Competition. Congratulations also to Gerry Killilea, Carragh Flock who took Reserve in the Ewe Lamb Class and who also received a Certificate of Merit in the Flock of over 30 Ewes.
SHOWS & SALES
The Sales season kicked off for the club in Blessington at the SOI Premier Show & Sale where the Club was well represented by many of its members .Congratulations to Kenneth Bailey, Lismurtagh Flock who won the Ewe Lamb Class and then went on to achieve Reserve Champion Female with his Ewe Lamb
The Big Boy Ram Sale in Carrick-on-Shannon was a great success, with a strong representation of the Suffolk Breed by Club members where the Suffolk breed achieved the second highest price on the night.
This was followed by the clubs own Premier Sale in Roscommon with a large entry of superbly turned out sheep, ably judged by Seamas Browne, Errigal Flock. He was very impressed with the standard of sheep produced by the Club with Supreme Champion going to Canon Joe Delaney, Roscree Flock and Reserve Champion going to Kevin and Mattie Kelly, Summerhill Flock. Female Champion went to Garth Graham, Kirriemuir Flock with his Ewe Lamb.
Our Second sale took place in Athenry with another large entry and very successful sale. The Supreme Champion went to Michael & Marie Jennings, Ballygarris Flock and Reserve to James Cuffe, Inbhear Flock.
At our 3rd Club Show & Sale in Roscommon, Supreme Champion went to Michael & Marie Jannings, Ballygarris Flock with their Open Ram Lamb Winner. Reserve went to James Cuffe, Inbhear with his winner in the Novice Class.
The Club ended its Year with Club Flocks DeBurca, Carragh and Kirriemuir presenting superbly well turned out females at the All Star Female Sale in Blessington in November .
PREMIER SHOW & SALE, ROSCOMMON MART – 31st August 2019
CHAMPION : Canon Joe Delaney
RESERVE : Mattie & Kevin Kelly
EWE LAMB: 1. G. Graham, 2. G Killilea, 3. L. Higgins & D. Airlie
SHEARLING RAM: 1. P.Hillary
NOVICE RAM: 1. Canon J. Delaney, 2. G. Graham, 3. K. Bailey
RECORDED RAM: 1. G.Killilea, 2. T. Burke, 3. M&M Jennings
OPEN RAM: 1. Canon J. Delaney, 2. M&K Kelly, 3. M&M Jennings
ATHENRY SHOW & SALE (Evening) – 20th Sept 2019
CHAMPION : Michael & Marie Jennings
RESERVE: James Cuffe
EWE LAMB: 1. G. Killilea, 2. G. Graham, 3. L. Higgins & D. Airlie, 4. P. Colleran
SHEARLING RAM: 1. G. Graham, 2. G. Graham
NOVICE RAM: 1. J. Cuffe, 2. M. McDonagh, 3. C. Hughes, 4. G. Graham
OPEN RAM: 1. M&M Jennings, 2. J. Cuffe, 3. M. McDonagh, 4. C. Hughes
ROSCOMMON 2ND SHOW & SALE – 28TH SEPT 2019
CHAMPION: Michael & Marie Jennings
Reserve : James Cuffe
SHEARLING RAM : 1. E. Campbell, 2. G. Graham, 3. T. Burke
NOVICE RAM: 1. J. Cuffe, 2. G. Graham, 3. E&T McKeever
OPEN RAM: 1. M&M Jennings, 2. J. Cuffe, 3. G. Graham
As a Club, we are delighted with what has turned out to be one of our most successful years ever. We took part in the very successful Big Boys Ram sale for the first time ever. Clearance rates at our sales were some of the highest recorded within the club. Many of our members enjoyed successes at the many Agricultural Shows throughout the summer season, showcasing the Suffolk breed to an incredibly high standard. Many of our members were present on the Suffolk stand at the National Ploughing Championships, which played host to the largest ever recorded attendance.
The standard of breeding lines within the club continue to improve and the quality of stock being produced is a testament to the investment our breeders are putting into their bloodlines.
We would like to extend a huge Thankyou to anyone who supported the Club this year, including the Suffolk Sheep Society, Suffolk Council, all our buyers, sponsors and marts and last but not least, our Club members themselves whose hard work and dedication continues to improve the breed standard within the club and showcase the Suffolk Breed to its full potential.