‘Suffolks can’t be beat’ - That’s the verdict of Paul Butler, a third generation farmer from Martinstown, Co Antrim.
Paul runs 190 Suffolk/Mule and Dorset/Texel crosses on 58 acres with about 200 acres of winter grazing taken locally.
Paul says: “We would aim to lamb about 350 lambs from those 190 ewes lambing in January and February. I tend not to keep any of my lambs as replacements as I don’t have the ground to run them on. My objective is to get those lambs to market as quickly as possible.”
That’s where the Suffolk ram comes in. Paul says: “We’ve tried a full range of other breeds as terminal sire, all of which have their good and bad points, but this year I am going back to the Suffolk 100%.
“In my experience,” he continued, “the Suffolk sired lambs simply can’t be beat by any other breed for size, weight gain and rapid finishing.
“Using a Suffolk ram on my ewes I find I can get my lambs away to market in 11/12 weeks and at great grades. Using another breed of ram my lambs can be up to five weeks behind which, of course increases production costs and is uneconomical.”
Paul also buys in up to 580 stores lambs in the autumn split 450 Suffolk crosses to 130 others.
“If I could get them I’d have them all Suffolk crosses for higher weight gain.
“My thinking is simple. I buy the best ewes I can and the same goes for Suffolk tups. I don’t see the point in not buying the very best ram you can. to do otherwise is a false economy. I will be at the sales this year with that in mind.”