Farm Ireland

Friday 27 April 2018

The sheep will take my mind off another Mayo defeat

Dublin’s Philly Mc Mahon and Mayo’s Diarmuid O’Connor after final whistle
Dublin’s Philly Mc Mahon and Mayo’s Diarmuid O’Connor after final whistle

Tom Staunton

Another eventful breeding sale season has just finished for us. Both ram and ewe sales - Bluefaced Leicester, Mule and Mountain Blackface - kept us busy. I am still coming to terms with another Mayo defeat in an All-Ireland final, but farming goes on and I'm sure the sheep will keep me busy to take my mind off it.

We were happy with the way our sheep sold this year and we wish all who purchased the very best of luck with them. There was noticeable increase in demand for specialised sheep sales, not just in Mayo but throughout the country. Demand for Mules continues to grows and so does the demand for their sire, the Bluefaced Leicester ram.

The premier sale was held in Ballinrobe with a tremendous clearance of sheep with the sale strong from start to finish. We were delighted with the sale and were happy getting first prizes with both a hogget ram and a ewe lamb.

The Mayo Mountain Blackface sale in Ballinrobe was also a success with a flying trade for ewes, hoggets and ewe lambs. There was a great yard of sheep and they were rewarded when they went through the ring.

The demand for Scotch sheep was evident to see at many special Blackface sales throughout the country this autumn. These sheep were making just as much and more than their bred and crossbred cousins and top ewe hoggets regularly broke the €200 mark.

The merits of the Blackface type ewe are well known and have been proven on different pastures and management systems for centuries. From their well-known ability to thrive in hill and mountain situations to increased output on lowland, the Blackface ewe is truly adaptable.

Their foraging and mothering characteristics are well known and when crossed on a Bluefaced Leicester or other ram breeds, they can produce a quality prolific lamb for breeding replacement ewes for the lowland flocks.


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I managed to purchase some Scotch Blackface type hoggets to help boost numbers and these will join up with the rest of the flock for the busy mating period ahead. The bought-in sheep got the same prep pre-mating as the main flock. This included fluke dosing, mineral and vitamin supplementation and tail clipping. One of my aims for the breeding season is to disturb the ewes as little as possible and by doing all these jobs pre-breeding I hope to achieve this.

The Pedigree Bluefaced Leicester ewes were inseminated last week by ProStar genetics. It was a busy day and I have found that preparation is vital. There is no point trying to use expensive straws and AI unless the sheep are in the correct condition.

The programme of sponging and removal of sponges has to be followed to the letter of the law to help maximise results.

I have used a couple of different rams this time. I used straws from a very successful flock in the Britain that is breeding both top class Bluefaced Leicesters and Mules. I am confident that I can transfer this success in my own flock and improve the Bluefaced Leicesters and my Mule lambs further. Some Lanark Blackface ewes were also inseminated to top class rams to improve the Blackface side of the flock. The crop of lambs for next year is already in the making.

Some wether lambs remain on the farm and are currently getting meal to help boost thrive and body condition. I aim to sell these in batches at French weights over the coming weeks.

Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo

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