Open day at champion Dorset flock

Thomas with this award winning ewe flock
Thomas with this award winning ewe flock

On March 7th, a cool and blustery Saturday, 60 members of the Northern Ireland Dorset Sheep Club gathered in Ballymoney for a viewing of the Ballytaggart flock of Polled Dorsets owned by Thomas Wright.

In a highly successful 2014 the Ballytaggart flock was placed 1st prize stock rams, 1st prize ewe lambs, 1st place large flock and subsequently awarded champion flock in both the Northern Ireland and National competitions.

It was also a prosperous year on the show circuit for the Ballytaggart team topped off by showing the Royal Ulster Champion.

First for inspection were batches of December and January born lambs mostly sired by the English bred Manorcroft Ultimatum purchased at Mayfair and his first prize winning home bred Uppercut. There were plenty of eye catching lambs, many of which were born to hoggets demonstrating the great mothering ability of the Dorset ewe from an early age. Thomas’s replacement ewe lambs were next on the agenda; these splendid lambs were compact, stylish and showed great character. Following in convoy members then arrived to inspect Thomas one hundred and twenty dry ewes freshly turned out with the teaser in preparation for tupping in April. Although not easy to produce sheep at this time of year, the quality and strength of the ewe flock was for everyone to see, with ewes ranging from hoggets through to eleven year old ewes still fit for the ram. Lastly while everyone gathered for refreshments three stock rams were on view, Ballytaggart Tonka, Uppercut and the newly purchased Kildowney White Lightening. Also penned were Thomas’s prime September born ram lambs which will be shown in the 2015 sales.

On this tour of the Kilraughts countryside breeders got an insight into the high level of shepherding that goes into the Ballytaggart flock. Ewes with lambs at foot were neatly split into cohorts allowing for easy management. With tails neatly dagged and uniform body condition scores, the Ballytaggart ewes were in peak condition for the ram. All this is just a snippet of the amount of effort required behind the scenes to achieve the accolade of champion flock. Those who attended would like to thank Thomas for sharing his knowledge by answering the numerous questions posed and to the Wright family for warmly hosting this open day.

As Dorset breeders nationwide are preparing for tupping time, the club is holding a show and sale of choice pedigree Dorset ram lambs and shearlings. This sale will be held Monday, 30th March at McClelland’s Livestock Mart Ballymena, showing commencing at 5.30pm followed by the sale at 6.30pm.

For a catalogue or any further information contact club secretary William Carson on 07841746705.