Dorset lambs performing well on the Co Antrim hills

Adrian Morrow with his niece Ruth overseeing their crossbred Dorset lambs
Adrian Morrow with his niece Ruth overseeing their crossbred Dorset lambs

Adrian Morrow runs a flock of crossbred ewes on a farm stretching from 200 to 800ft above sea level on the Munie road in scenic Glenarm, Co Antrim.

Having tried various breeds of rams over the last 35 years, two years ago he discovered the one breed that has worked best for him so far. Then for the first time Adrian used a Poll Dorset ram across his 60 ewes and has been delighted with the results ever since.

Straight away he noticed the ram was very virile having no issues tipping the 60 ewes quickly and resulting in a compact lambing period. Traditionally lambing commences on St Patrick’s Day, with all the ewes managed outdoors on the lower part of the farm without any supplementary feeding.

The ewes are checked morning and night being worked around Adrian’s full time job on Glenarm Castle Estate. Due to this the easy lambing trait of the Dorset ram coupled with the lambs thriftiness at birth have been highly beneficial factors.

Overall, the ewes needed little intervention to lamb successfully and neo-natal lamb losses are minimal.

Once the ewes and lambs are bonded they are moved up the farm onto the hill at between 600 and 800ft, where they graze until weaning, which occurs in mid-August. It is at this time that the first draft of lambs are taken to market, whilst the rest are finished on the lower fields of the farm after the second cut of silage has been harvested. The last batch of lambs are sold by the end of September.

All the Dorset bred lambs are finished without any creep feeding; such testament to this is a new creep feeder purchased three years ago was sold unused this year.

Of all aspects Adrian cited the Dorset lambs ability to thrive on the hill with their improved grass to daily live weight conversion and the subsequent elimination of concentrate feeding the most valuable aspect of the breed so far. However he also noted that the improved health traits amongst the Dorset bred lambs results in a cleaner batch of lambs, saving time dagging tails and reducing costs of maggot prevention and dosing also.

The NI Dorset Club would like to thank Mr Morrow for giving us an insight into his farm and highlighting the versatility of the Dorset sheep.

On Monday, July 25, the NI Dorset Club is holding their 44th Annual Premier Show and Sale at McClelland’s Livestock Market, Ballymena, Co Antrim.

This sale is will be a GB export Show and Sale. The judge will be Mr David Lewis from Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Catalogued for sale are - 61 ram lambs, five shearling rams, one senior ram, 135 ewe lambs, 24 shearling ewes and five senior ewe some of which are scanned in lamb.

The show will commence at 1.30pm and the sale will start at 6pm and is sponsored via Norbrook Pharmaceuticals Worldwide.

For any further information please contact club secretary William Carson on 07841746705.

Catalogues are available from the secretary and Ballymena Livestock Market office.