Breeders turn out for Ballyhamage Dorset Flock viewing and open day

Three generations of the Robsons.

Three generations of the Robsons.

THE Northern Ireland Dorset Club held an open day and flock viewing recently at the Ballyhamage farm, Burn Road, Doagh, Ballyclare on a cold frosty afternoon but a warm welcome was extended to all the Dorset members by the hosts, the Robson Family.

A good turnout of members joined James Robson as he led the way around the paddocks pointing out points of interest in the different batches of sheep.

The Ballyhamage flock was placed first in the small flock section of the N.I. Flock competition and went on to be awarded Reserve Champion overall behind the Downkillybegs flock which won the large flock section and Champion flock.

Young breeders James and Craig Robson also won the Petty France award for the best small flock in the National Flock competition.

This is a wonderful achievement as the boys are only 15 and 10 respectively, but already they have a wealth of knowledge passed down from their father and grandfather.

As James pointed out, the Ballyhamage flock was established before he was born, as his father purchased his first Dorset ewe lambs in Ballyclare Livestock mart in 1979.

From then on the two Georges gradually built up the flock until it became one of the largest flocks of pedigree Dorset ewes in the UK.

For a variety of reasons the flock has been run on a commercial basis for many years so although the sheep are almost all purebred poll Dorset they have not been registered with the Dorset Association since 2001, but with the arrival of the third generation, things are changing.

James began to attend the July Premier sale of the N.I. Dorset Club from the age of nine where he and his grandfather selected stock to help strengthen the commercial flock.

Then in 2008 Granda George purchased a pair of ewe lambs from David Rossiter’s Huish flock for James and Craig and from then on the pedigree flock has been steadily growing from strength to strength.

After viewing the stock rams used, this year’s crop of ewes and lambs and a batch of shearling ewes, born in September 2011 it was evident that there will be more success ahead for these young breeders.

George Jnr then gave an opportunity to see the commercial flock and hear how he manages his frequent lambing system, which certainly showed how the Dorset breed can be used to provide a year round income.

After the flock viewing club members were able to watch Mr Trevor Knox, vice chairman of the N.I. Dorset Club, judge four shearling ewes and explain to the audience how he placed them and what were the strengths of each sheep. He also demonstrated how to produce sheep at the right age and weight for slaughter. As there were many young and inexperienced breeders present, Chairman Mr Ben Lamb shared his experience, demonstrating how to trim sheep in preparation for shows and sales.

This very informative afternoon was followed by excellent hospitality. Everyone was treated to a wonderful feast of burgers and buns which was very much appreciated by all.

The N.I. Club would like to thank the Robson family for all the hard work which went into this very enjoyable afternoon.


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