Export trade down but no shortage of quality

The Suffolk Sheep Society South of Ireland held their first show and sale on Monday 25th July at Blessington Mart.

A large selection of sheep were placed before judges Mr John Gibb, of the famous Cairnton Flock in Scotland, and commercial breeder Mr Jim Corrigan, who was on hand to judge the lamb class.

The show’s supreme champion was a ram lamb from the Finnvale Flock of Andrew and Jonathan Lucas of Co. Donegal.

Supreme Champion. Image source: Alfie Shaw

This elegant son of Salopian Pure Gold (brother of the 200,000 gns Solid Gold record) and a Shannagh Ewe, had already been chosen by John Gibb as the winner of the open class before lining up in the championship.

While the champion was unsold, the Lucas sold a first prize pen of three lambs for €2,800, €2,600 and €2,600 respectively.

The pre-sale show reserve champion was a Rookery Rebel ram lamb from Darragh McMenamin’s Mullinvale Flock. McMenamin sold another ram lamb from Rookery Rebel for €2,500 to a buyer in Italy.

Reserve champ. Image source: Alfie Shaw

Leading the sale was local breeder Colin Watchorn’s Limestone Gold Rush ram, which was bought by Alistair Barkley for €5,200.

This ram will join the Blackbrae Flock in Northern Ireland. He had been placed second in the novice class behind an animal from Donegal-based Doherty Bros who won the red rosette with their lamb Malinhead Rossi.

Other top prizes of the day included Richard Wilson’s lamb Shannagh, which finished second in the ram sired by a class of rams bred in southern Ireland. Sired by Kells T-Rex (the 2020 Premier Champion), this ram was purchased by Richard Thompson for €3,700 while another ET brother was sold to Mark Priestley for €2,700.

The first of this class was a Ballinatone BT Buddy ram from Patrick O Keeffe’s Blackwater Flock. This ram sold for €2,000 to the Walker family. In the Errigal paddock, a lamb from The Views Unknown Legend born in January topped prices at €2,000.

Michael Hastings’ flock, based in Westport, Western Suffolks, sold a lamb from Strathbogie Joel for £2,100 after coming 4th in the novice class. In the shearling category, John Hanly’s Oakbridge Oscar ram took first place, selling for €900.

In the ladies classes, the elegant ewe of Andrew Smith, dam of Cloontagh Chieftan, won the red rosette in the shearling class and sold in the ring for €1,200.

Top honors in the ewe-lamb class went to Colin Watchorn’s Beechbrook Flock. This Limestone Gold Rush ewe lamb went on to win the women’s show champion with Andrew Smith’s ewe claiming the reserve spot.

Leading the shearling prizes at €1,400 was Coote and Leitrim-based Trevor Geelan’s Loughrynn Flock with his January-born gimmer Crewelands Drifter, who came third in his class.

Andrew Smith’s ewe lamb by Kells Wingman topped the females, selling for €2,000 to Northern Ireland breeder Dennis Taylor.

Highest price of ewe lamb at €2,000 from the Loughanleagh Flock (Andrew Smith). Image source: Alfie Shaw

export trade

A number of sheep were exported to Northern Ireland and Europe from the sale, but the export trade has fallen significantly from record figures in 2021. This can be attributed to a number of factors, including rising transportation costs.

Trade accounted for 50% of all ram sales and these animals fetched an average of €706, down slightly from last year’s prices.

Although the quantity of rams sold in the commercial sector was down slightly compared to 2021, which was partly due to the early date of the sale, a number of buyers were filling their orders early to take advantage of the wide choice on offer, the company said. . The overall average for the sale was €1,030.

The company said many new breeders participated in this year’s sale and it was encouraging to see so many young breeders getting involved in pedigree breeding.

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