Judging at the National Suffolk Championships, by Irish Suffolk Sheep Breeder, Garth Graham

at Queretaro, Mexico

Report by Judge, Mr Garth Graham, Vice Chairman, Suffolk Sheep Society, Ireland

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!



25th July 2022, Blessington Mart

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.

South of Ireland Branch Premier Show and Sale – Blessington 2020

South of Ireland Branch Premier Show and Sale – Blessington 2020

Castleisle Kilteskin Prince achieves top price from P O’Keeffe

Date: 1st August 2020

Auctioneer: JP & M Doyle

Judge: Campbell Watson, Bannview Flock

62% clearance for the largest pedigree Suffolk sale in Ireland despite Covid-19

41BLACKWATER6,500AJ & N Robinson
112ERRIGAL3,000R Tait
94BARRONSTOWN2,600D McCaughren
131FINNVALE2,100F Collard
34KILLYCLUG2,000K Casey
46ANNAKISHA1,800G Conroy
114ERRIGAL1,700T Feeney
170BARRONSTOWN1,700PJ Howard
42LIMEPARK1,600J Trimble
64BEECHBROOK1,500R Sands
124CONVOY1,400M McNally
150BEECHBROOK1,300C Finnegan

 Click here to view top price Blackwater NBK:20:06088

Show Results

Male and Supreme Champion

Lot 74 Eamonn Duffy

C46:20:03050 by Limestone T-Rex

Reserve Male and Overall Reserve Champion

Lot 46 Arthur O’Keeffe

R15:20:06089 by Castleisle Kilteskin Prince

Female Champion

Lot 24 Kenneth Bailey

HDC:20:00121 by Cairness Corker

Reserve Female Champion

Lot 16 James O’Connell

DBJ:20:02213 by Shannagh Synergy

Single Shearling Ewe

1st Lot 9 J Hanly

G4:19:02544 by Limestone Lowry

2nd Lot 8 Kenneth Bailey

HDC:19:00066 by Cairness Foremost

3rd Lot 4 Coote Geelan

F56:19:01208 by Errigal Tubridy

Single Ewe Lamb

1st Lot 24 Kenneth Bailey

HDC:20:00121 by Cairness Corker

2nd Lot 16 James O’Connell

DBJ:20:02213 by Shannagh Synergy

3rd Lot 19 David Quinlan

UHZ:20:01537 by Mullaghboy Goliath

Ram Lamb Sired by a SOI Bred Ram

1st Lot 46 Arthur O’Keeffe

R15:20:06089 by Castleisle Kilteskin Prince

2nd Lot 118 Mssrs Wilson

78A:20:06695 by Castleisle Kilteskin Prince

3rd Lot 78 Susan O’Keeffe

BYD:20:02462 by Castleisle Kilteskin Prince

Novice Ram Lamb

1st Lot 42 Philip Byrne

TJW:20:00024 by Strathisla Speed

2nd Lot 91 B & G Doyle

UTX:20:00146 by Castleisle Capaldi

3rd Lot 170 J & E Gahan

SKW:20:00531 by Ballynacannon Royal Flush

Recorded Ram Lamb Class

1st Lot 136 Arthur O’Keeffe

R15:20:06082 by Castleisle Kilteskin Prince

2nd Lot 94 J & E Gahan

SKW20:00546 by Limestone Aston Martin

3rd Lot 97 J A Doherty

CFN:20:02960 by Strathbogie A Kind Of Magic

Open Ram Lamb

1st Lot 74 Eamonn Duffy

C46:20:03050 by Limeston T-Rex

2nd Lot 81 Andrew Wilson

DDX:20:01174 by Castleisle Capaldi

3rd Lot 41 by Patrick O’Keeffe

NBK:20:06088 by Castleisle Kilteskin Prince

Gigot Class

1st Lot 123 L & A Kilpatrick

PWW:20:00194 by Birness Hustler

2nd Lot 137 Arthur O’Keeffe

R15:20:06091 by Castleisle Kilteskin Prince

3rd Lot 149 Colin Watchorn

PXL:20:00549 by Crewelands Oscar

Irish Championships – Kilkenny 2019

Irish Championships – Kilkenny 2019

Arthur O’Keeffe’s Shearling Ewe takes 2019 Supreme Champion

Judge: Campbell Watson, Bannview Flock

Supreme Champion

Arthur O’Keeffe (Shearling Ewe)

R15:18:05795 by Shannagh Knockout

Reserve Champion

Susan O’Keeffe (Ram Lamb)

BYD:19:02137 by Strathbogie A Kind Of Magic

Male Champion

Susan O’Keeffe (ram lamb)

BYD:19:02137 by Strathbogie A Kind Of Magic

Male Reserve Champion

Philip Lynch (Shearling Ram & Upwards)

Female Champion

Arthur O’Keeffe (Shearling Ewe)

R15:18:05795 by Shannagh Knockout

Reserve Female Champion

Susan O’Keeffe (Ewe Lamb Trimmed)

BYD:19:02105 by Strathbogie A Kind Of Magic

Class 1 Shearling Ram & Upwards

1st Philip Lynch

2nd Coote Geelan

3rd Coote Geelan

Class 2 Aged Ewe & Upwards

1st Arthur O’Keeffe

R15:16:05310 by Rookery Classic

2nd Philip Lynch

3rd Patrick O’Keeffe

NBK:17:05610 by Clyda Dream Catcher

Class 3 Shearling Ewe

1st Arthur O’Keeffe

R15:18:05795 by Shannagh Knockout

2nd Susan O’Keeffe

BYD:18:02369 by Forkins Black and White

3rd Philip Lynch

Class 4 Novice Ram Lamb

1st Richard Thompson

TDL:19:02649 by Limepark Las Vegas

2nd Colin Watchorn

PXL:19:00474 by Rookery Rodeo

3rd Colin Watchorn

PXL:19:00477 by Mountford Classic

Class 5 Open Ram Lamb Class

1st Susan O’Keeffe

BYD:19:02137 by Strathbogie A Kind Of Magic

2nd Arthur O’Keeffe

R15:19:05248 by Strathbogie A Kind Of Magic

3rd Richard Thompson

Class 6 Novice Ewe Lamb

1st Ronan McLaughlin

2nd John & Esther Gahan

3rd Kenneth Bailey

Class 7 Ewe Lamb (Trimmed)

1st Susan O’Keeffe

BYD:19:02105 by Strathbogie A Kind Of Magic

2nd Arthur O’Keeffe

R15:19:05234 by Kinally Black Panther

3rd Gerry Killilea

Class 8 Ewe Lamb (Untrimmed)

1st Arthur O’Keeffe

R15:19:05256 by Burnview One For Arthur

2nd Arthur O’Keeffe

R15:19:05203 by Strathbogie A Kind Of Magic

3rd John & Esther Gahan

South of Ireland Flock Competition – 2018

South of Ireland Flock Competition – 2018

Overall Champion Eamonn Duffy celebrates Kells Flock

Judge: Mr Andrew Wilson, Castleisle Flock

This year’s flock competition was judged by the highly respected Suffolk breeder, Mr Andrew Wilson , of the Castleisle Flock, Donegal. The South of Ireland competition was held in conjunction with the Suffolk Society Flock competition this year. Eamonn Duffy had a very successful year, winning the overall trophy for best flock in Ireland. This is the second year in a row that Eamonn has lifted the South of Ireland branch trophy, and the Kells Flock also featured strongly in the 2018 Society competition lifting the Brook Perpetual Challenge Cup for the best flock of over 100 ewes, competing against flocks from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.

Overall Champion

Winner: E Duffy (Kells Flock)

Reserve: S & P O’Connor (Islandmore Flock)

Flock up to 30 Ewes

Winner: S & P O’Connor (Islandmore Flock)

Reserve: J & E Gahan (Barronstown Flock)

Flock Over 30 Ewes

Winner: E Duffy (Kells Flock)

Reserve: S & S Gahan (Barrowlands Flock)

Ewe Lamb Class

Winner: E Duffy (Kells Flock)

Reserve: C Watchorn (Beechbrook Flock)

Flock Ewes Class

Winner: R Mclaughlin (Ballyboe Flock)

Reserve: E Duffy (Kells Flock)

2nd Reserve: P Byrne (Limepark Flock)

Stock Rams

Winner: S & S Gahan “Carragh Captivate”

Reserve: S & V Tiffin “Bawnard the Rebel”