Ewes impress Mayo group on Scottish trip
Irish hill sheep farmers visit top breeders and Lanark ram sale
A group of hill sheep farmers from the Mayo Mountain Blackface Group and the Mayo/ Connemara Ram Group recently travelled to Scotland to visit some top notch sheep breeders and also the premier Lanark ram sale.
The farmers came from Achill, Belmullet, Ballycroy, Newport, Louisburgh and Tourmaceady. The aims of the trip were to examine hill sheep efficiencies along with getting practical information on methods of improving and marketing of hill sheep.
The group flew from Galway to Edinburgh and the first holding visited was Remony Farm in Perthshire. The primary business is hill farming but owner James Duncan Millar has diversified into tourism, forestry and sports (the farm hosts shooting parties for pheasant, deer and grouse), with electricity generation providing another income stream.
The farm runs 1,600 Lanark type ewes, along with 50 suckler cows (Shorthorn x Highlander x Salers bred to Charolais bull). The calves from the suckler herd are sold to a brother's farm at weaning.
The ewes are split into three flocks (hersils) with one flock in the Signet recording scheme, with recorded rams from it used on the other flocks. Yearling rams (tups) are mainly selected from the recorded flock also. James commented that recording is seen as an additional tool to help select the best rams and is improving the overall flock as a result.
Lambing starts April 10, ewes are scanned in January with doubles receiving 0.5kg concentrate for five weeks pre lambing. If snow is heavy all ewes are offered silage. The scan results were disappointing in last year and head shepherd David Nicol put it down to wet weather and unusually early snow. After lambing, singles go to the hill while doubles are kept on the lowland.
Lambs are slaughtered from January to March at 40kg liveweight after grazing a mixture of rape and kale and concentrates. The lambs generally made £80-85/hd or €91-97/hd.