The Suffolk Sheep Society South of Ireland were delighted to be a part of the Sheep 2023 Event held on Saturday June 17th in Gurteen Agricultural College. Suffolk Breeders came out in their droves to be a part of the National Suffolk Championships. The event was again sponsored by Connolly’s Redmills and we would like to express our sincere gratitude to them for their support.
While the weather was very inclement as breeders arrived with their stock, thankfully, the sun came out from the clouds and shone for the entire Suffolk judging.
Judge for the day was Mr. Martin Butler of the acclaimed Castlewood Flock, Ballymena and he was faced with some very difficult choices in each class.
Judging commenced with the Shearling Ram & upwards class with some very strong rams on display. It was Philip Lynch’s Clyda Awesome stock ram sired by Ballinatone BT Buddy who claimed the top spot with Susan O’Keefe claiming the reserve spot.
In the Aged Ewe class, Susan O’Keeffe dominated the field with her ewe which was sired by Castleisle Kilteskin Prince out of a Cairness ewe. This same female had taken the Champion Spot at the National Championshipsin 2022 and she caught the judge’s eye again this year, claiming the red rosette over a very smart ewe from John Molloy’s Glencolmcille Flock.
The Shearling Ewe Class was an exceptional class with almost 25 of the top breeding Shearlings in the country on show. Martin Butler had an extremely difficult task to whittle them down. In the final line-up however, it was Susan O’Keeffe who once again claimed the top spot with a very smart ewe once again, sired by Ballinatone BT Buddy. Reserve in this class remined in the family with Arthur O’Keeffe claiming the reserve spot.
The Novice Ewe lamb class was a stylish affair with the Doherty Brothers from Malinhead dominating a strong class. Emerging as Champion and reserve in the class were two full sisters sired by Crewelands Dancing Brave from a home bred Malinhead ewe.
These two sisters then went on to compete in the Open Ewe Lamb class where one claimed the red rosette and a very smart lamb from the Clyda Flock of Susan O’Keeffe claimed the reserve spot.
In the untrimmed Ewe Lamb Class, the filed was once again dominated by John and Martin Doherty whose very stylish lamb claimed the red rosette over Arthur O’Keeffe’s lamb.
The Novice Ram Class was dominated by Eamonn Duffy of the Kells flock who claimed first and second place with two very breedy ram lambs. The Champion, Kells Bacardi, was sired by Fongoy Rocket from a Hogillfoot ewe. Once again, these two top placed rams moved into the Open class to compete in a very strong class of powerful rams. In this instance, the judge tapped out Arthur O’Keeffe’s Blackbrae AB President sired lamb bred out of a home bred Annakisha Ewe as his class Champion, with Eamon Duffy’s Novice winner taking the reserve spot.
The Young Handler’s Class, sponsored by Animax Vet is always a class enjoyed by everyone. This year it was Lorna Bailey of the Lismurtagh Flock who took the top honours. The judge was very impressed with her handling skills. The runners up in the class were Tara Bailey, Conor Bailey and Thomas Duffy. Well done to all the Young Handlers on a job well done!
When it came to the Championships, the judge’s deliberations were long and hard, such was the quality of stock on show in front of him.
The Female Championship was eventually decided with Susan O’Keeffe’s aged ewe claiming the top spot with Martin and John Doherty’s Ewe Lamb, who had previously won the Novice and the Open Ewe lamb classes claiming reserve.
The Male Championship was another difficult choice for the judge but it was Philip Lynch’s Shearling ram, Clyda Awesome who was tapped out with Arthur O’Keeffe’s ram lamb, a close second.
In the final line-up, it was Susan O’Keeffe’s Aged Ewe who continued her winning streak from 2022 by claiming the top spot of the Championship taking Supreme Champion of the show.
The Doherty’s Ewe lamb was a very worthy recipient of the Reserve Champion spot.
The Society would like to thank our two very generous sponsors of the event – Connollys Redmills and Animax Vet (Young Handler Class).
The Suffolk Sheep Society South of Ireland would like to commend all our breeders who attended the Championships. The quality of stock on display was second to none and is testament to the time and effort undertaken by breeders to continue improving bloodlines within the breed.
We would also like to express our gratitude to the Sheep 2023 Committee on an extremely well run and interesting event. It was a credit to all involved.
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.