Over the past few years Malcolm Keys from Fintona, Co.Tyrone has developed a keen interest in Poll Dorset sheep and now runs a flock of 75 pedigree ewes and 40 pedigree ewe lambs alongside his 250 commercial ewe and 45 commercial ewe lambs.
Impressed with how his purebred Dorset sheep were performing he began using a Poll Dorset ram on his commercial ewe lambs, with great results so far. Looking back on last year’s lambing records Malcolm was able to point out that 45 ewe lambs went in lamb to the Poll Dorset ram, with only three of those needing intervention to lamb successfully.
Malcolm noted that the lambs were especially vigorous and quick to stand and suck, with none of the Dorset cross lambs needing stomach tubed with artificial colostrum, saving a lot of time and expense. He has been happy with the growth rates the Dorset lambs were achieving without creep feeding and found the lambs easily fleshed to achieve good cover at 22kg dead weight. In the past when using other breeds on his ewe lambs Malcom found it necessary to run the lambs into much heavier weights to reach maturity. He has also found a market for the cross bred Dorset ewe lambs, as they are sold to a local shearer to be incorporated into an early lambing system producing lambs for the Easter market as they still retain the ability to lamb out of season.
Malcolm has found that by using the Dorset ewes ability to lamb out of season in September and December and by lambing the commercial ewes in March and the ewe lambs in April, he ensures prime lambs and pedigree stock are ready for market nearly all year round, which has helped spread income on his sheep enterprise to all year round and not seasonal like most traditional systems.
The NI Dorset Club is holding their Inaugural Omagh Show and Sale on Friday, 19th August at Omagh Livestock Centre. Show 5.00pm, Sale 7.00pm. Catalogued are nine ram lambs, three shearling rams, 62 ewe lambs, 29 shearling ewes and five senior ewe entries. Many of the females entered are running with or scanned in lamb to top class pedigree rams. This show and sale is kindly sponsored by TopFlock.
Catalogues are available at www.nidorsetclub.co.uk or contact 07841746705.