1st Prize U14 Young Handler Isabella Taylor. Pic: Alfie Shaw1st Prize U14 Young Handler Isabella Taylor. Pic: Alfie Shaw
1st Prize U14 Young Handler Isabella Taylor. Pic: Alfie Shaw

Suffolk ram lambs come out on top at this year’s NI Premier Export Show & Sale.

The Northern Ireland Branch Premier Export Show and Sale took place on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th July 2023 at Ballymena Livestock Market.

The show took place on Friday afternoon with an excellent quality of lambs and showmanship clearly to be seen and the Judge on the day was James Wallace (Claycrop) over for the day from South West Scotland.

Overall Show Champion: The Overall Champion Lot 189 from S O’Keeffe; Overall reserve Champion Lot 171 M Priestley

Male Champion: Male Champion lot 189 S O’Keeffe; Reserve Male Champion lot 171 M Priestley

Pen of three Ram lambs for the Allam Cup: 1st M Priestey lots 175, 173 & 172; 2nd P Gurney lots 144, 147 & 142; 3rd W&S Tait lots155, 156 &158; 4th D Taylor lots 93, 94 & 95; 5th A Barkley lots 74,75 & 78; 6th D Duncan lots 57, 58 & 60

Ram Lamb Class for the Suffolk Sheep Society Cup: 1st lot 189 S O’Keeffe; 2nd lot 171 M Priestley; 3rd lot 140 P Gurney; 4th lot 93 D Taylor; 5th lot 65 D Ford; 6th lot 131 S&J McCloskey

Novice Ram lamb for the Suffolk Novice Cup: 1st lot 91 R Wilson; 2nd lot 51 K Johnston; 3rd lot 167 A OKeeffe; 4th lot 188 S&J Toye; 5th lot 127 D&N Fleming; 6th lot 80 Grant Brothers

Commercial Gigot Ram lamb for the Robert H Stewart Memorial Cup: 1st lot 120 A R Gault; 2nd lot 75 RA Barkley; 3rd lot 141 P Gurney; 4th lot 156 S&W Tait; 5th lot 129 C&J Watson; 6th lot 132 S&J McCloskey

Shearling Ram Class for the Kinbally Cup: 1st lot 46 A&N Robinson; 2nd lot 43 AR Gault; 3rd lot 45 Mark Priestley; 4th lot 40 M&C McNally

Female championship: Champion lot 16 S&J McCloskey; Reserve lot 1 R&J Watson

Shearling Ewe class for the R J Allam Memorial Cup: 1st lot 16 S&J McCloskey; 2nd lot 17 D Duncan; 3rd lot 31 M Butler; 4th lot 23 C&J Watson; 5th lot 24 P Gurney; 6th lot 34 M McNally

Ewe Lamb Class for the Major WEH Workman cup:1st lot 1 C&J Watson; 2nd lot 6 J&M Maginnes; 3rd lot 4 R Blair; 4th lot 5 R Blair; 5th lot 13 K Johnston; 6th lot 10 I Donald

Young Handlers under 18s: 1st Neal Flemming; 2nd Joseph Trimble; 3rd Lewis Chambers; 4th Glen Caldwell

Young handlers under 14s: 1st Isabella Taylor; 2nd Noah Taylor; 3rd Caolan McNally; 4th Aimee Liggett; 5th Ruth Trimble; 6th Riley Gurney

Although there was a reduction in the number of sheep sold for export at the sale this year, this was more than compensated in increased local trade and a very solid commercial trade which aided a healthy clearance rate.

Patrick McVerry, chair of the Northern Irish Branch of the Suffolk Sheep Society commented on how pleased he was to see such a high standard of entries forward at the Ballymena Premier sale, a standard which has been improving year on year.

Ewe lambs

There were 13 lambs offered for sale and the Ewe lambs started with a slow bidding, but 900 gns being reached on three occasions giving a 70% clearance rate and an average of 670.83 guineas.

J&M Maginnes (Seaforde) with a single ET lamb by Howgillfoot Batman, being purchased by MPD Morrow, Mark Priestley (Limestone) with a single ET lamb sired by Castleisle Kingsman being bought by Laura Jane Fergusson and K Johnston (Rossbrook) for a twin lamb sired by Ballynacannon Cannonball hitting the top price of 900 gns.

K Johnston (Rossbrook) followed his top lot with a 700 gns sale to SR Glenn with an ET twin lamb sired again by Ballynacannon Cannonball and at the same sale price I Donald (Donbraid) with a lamb sired by Islandmoyle Amarok.

Shearling Ewes

There were 21 forward for sale and 14 changed hands at an average of 761.25 gns and a 66% clearance rate.

Reaching the top spot was lot 16 from S McCloskey (Glenroe) heading to Martin Brown at 1600 gns for a strong Shearling ewe by Crewelands Dancing Brave, followed by K Johnston’s (Rossbrook) Twin ET shearling by Larahirl Ladies Man. This was followed by D Duncan’s (Duncans) lot 17 reaching 900 gns by Forkins McCoy and going to Anthony Patton.

Shearling Rams

Five shearling rams were offered for sale leading to four going to new homes. Top of the shop was lot 46 consigned by AAJ and NAJ Robinson selling at 1400 gns and heading to M Herron.

Ram Lambs

With 130 ram lambs forward for the sale and 113 changing hands at a sale average of 1527.61 gns, a lift of 70 gns on the previous year with and increased clearance rate of 87%. Ram lambs were in demand and a good sign that the breed is in a good place.

Top of the shop was a Ram Lamb from Mark Priestley (Limestone) lot 171 selling to a syndicate in a 2 way split by Cailin Joyce & David Loftus all from Galway, South of Ireland for 12,500 guineas at the fall of the hammer. The lamb was sired by Castleisle A Kingsman and was a single ET by Blackstown UJL:20:00673 the dam was purchased at 4900 gns and the first daughter had sold at 7500 gns at the Signature Sale.

Jack Smyth (Bessiebell) followed on with his lot number 165, a twin lamb sired by Jalex King Charles from a home bred ewe running to 8000 gns and heading again to Southern Ireland with Evan Hopkins.

Mark Priestly (Limestone) then took the next three top prices for lot numbers 175 at 7000 gns to Ronan McLaughlin & Richard Thompson from Donegal, lot 170 at 5500 gns to James Wilkinson & William Tait and lot 172 again at 5500 gns to John Docherty & Sean McCloskey. These were all sired by Castleisle A Kingsman, ET single lambs and taking the top priced pen title for 2023.

Top prices

171 Limestone 12500 C Joyce & D Loftus

165 Bessiebell 8000 Evan Hopkins

175 Limestone 7000 R McLaughlin

170 Limestone 5500 J Wilkinson

172 Limestone 5500 S McCloskey

51 Rossbrook 5000 Anthony Patton

93 Ballynacannon 5000 K Johnston

140 Oakbridge 4600 A Moses

155 Burnview 4600 M Jennings

173 Limestone 3200 C Storder

189 Clyda 3000 A Bothwell

144 Oakbridge 2400 SR Glenn

177 Castlewood 2200 R Wilson

78 Blackbrae 2100 M Workman

79 Blackbrae 2100 N Christie

75 Blackbrae 2000 J Maybin

Marteye online biding proved to be prevalent at the sale with many lots sold to SOI, UK & Europe.

Thanks is extended to lead sponsors Danske Bank and also Strabane Mills, Co Tyrone, who sponsored meal for 1st prize winners in each of the classes. Advertisers – NFU Mutual, Jayne Tannahill Livestock Care, Donbraid Livestock Services, AB Europe, United Feeds, Wilsons of Rathkenny, Clean it Car Care, The Sheep Vet and OMC engineering.

A word of thanks also to all the staff of Ballymena Livestock Mart, Fraser Tweed Veterinary Inspector, John Hegarty Steward, Ben Lamb for his help at the inspection, Ian Barbour and Andrew Evans for their help and Alfie Shaw Agri images and everyone who made the show and sale a success.

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