Dorset Club prepares for a busy year ahead

Amy McConnell at NI AGM with Tommy Armstrong, Provita.
Amy McConnell at NI AGM with Tommy Armstrong, Provita.

2018 promises to be a busy year for the NI Dorset Club, commencing with the breed’s fifth promotional sale to be held in J.A.McClelland & Sons Livestock Mart, Ballymena on Monday 12th March, kindly sponsored by Provita Animal Health.

Indeed the Dorset year has already got underway with the recent AGM being held in Antrim on Tuesday 13th February where a packed venue heard of the benefits of using the many and varied products of Provita. The club members were left in no doubt by the Provita representative Mr Tommy Armstrong that all sheep farmers’ needs could be met by their products.

"Four Nations" winning team with James Royan, host.

"Four Nations" winning team with James Royan, host.

Of particular interest was the pre tupping regime outlined by Tommy which included the use of ProVitaMin Sheep Drench, which will improve fertility and also aid growth, performance and thriftiness in sheep. The benefits of other Provita products such as Jump Start and Energy Plus were also highlighted.

The club would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Armstrong for his presentation to the AGM and to Provita as sponsor of the Spring Sale.

This year heralds a new development, in regard to the Spring sale of elite Dorsets with a limited selection of top quality hoggets being brought forward to the sale ring. This differs from the previous Spring sales where only rams showing the best qualities of the breed were entered.

The NI Dorset Club feels that the introduction of hoggets is an appropriate measure to take given the very keen demand for breeding females, and look forward to seeing this trend developing in the years ahead. This initiative will give prospective and established breeders the opportunity to add to their flock in time for commencing the 2018 breeding programme, with ewes going to the rams in April in order to lamb down in September, which essentially is the beginning of the Dorset breeding calendar.

Allister McNeill Society Reserve Champion with Mary Cubitt, judge.

Allister McNeill Society Reserve Champion with Mary Cubitt, judge.

The past year has seen NI Dorset breeders continuing to build on their reputation as being producers of top quality stock. This has been evident, not only in NI but also in GB, with four figure prices being regularly realised in sales such as the National May Fair held in Exeter, and the annual sale held in Borderway Mart, Carlisle.

Indeed the final event of 2017 finished on a high note in Scotland when 26 NI Dorset club members travelled to the National AGM. This was a weekend to remember, with the NI Team consisting of Thomas Wright, James Robson, William Carson and Ben Lamb winning the “4 Nations” stock judging as shown in the photograph. The success of Allister and Pamela McNeill’s Kilvaddy Flock in winning Champion Flock in NI and Reserve Champion Flock in the UK Flock Competition, topped off the accolades being bestowed on the NI Dorset breeders.

This is an exciting time for the Dorset breed with both pedigree breeders and commercial farmers realising the full attributes of the breed. With some interesting new bloodlines coming forward and the commercial farmers’ growing awareness of the capacity of the breed to finish on the minimum of concentrates, the NI Dorset Club is looking forward with confidence to a successful evening sale on Monday 12th March.

Sale commences at 7pm, preceded by judging of classes by Amy McConnell (Beechmount Flock) at 5.30pm.