Beauty and the best for Richard
Sheep breeder reveals how focusing on quality and not quantity has been key to producing prized Charollais
With the showing season now taking off for 2016, sheep breeders like Richard Allen will be hoping their work over the past year will be rewarded in the judging rings.
The full-time electrician is concentrating on quality rather than quantity for the Charollais flock on the land at Dunlavin in west Wicklow as he follows in the footsteps of his grandfather and breeder John Allen.
For Richard, who loves the challenge of breeding and caring for the flock as a part-time producer, small is beautiful - and also proving successful for him.
"I started in 2003 - I had up to 30 breeding ewes at that time - but got out after a couple of years and did not get back in again until 2013. I built up the flock further in 2014," he explained.
"I am keeping the numbers small but I am going for quality and trying to produce the best that I can. My decision was to keep the numbers down and the quality up and, in that way, I would be able to do them better and more successfully," he added.
Last year, he saw the fruits of his best-laid breeding plan shinning brightly in the show rings at a number of the agricultural events during the summer months.
The cream of the season was showing the All-Ireland Champion Charollais Ewe added to by the very successful sale of the champion at the Premier Sale for €1,360.
"I had been planning for that for a couple of years. That was the aim when I went back into sheep. I was targeting to go for quality," he said.