Hampshires planning for spring open day

Crossbred sheep with lambs sired by Hampshire Down ram, grazing in pasture. Cumbria
Crossbred sheep with lambs sired by Hampshire Down ram, grazing in pasture. Cumbria

The Irish Hampshire Down Sheep Club will be holding an open day and spring barbecue on Saturday, April 8th on the farm of Anna and Kevin McCarthy at Comber, Co Down.

The theme will be flock recording as a means to producing Hampshire rams that can deliver increased commercial flock performance and reduced inputs.

Kevin and Anna have been breeding Hampshires for over 25 years and from the early days have been committed to recording their flock as a tool to evaluate individual performance as an aid to stock selection. Today they are members of the Signet Breeding Scheme.

Having been involved in several other breeds they are now concentrating on the Hampshire as the breed’s ability to pass on the trait of finishing quickly off grass with no concentrate inputs is now being more and more sought after by commercial farmers.

Selection from performance figures for growth rate and muscling have seen the Ballycreelly flock increase their eight week weight by nearly 3kg and muscle depth by over 2mm. This translates to commercial crossbred lambs sired by high genetic value Hamps finishing faster and with better conformation. This in combination with their excellent food conversion ratio means Hamp lambs regularly finish off grass only from 10 weeks of age and with the great majority clearing by 16 weeks.

Last year’s Hampshire sired commercial lambs from the holding all graded in either class E or U and all were cleared by 14 weeks.

The Hampshire breed has been growing from strength to strength as its combination of unique selling points are being discovered by sheep farmers all over the UK and abroad.

Indeed a group of 14 Belgian farmers and another group of English producers have already booked flights to attend the open day.

The day will conclude with a Hampshire lamb barbecue supplied by leading butcher Jim Quail and an early evening knees up with music from the local popular group “Full as a Sheugh”.

For details contact Vicky McFadden, secretary, on 07897 803 422.