Omagh Business Development group meeting

Nigel Gould, CAFRE Beef & Sheep Development Adviser along with William Barton Omagh.
Nigel Gould, CAFRE Beef & Sheep Development Adviser along with William Barton Omagh.

A Business Development Group meeting was recently hosted by William Barton near Omagh in Co. Tyrone, writes Nigel Gould, Beef and Sheep adviser, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

William farms alongside his father, Noel and brother, Richard. William is in a sheep group while Noel is in a beef finisher group.

Between the Bartons, they run a total of 400 ewes in addition to approximately 50 Angus X dairy steers and heifers finished each year.

The latter are purchased as drop and reared calves and are finished at around 22 months of age.

Approximately 200 store lambs were also purchased last autumn and finished.

A common theme on 
the farm is production 
efficiency.

The 2018 CAFRE benchmarking report showed that 1.82 lambs were reared per ewe put to the ram.

This includes ewe lambs put to the ram. Having ewes in good body condition, the use of teaser rams, a high level of feeding management pre-lambing and a hands-on approach from all family members contributes to their consistently good record of live lambs on the ground.

All lambs are finished and marketed through Linden Foods.

Lambing this year commenced on March 10 for the mature ewes and early April for ewe lambs.

The first lambs were drafted for slaughter in mid-June.

Lambs in the past often tended to be over the factory carcase weight limit.

However this has been a rarity to date this year as lambs are being weighed and handled regularly with the aim of drafting as soon as they meet market specification.

Ewe type is a mixture of predominantly Mule and Suffolk X Mule ewes.

A strict culling policy is in place with any problem ewes culled including those which prolapsed or are persistently lame.

Growing as much grass as possible on the farm is another aim on the farm with a policy of reseeding along with regular liming and fertiliser application being a key driver of success in this regard.