How this man became one of Ireland's top sheep breeders despite having no land
You don’t need to own land to own the country’s premier pedigree Texel sheep, reports Martin Ryan
FOR Wexford man John Neville, not being a landowner has been zero deterrent to him becoming one of the most successful Texel sheep breeders in the country.
The 2017 Grovite Texel All Ireland Supreme Championship breeder's love for sheep goes back to his schooldays, when he made his first investment in the "woollies" as a young teenager - and he has lost no ground since, on his way to becoming one of the top Texel breeders of champions in the country.
He rents land to keep his flock of 60 pedigree Texels at Brownstown, Murrintown - of which his Ram Lamb UVI1701309 was awarded the top accolade at the Irish Texel Sheep Society Grovite All Ireland Championship from a line-out of 186 entries. These represented some of the top flocks in the country, whose owners themselves flocked to the sun-drenched Gorey Agricultural Show in the sunny Southeast to vie for the top award of the year for the breed.
Show judge Anna Minnice- Hughes's choice for the coveted rosette - Ram Lamb UVI1701309 - was sired by Tophill Wallstreet and out of a Strathbogie Python ewe, herself having been selected as the first-prize-winning lamb at the 2013 National Championships, while a sister bred the premier sale champion 2016.
While his first success in breeding the Supreme Champion 2017 is a milestone for John, he was aleady on a winning trail after he had collected some prestigious rosettes in 2016.
"I suppose 2016 was my most successful showing season when I had the Champion Male and Champion Female at the Premier Texel Show and Sale," he said, reflecting on the flock which he has been building up for the past 14 years.
"I have been concentrating on the female side of the breeding in recent years and made some purchases in Scotland, which has made a difference," he explained as contributing to his successes in 2016 and 2017.
The next date on the diary for the flock is the 2017 Premier Show and Sale at Blessington Livestock Mart on Friday and Saturday, August 11 and 12, where entries from the Thornville flock will be in contention for the honours again.