There are many places an Irish Suffolk sheep breeder might expect to be in mid December, but Mexico would not be one of them! After receiving an official invitation from the Mexican National Sheep Breeders Association to judge the Suffolk Breed in their National Show in Queretaro (which is a city about 3 hours north of Mexico City with a population of just over 1 million), I was very much looking forward to seeing the best of Mexican Suffolk Sheep Breeding on show.
‘Feria Internacional Grandera de Queretaro’, as a show is similar in style to the likes of the Ploughing or Balmoral Show but it runs for three weeks, encompassing stock judging, rodeos, equine displays, police and army displays, a circus, concerts, retail halls, food halls and shows to mention but a few of the things which happen over its duration.
On arrival at the judging venue on Thursday December 8th (after 25 hours of travel) there was a very warm welcome from the organisers of the Ovine event – Jose Luis Cervantes (President of the Sheep Breeders Association and Juan Jose Salas, Ovine event Chairman.
With little knowledge of what to expect in terms of quality, and only some reports of more ‘leggy, lengthy sheep with smaller heads and overall, a different type of Suffolk’, I was very much looking forward to judging this extremely prestigious show. The actual grounds were huge with football pitch size marquees. As judge however, I was not allowed to enter the sheep area where all the breeds were penned, prior to judging taking place.
Several breeds were judged prior to the Suffolks, including Charollais, Texels, Dorpers as well as eight other breeds, many judged by other international judges from Europe and South Africa. The Suffolk judging took place on the Saturday. All animals entered to the show were brought to the judging ring and tethered just outside the ring to await their turn to be shown. It was with great delight that I saw a large number of quality Suffolks, who would have made the cut for any of the show circuits in Ireland.
Warm weather and good grass obviously agree with the sheep as they displayed super carcasses, great bone and generally, very good toplines. There were a small number of teeth problems but these were in the minority, but conformation was generally very good., in particular in several young lambs who were judged in groups dependent on age.
A smashing young Ram Lamb with great style, carcass and bone, from the flock of Jose Luis Cervantes took the Male Champion and the same flock produced the Female Champio nwith a superb Shearling who turned out to be a daughter of Solwaybank Major and early in lamb to a South of Ireland, Irish Suffolk Ram, Malinhead Geras.
Unlike the system here in Ireland and the UK, the only information you receive about the animals being judged is their tag number, Flock and age. No breeding information is given to the judges prior to judging. The other difference is that there is not Supreme Champion judging – there are only Male & Female Champions. Flock genetics are also judged in Classes with groups of three & four animals (male or female) from the one family.
The Super Female Champion went on to be judged in the Interbreed Competition on the Sunday against the Female Champions of all the other breeds. This competition was judged by a panel of five judges from France, Ireland, South Africa and Mexico who each had to vote to pick their Champion. To the delight of the large crowd in attendance (and myself I might add) the judges unanimously picked the Suffolk as their Interbreed Champion of the Show.
Once the Show judging was complete, the Mexican Sheep Breeders Association hosted a banquet in the transformed judging marquee for about 500 sheep breeders present at the event with a presentation of prizes and speeches after the meal.
I would very much like to congratulate the organisers of this fantastic event which was extremely well organised and ran without a hitch and to thank them for the wonderful opportunity to judge at the Show. As a fellow Suffolk Breeder it was a tremendous experience to attend such a prestigious event and to see the excellent quality of the sheep being produced in Mexico. It was also wonderful to see Irish & UK genetics breeding so well within Mexican Suffolk Flocks. I felt that there is a real understanding by the breeders in Mexico of Suffolk genetics and the importance of maintaining and improving their bloodlines for the development of the breed. The Suffolk breed in Mexico has a very bright future indeed with such forward thinking and insightful breeders developing the National Suffolk Flock.
Thankyou to all concerned for the fantastic experience and the opportunity!
The Suffolk Sheep Society recently held its AGM in Tullamore.
The meeting was Chaired by outgoing Chairman Mr Dan O’Mahony who welcomed all the attendees. Mr O’Mahony thanked the Committee for all their hard work during the year. He re-iterated that much had been achieved in 2022 and he mentioned the fact that the Society is attracting many new breeders. He also stated that in the post Brexit era, the future is looking bright for the Society and the Suffolk breed and that there are many opportunities to be availed of by breeders.
The committee were delighted to have Mr Robin McIlrath, outgoing CEO of the Suffolk Sheep Society UK, along with his wife Roberta in attendance at the meeting. A presentation was made by the Society to Robin as a token of appreciation for his all his hard work and guidance in the South of Ireland throughout his tenure as CEO and the Committee and attendees wished him well in his retirement.
Mr O’Mahony thanked attendees for coming and wished everyone well with their 2023 lambing season.
At the end of the meeting the presentation of prizes to the winners at the Premier Show took place. Winners of each class detailed 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.
Shannagh Resolve from A O’Keeffe claims 2018 Supreme Champion Title
Date: 9th June 2018
Judge: Iain Barbour, Solwaybank Flock
The 1st NSBA Championships was the chosen venue for the South of Ireland Branch of the Suffolk Sheep Society’s National championships 2018. Blessed with celestial sunshine over 80 of the highest quality Suffolks were lined out before Judge Iain Barbour from the “Solwaybank” Flock. Some classes boasted Suffolks from over ten counties. The venue was perfect.
Supreme Champion, Female Champion & 1st prize Shearling Ewe owned by Arthur O’Keeffe Sired by Shannagh Resolve; her dam by Cairness Galastar. This same ewe was reserve female of the year at the same event as last year.
Reserve Supreme Champion owned by Patrick O’Keeffe (son of Arthur) This Shearling Ewe also captured Reserve Supreme Champion & Reserve Female Champion 2nd Prize Shearling Ewe sired by Clyda Dreamcatcher: Dam by Rookery Classic
Male Champion owned by Susan O’Keeffe (president elect of the Suffolk Sheep Society) Male Champion & First Prize Ram Lamb sired by Muirton One Direction: Dam by Rookery Classic
Reserve Male Champion owned by Seamus Browne sired by Lakeview Heart of Gold: Dam by Rhaeadr Ron.
Female Champion owned by Arthur O’Keeffe sired by Shannagh Resolve: Dam by Cairness Galastar
Reserve female Champion owned by Patrick O’Keeffe sired by Clyda Dreamcatcher: Dam by Rookery Classic
Class Prize winners were as follows-
Class 1 Shearling Ram 1st Philip Lynch Castlebellingham, Co Louth ( Burnview The Duke sired by Birness Murray: Dam by Cairness Liam) 2nd Sean & Valerie Tiffin Kilgarvin, Co. Kerry 3rd Coote Geelan Carrick on Shannon,
Class 2 Aged Ewe 1st Philip Lynch Castlebellingham, Co. Louth (Sire Burnview Gin &Tonic: Dam by Cairnton the Cracker) 2nd Susan O’Keeffe Mallow, Co. Cork 3rd Kenneth Bailey Tulsk Co. Roscommon.
Class 3 Shearling Ewe 1st Arthur O’Keeffe Mallow, Co. Cork (Sire by Shannagh Resolve: Dam by Cairness Galastar) 2nd Patrick O’Keeffe Mallow, Co. Cork 3rd Susan O’Keeffe Mallow, Co. Cork
Class 4 Novice Ram Lamb 1st John Stacey Bunclody, Co. Wexford (Sire by Strathbogie Dynamite: Dam by Rhaeadr Johnny) 2nd Garth Graham Ballygawley, Co. Sligo 3rd David Quinlan Gowran, Co. Kilkenny
Class 5 Open Ram Class 1st Susan O’Keeffe Mallow, Co. Cork (Sire by Muirton One Direction: Dam by Rookery Classic) 2nd Seamus Browne Letterkenny, Co. Cork 3rd John Stacey Bunclody, Co. Wexford
Class 6 Novice Ewe Lamb 1st Aaron Kealy Dunshauglin, Co. Meath 2nd Colin Watchorn Newcastle Co. Wicklow 3rd David Quinlan Gowran, Co. Kilkenny
Class 7 Ewe Lamb 1st Philip Lynch Castlebellingham, Co. Louth,(Sire by Rookery Rodeo: Dam by Caireness Achievement) 2nd Seamus Browne Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. 3rd Patrick O’Keeffe, Mallow, Co. Cork.
Delighted sellers and delighted buyers was the theme in Roscrea on Saturday last when the South of Ireland Branch of the Suffolk Sheep Society held their Premier Show and Sale at Roscrea Mart. 100% clearance on Shearling Ewes; 93 % Clearance of Ewe Lambs: 75% clearance of Ram Lambs; 67% Clearance of Shearing Rams reflected the mood of the day. Buyers from France purchased four ram lambs and a number of very impressed Northern Ireland buyers were very happy to travel to Roscrea to invest in their choice of breeding ram lamb for the coming season.
Champion of the Show was selected by Judge Jimmy Rooney “Benwiskin Flock” as AJ & JA Lucas’s of the “Finnvale Flock” January born Ram lamb sired by Oakbridge Maxiumus. The judge was so impressed by this lamb that he chose to purchase him at the sale later in the afternoon. This same lamb was deemed as Male Champion and placed 1st in the open Ram Lamb Class.
Seamus Browne of the Errigal Flock came in as Reserve Champion with a late December born ram lamb sired by Lakeview Heart of Gold. This lamb also captured the Reserve Male Champion Rosette as was 1st prize winner in the Recorded Class and 2nd in the Group of Three Rams. Another Ram Lamb owned by Seamus, also sired by Lakeview Heart of Gold, was placed 2nd in the Open Ram Lamb Class.
Philip Lynch of the Glyde Flock followed up his success in the 2018 National Championships by winning the Female Championship for the second time in three years with a Rookery Rodeo sired Ewe Lamb, born in early January. This lamb won 1st prize in the Ewe Lamb Class as well as in the NSC in Kilkenny in June and sold for top female price of €1,200 gns. Philip also took 3rd prize in the open ram class with a Young Burnview the Duke sired lamb and 3rd in the Group of Three Rams; selling to Greg Rossiter.
Reserve Female Champion of the Show went to another Donegal Breeders Jeffrey & Robert Thornton of the Killyclug Flock. Their Shearling Ewe sired by Birness Bravado secured the Reserve Champion Rosette as well as 1st place in the Single Shearling Ewe Class.
Average prices: Shearling Ewes €910.00: Ewe Lambs €605.00: Shearling Rams €700.00: Ram Lambs €1030.00 High Prices in €gns. Seamus Browne €4,200 gns; €2,800gns: €2,000gns: €1,900gns; €1,000gns. Susan O’Keeffe €3,200: €1,600gns. John A Doherty €3,000gns: €2,600gns. William R Wilson €2,050gns twice: €1,450gns: €1,200gns. Thomas Cavanagh €2,000gns. AJ & JA Lucas €2,000gns: €1,300gns. Philip Lynch €1,200gns Philp Byrne €1,200gns Colin Watchorn €1,100gns twice. Jeffrey & Robert Thornton €1,000gns Andrew Wilson €1,000gns.
Class 1 – Single shearling ewe 1 Lot 3 J+R Thornton
PWU:17:03884 by Birness Bravado 2 Lot 2 J+E Gahan
SKW:17:00455 by Rookery Best of the Best 3 Lot 5 M+J O’Neill
DBJ:17:01921 by Ballygarvanstud Bullseye
Class 2 – Single ewe lamb 1 Lot 23 P Lynch
CZK:18:00902 by Rookery Rodeo
2 Lot 18 G Killilea
HOL:18:03298 by Solwaybank Overdrive
3 Lot 10 C Watchorn
PXL:18:00358 by Mountford Classic
Class 3 – Shearling Ram
1 Lot 26 L+A Kirkpatrick
PWW:17:00076 BY Solwaybank Major
2 Lot 28 K Bailey
HDC:17:00914 by Ballygarvanstud Flashdance
3 Lot 24 M Ennett
LZN:17:00729 by Limestone Will Griggs on Fire
Class 4 – Ram Lamb sired by a SOI Bred Ram
1 Lot 106 J Doherty
CFN:18:02731 by Malinhead Viking
2 Lot 118 T Cavanagh
KFR:18:12637 by Gulladuff McGregor
3 Lot 98 P O’Keeffe
NBK:18:05919 by Shannagh Knockout
Class 5–Recorded Class 1 Lot 52 S Browne
PBH:18:01174 by Lakeview Heart of Gold 2 Lot 158 WJ + R Wilson
78A:18:06367 by Lakeview Armani 3 Lot 77 S O’Keeffe
BYD:18:02442 by Muirton One Direction
Class 6 – Novice ram lamb 1 Lot 162 J+R Thornton
PWU:18:03955 by Birness Bacardi
2Lot 92 J+R Thornton
PWU:18:03956 by Birness Bacardi
3 Lot 116 C Watchorn
PXL:18:00384 by Mountford Classic
Class 7 – Open Ram Lamb 1 Lot 88 AJ + JA Lucas
DWT:18:01017 by Oakbridge Maximus 2 Lot 51 S Browne
PBH:18:01198 by Lakeview Heart of Gold 3 Lot 101 P Lynch