Irish Blackface breeding is on the up

Martin Faulkner and Mary Doherty, both from Muff, were the connections associated with the Champion Blackface Hogget Ewe at this year's Glencolmcille Show. Adding their congratulations were David Morgan, from Caltech Crystalyx, and Judge Paul McEvoy, from Kilcoo in Co Down
Martin Faulkner and Mary Doherty, both from Muff, were the connections associated with the Champion Blackface Hogget Ewe at this year's Glencolmcille Show. Adding their congratulations were David Morgan, from Caltech Crystalyx, and Judge Paul McEvoy, from Kilcoo in Co Down

The quality of Blackface sheep in Ireland is every bit as good as that found in Scotland, according to breeder Paul McEvoy, from Kilcoo in Co Down.

“This is because flock owners on this side of the Irish Sea have invested in the best bloodlines and have bred up accordingly.”

David Morgan, from Caltech Crystalyx with Eimer Curran, from Muff and Matthew Brennan, from Clonmany. They exhibited the Blackface Pairs' Champions at this year's Glencolmcille Show

David Morgan, from Caltech Crystalyx with Eimer Curran, from Muff and Matthew Brennan, from Clonmany. They exhibited the Blackface Pairs' Champions at this year's Glencolmcille Show

Mr McEvoy, who owns the Cairnhill Blackface flock, made these comments while judging at last weekend’s Glencolmcille Show in Co Donegal.

He added: “Blackface sheep play a tremendous role in role in helping to maintain hill areas throughout Ireland. The growing popularity of the breed is reflected in the prices now being paid at both pedigree and commercial sales.”

The event in question has been enjoying a renaissance over the past ten years, as show committee member Andrew O’Gara confirmed.

“There was a total entry of 2,400 exhibits across all the catalogued classes this year. That’s up almost 10% on 2016. Glencolmcille Show is an historic event in the West Donegal area,” he said.

David Morgan, from Caltech Crystalyx, congratulates Christopher Johnston, from Saint Johnston in Co Donegal, who won the cross bred sheep championship at this year's Glencolmcille Show. Adding his best wishes is Glencolmcille Show committee member Andrew O'Gara.

David Morgan, from Caltech Crystalyx, congratulates Christopher Johnston, from Saint Johnston in Co Donegal, who won the cross bred sheep championship at this year's Glencolmcille Show. Adding his best wishes is Glencolmcille Show committee member Andrew O'Gara.

“Changing times in the late 1950’s led to its unfortunate demise. However, the hard work put in by a group of enthusiastic volunteers has put Glencolmcille Show back on the map.

Caltech Crystalyx was one of the main sponsors of the sheep section at this year’s event. The company’s David Morgan confirmed the tremendous turnout of stock for the show, adding: “There is a tremendous demand for Crystalyx Extra High Energy Sheep tubs throughout Ireland at the present time.

“They can be used all year round to provide supplementation for ewes, rams and lambs. High in protein, energy and with a full complement of minerals, trace elements and vitamins, Extra High Energy and forage can be all flock owners need to operate a highly effective and profitable sheep rearing system.”

David added: “Crystalyx Extra High Energy has been proven by Newcastle University and Kansas State University to increase forage intake by 13% and forage digestion by 10%.

“The increased intake and digestion is key in ensuring that ewes reach the correct body condition score quickly before mating with the ram.

“Over fat or thin ewes take longer to come on heat when rams are turned in, and the oestrus period is erratic with fewer eggs shed and are thus more likely to be barren.”