The 2016 lambing season got underway at Drumgooland Texels on Friday, February 5th. The flock is owned by Paul and Baillie O’Connor, from Seaforde in Co Down.
The Drumgooland flock comprises 150 breeding ewes.
Baillie explained: “We carry out an extensive embryo transfer programme letting us breed from some of the best bloodlines. We use mules as our recipients as we find them to be easy lambers and good mothers with plenty of milk, our aim is to breed for size, skin and gigot.”
All the Drumgooland ewes are brought in six weeks before lambing. However, they lamb down in specially constructed polytunnels. These provide ample natural light, shelter and excellent ventilation for the ewes and their newborn lambs.
“We erected the first tunnel back in 2010,” Paul confirmed.
“The second followed last year. They are now permanent features on the farm, as they are tremendously useful when it comes to preparing sheep for shows and sales.”
Every effort is made by the O’Connor family to maintain the highest standards of flock management throughout the year. It is for this reason they put out Crystalyx High Energy feed buckets with all the ewes in the run up to lambing and flushing.
“They are a tremendous source of energy for the heavily pregnant ewes,” said Paul.
“Of particular significance is the tremendous vigour demonstrated by the newborn lambs.
“Once lambing is finished we will turn or attention to the show and sale season, kicking off with Balmoral show. We had a great show season in 2015 winning the Ram lamb, Ewe lamb and Aged ram classes at Balmoral. The flock also lifted breed championships at Lurgan, Armagh, Saintfield and Newry going on to win overall Volac Show Champion 2015. We are hoping for another successful show and sale season this year,” confirmed Paul O’Connor, who manages the flock with his son Baillie.
David Morgan, from Caltech Crystalyx, was a recent visitor to the O’Connor farm. He was accompanied by Christopher Walls, from Crystalyx distributor Joseph Walls Ltd, Hilltown and Clough.
“Given all of the recent rain pre-lambing ewes must maximise fresh grass and forage intakes,” explained David Morgan.
“This is key to allowing them secure the dry matter levels they need to meet their own nutritional needs and those of the lambs they are carrying.
“And it is in this context that the Crystalyx High Energy feed tubs play a crucial role.
“They represent a highly palatable and concentrated form of energy, high quality protein, minerals, trace elements and vitamins, acting to improve the efficiency of the rumen.
“At the very heart of this process is the stimulus given to the microbe populations in the rumen.
“In turn this speeds up the digestion process, thereby allowing ewes to increase their daily consumption levels of fresh grass. And this, of course, determines overall dry matter intakes.”
Christopher Walls confirmed that sales of Crystalyx High Energy tubs had increased significantly in both the South and East Down areas over the past number of years.
“Flockowners recognise the absolute importance of ensuring that their pre-lambing ewes are healthy while at grass,” he said.
“And the Crystalyx blocks tick all the boxes in this regard.”