UGS visit to North Antrim sheep farm

UGS President Sam Watson (right) discussing preparations for the forthcoming farm walk with host farmer Eoin McCambridge.
UGS President Sam Watson (right) discussing preparations for the forthcoming farm walk with host farmer Eoin McCambridge.

Ballycastle sheep farmers John and Eoin McCambridge are hosting an Ulster Grassland Society (UGS) farm walk on Thursday, August 10, at 6.30pm.

The farm is predominantly grassland based with 15.6 ha of willow coppice. The sheep flock comprises 500 ewes of Suffolk/Cheviot, Suffolk/Texel and Texel/Suffolk breeding crossed with Texel, Charollais and Suffolk rams. However the breeding policy has recently changed by introducing Belclare rams to produce a smaller, easier maintained but more productive ewe.

For the same reason some pure bred Lleyn ewes have also been introduced in September 2016 and visitors to the farm will gain an insight of how these changes have affected performance to date (currently in the top 10% of CAFRE Benchmarked flocks). Sixty ewe lambs are retained each year for breeding with a further 50 hoggets bought each year.

The majority of lambs are finished off grass with approximately 20-30 tail ends housed in October and finished indoors. Approximately six-seven hectares per year are reseeded with intermediate and late PRG mixtures with an APV spring tine harrow/seeder.

The farm has established a SRC willow crop with approximately 10 ha harvested each year in a three year rotational cycle producing around 150 tonnes at 16% moisture content. This is chipped, dried on site and sold to a company that produces fire logs and also to other businesses requiring biomass fuel. The farm also generates electricity from the adjacent river and a 30kw WKV Crossflow turbine was installed ten years ago producing an average of 200,000 Kwh of electricity each year.

The farm walk is located at 75 Cushendall Road, Ballyvoy, BT54 6QY, which is 1.7 miles past Ballycastle Golf Club.

A cup of tea will be available on arrival with the farm walk commencing at 7pm. A barbecue meal will be available after the walk at a cost of £15 to non-UGS members.

Those wishing to attend should contact the secretary on 07920 037 910 by August 7 or for further information email secretary@ulstergrassland.co.uk.