Having exhibited the male champion at Paris in the spring of 2017, Jean Luc Berger from Viriat, Bourg-en-Bresse, was delighted to accept the invitation from the RUAS to judge the Ile De France classes at Balmoral.
Although his own flock is predominantly an Autumn lambing flock relying on home grown cereals, corn (maize) silage and hay, an increasing tendency for prolonged dry summers had seen an increasing use of grass silage as a reliable food source.
With stiff competition across all classes he eventually found his champion in Garveway Deschamps (a four year old Senior Stock Ram) with the reserve champion going to the Senior ewe exhibited by Rebecca and Georgina Mulligan.
However with the judging over he took time to visit local breeders to see how the versatility of the Ile de France had allowed it to adapt to the grass based systems in Northern Ireland. Performance was similar regarding lambing percentages with the top flocks recording 180% + and comparisons between the recorded flocks also showed similarities at the eight week (Signet) and the 70 day weights used in France.
One noticeable difference he observed however was the emphasis on conformation. Being involved with performance recording at home, Jean Luc is obliged to inseminate 30% of the flock with nominated sires. These ram lines have been selected following performance testing at Verdilly in Northern France and are used to identify the “Elite” sires of the future to promote maternal as well as meat genetics. This commitment to record has been the mainstay of the Ile de France Society for decades and pays significant dividends to the breeders involved.
In Jean Luc’s own particular case 50 (12 month old rams) are purchased annually each Autumn by a local cooperative and in recent years strong demand from Eastern European countries Serbia and Bulgaria has resulted with virtually all the females born being retained either within his own flock or being exported for breeding.
With over 40 years having elapsed since Ile de France genetics were imported to Northern Ireland Jean Luc has witnessed at first hand how the versatility of the Ile de France has adapted successfully to the local agricultural scene.
2017 saw strong competition for the annual club awards in the 2017 show season.
Zoetis Breeders Cup - 1. Garveway Flock: Rebecca & Georgina Mulligan; 2. Tullyheran Flock: Rodger Milligan; 3. Carrick Flock: Edward & Stewart Adamson.
Closamectin Show Team of the Year - 1. Garveway Flock: Rebecca & Georgina Mulligan; 2. Glenhoy Flock: David Mulligan; 3. Carrick Flock: Edward & Stewart Adamson
Breed champions at local shows were also exhibited by Loughorne Flock: James Donaldson (Castlewellan) and the Mountnabview Flock: David Dalzell (Lurgan) in addition to the above flocks.
Champion Male of the Year - Garveway Senator: Rebecca & Georgina Mulligan
Reserve Champion Male - Glenhoy Bucamps: David Mulligan.
Champion Female of the Year - Garveway Flock: MG111-N62
Reserve Champion Female - Glenhoy Flock: MG111-S349.