The Suffolk Sheep Society South of Ireland held their Premier Show & Sale on Monday July 25th at Blessington Mart.
A large selection of top quality sheep were placed before the judge, Mr John Gibb, of the renowned Cairnton Flock in Scotland while commercial breeder, Mr.Jim Corrigan, was on hand to judge the Gigot Class.
Taking Supreme Champion of the Show was the Finnvale Flock, of Andrew & Jonathan Lucas, Co.Donegal. This stylish son of Salopian Pure Gold (brother to the record breaking 200K gns Solid Gold) and a Shannagh Ewe, had been previously tapped out by John Gibb as winner of the Open Class before lining up in the Championship. While the champion was unsold, Lucas went on to sell his first prize Pen of Three ram lambs for €2800, €2600 and €2600 respectively. Taking Reserve Champion in the pre-sale show was a Rookery Rebel sired ram lamb from Darragh McMenamin’s Mullinvale Flock. Darragh sold another Rookery Rebel sired ram lamb for €2500 to Italy.
Topping the sale was local breeder, Colin Watchorn’s Beechbrook Flock, when his Limestone Gold Rush sired ram lamb was snapped up by Alistair Barkley for €5200. This ram will join his Blackbrae Flock in Northern Ireland. He had been placed second in the Novice Class behind the Donegal based Doherty Bros who had claimed the red rosette with their Malinhead Rossi sired lamb.
Other top prices on the day included Richard Wilson’s Shannagh lamb who was second in the Ram Sired by a South of Ireland Bred Ram class. Sired by Kells T-Rex (the 2020 Premier Champion) this ram was purchased by Richard Thompson at €3700 while another ET brother sold to Mark Priestley for €2700. First in this class was a Ballinatone BT Buddy sired ram from Patrick O Keeffe’s Blackwater Flock who was knocked down at €2000 to the Walker Family. In the Errigal pen, a January born The Views Unknown Legend sired lamb topped the prices at €2000. Westport based Michael Hastings flock, Western Suffolks, had his Strathbogie Joel sired lamb knocked down in the ring at €2100 after he had placed 4th in the Novice Class. In the Shearling Class John Hanly’s Oakbridge Oscar sired ram took the top spot going on to sell for €900
In the female classes it was Andrew Smith’s stylish Cloontagh Chieftan sired ewe which took the red rosette in the Shearling Class. She went on to sell in the ring for €1200. Top honours in the Ewe Lamb Class went to Colin Watchorn’s Beechbrook Flock. This breedy Limestone Gold Rush Ewe Lamb went on to take Female Champion of the show with Andrew Smith’s Shearling claiming the reserve spot.
Topping the Shearling prices at €1400, was the Co Leitrim based Loughrynn Flock of Coote and Trevor Geelan with their January born Crewelands Drifter sired gimmer who was placed third in her class. Andrew Smith’s second prize ewe lamb by Kells Wingman, topped the females selling for €2000 to Northern Ireland breeder Dennis Taylor.
A number of sheep were exported to Northern Ireland and Europe from the sale but the export trade was down significantly on the record breaking 2021 figures and this was put down to a number of factors, with increased transportation costs topping the list playing a major part in the decreased trade.
Commercial trade accounted for 50% of all ram sales and these animals recorded an average of €706, marginally down on last years prices. Although the amount of rams sold into the commercial sector was down slightly on 2021, which was due in part to the early date of the sale, a number of buyers were filling their orders early to avail of the large selection on offer. The overall average for the sale was €1030.
The Society feel that Zootechnical Certification and approval of their Pedigree Breeding Program is playing a large part in its growing membership. Many new breeders took part in this year’s sale and it is encouraging to see so many younger breeders getting involved in pedigree breeding.
The remaining Society Sales will be held in Cahir on Friday 2nd September, Carnew on Wednesday 7th September, Ballyjamesduff on Friday 16th September and Ballina on Tuesday October 4th.
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
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.