Castlewellan Blackface Sheep Breeders held their 35th annual sale of Lanark type Blackface sheep in Hilltown on Wedesday, September 13, with an entry of 1,700 quality females and 30 rams and ram lambs.
Following on from last year’s record-breaking sale, there was an air of apprehension in the lead up to the sale but this soon disappeared as the first of the female stock entered the sale ring in front of a packed gallery with a 95% plus clearance of stock.
Although the hugely increased entry resulted in a slight decrease in averages on the 2016 sale, the prices achieved again reinforced the ever increasing demand for quality Lanark type Blackface breeding stock, which increasingly has become the backbone of the whole sheep industry in Northern Ireland.
The entry of 300 plus quality Mule ewe lambs met with an excellent trade with a top price of £124 per head for McConville Brothers third pen followed closely by their first and second pens at £120 and Walsh Brothers first pen at £115 with others at £114, £108, £100, £98, £97 (two lots), £96, £92 (three lots), £91 and £90 giving an average of £94 which was down slightly on last year but £7 up on the 2015 average.
Blackface shearling ewes met with an outstanding trade to a top of £330 for S and J Fegan’s first pen and best blackface pen in the show followed closely by Stephen Maginn’s excellent pen at £210 with lots at £187, £170 (two lots), £165, £160 (twice), £155, £150 (two lots), £145 (2 lots), £142, £140, £137, £135 (five lots), £130 (two lots) with the 400 plus shearling ewes on show giving an average of £133.
A hugely increased entry of ewe lambs met with a steady trade with a top price of £142 for S & J Fegan’s prize winning pen followed by £118 with lots at £110, £104, £97, £92 (two lots), £90 (two lots), £88 and £86 (two lots) with the 370 plus ewe lambs averaging £80 while back on last year average was identical to 2015.
Aged ewes were again in great demand throughout with a top price of £160 going to S & J Fegan’s prize winning pen closely followed by his second pen at £150 with other lots at £115, £110, £104, £100 (two lots), £94, £92, £91 and £90 (three lots) with the 390 aged ewes sold averaging £82 while back on last year average was up £3 a head on 2015 average.
This year’s sale again had a class for broken mouthed ewes and again the trade was brisk with a joint top price of £64 per head for ewes from Aidan McCullough and Frankie McCullough followed closely by lots at £61, £58, £53, £48 and £47 with the 140 plus ewes averaging £51 per head showing a reduction in the sale of £10 on last year’s average.
A smaller show of rams and ram lambs met with a slower trade with Dermot Kelly’s shearling ram taking the top price of the day at 300 guineas closely followed by Seamus Maginn aged ram at 190 guineas and Stephen Maginn’s ram lamb at 160 guineas.
The sale of breeding females was again very encouraging, reflecting both the excellent quality of the stock and the key role these original and best of all easycare sheep have in farming throughout the country.
Castlewellan Blackface Sheep Breeders would like to thank all the buyers together with the sponsors for the event - Clanrye Veterinary Clinic and Glens Farms Supplies. A special word of thanks is also due to Dessie McCollum who judged the female stock on show, Newry Show, the auctioneer Jimmy Annett and to the staff at Hilltown Saleyard for their continuing help and support in this event.
Mules: 1st Walsh Brothers; 2nd McConville Brothers; 3rd McConville Brothers.
Shearling Ewes: 1st S & J Fegan; 2nd S & J Fegan; 3rd Aidan McCullough.
Ewe Lambs: 1st S & J Fegan; 2nd Frankie McCullough; 3rd Terry Rooney.
Aged Ewes: 1st S & J Fegan; 2nd B Doyle; 3rd S & J Fegan
Best Blackface Pen in show: S & J Fegan shearling ewes.