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Ballymena Ram Sale

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A lack of real breeders’ sheep, coupled with the continued uncertainty in the industry, resulted in most averages falling on the year at the Ulster Ram Breeders’ Association sale of Blackface rams at Ballymena.

Averages: North-type – 50 shearling rams, £621.60 (-£334.78 for two more sold); 89 ram lambs, £1454.54 (+£17.68 for six more). South-type – 244 shearling rams, £1091.63 (-£114.75 for 10 more; 92 ram lambs, £1184.22 (-£1015.64 for six less).

In contrast to last year’s event which saw a top price of 28,000gns and a further 11 five-figure sales, the mix of north and south-type sheep saw just two – 11,000gns and 10,000gns both of which were paid for the latter type.

It was nevertheless North-type lambs that enjoyed the best of the day’s trading selling to 9500gns and 7500gns. They also produced the lead average at £1454.54, which is £18 up on the year and for more sold.

Topping the trade was the No 2 south-type lamb from James McCurdy’s Correen flock, Broughshane, which sold to Davie and Jock Jackson, Pole, Lochgoilhead. They paid 5500gns for a half share, with Mr McCurdy paying the remainder to retain a share. For their money, they get a son of the £52,000 Dalblair lamb sold last year at Dalmally, out of a ewe by a home-bred son of Commanche.

The other five-figure bid was given for John and Patrick Harkin’s south-type shearling from Loughash, Donemana. He is by a £24,000 Dalchirla lamb sold at Dalmally in 2021 and out of a ewe by an £11,000 Nunnerie. He headed home with Kieran Donaghy, and Billy Grant, Cloughfin.

Several north-type sheep sold to Scotland, including the pre-sale champion, a ram lamb from Gerard Breslin, Broughshane, selected by the judge, Gavin Shearer, who was most impressed by his choice of champion.

“He’s just the type of lamb I like with great size, shape, colours, and lugs. He really stood out for me,” said Mr Shearer who farms at Hillhead of Morinsh, Glenlivet with his brother Neil and their father John.

The champion, a son of 2600gns Joe Adams lamb bought last year here, later sold for 5000gns to Hillhead of Morninsh.

The top-priced north-type lamb at 9500gns from Joe Adams who farms with his father Tom and brother Archie, Rathkenny, was bought by Michael Smyth, Limavady, who was buying back some of his own genetics. The sire is the 9500gns Michael Smith lamb sold last year here, with the dam being a daughter of a £7500 Achnacloich.

Sale leader from James McCurdy at 11,000gns

The second reserve north-type champion from Billy Grant and sons Seamus and Joseph, Cloughfin, made 7500gns. A member of the first prize group and unbeaten in his class all summer, he is by a £4000 Woolfords tup bought at Stirling in 2021 and bred from a ewe by a 4200gns Harkin. The buyer was Brendan McAllister, Glenarm.

Woolford Genetics was also behind a 6500gns ram lamb sale from Paul McEvoy’s Cairnhill flock from Kilcoo, purchased by Shaun Og McCoskar. Third at Plumb Show, he is by a £10,000 Woolfords bought at Stirling in 2022 and out of a ewe by a £4000 Woolfords that was bought in utero of a Woolfords ewe bought at an online sale.

Scottish genetics were also behind a 5000gns north-type lamb when the Conway brothers, George and John, Plumbridge, sold to Tom Adams and sons Joe and Archie, Rathkenny. Inter-breed champion at Plumbridge Show, he is by a £9000 Hillhead of Morinsh and bred from a ewe by a Glenhead sire.

Other top prices amongst the south-type saw Seamus and James Fegan of Crossbrae Blackfaces, sell a shearling ram at 9000gns to Glackmore and Michael McFall. Unbeaten in his class, this big fella is by a home-bred son of a £12,000 High Staward and bred from a show ewe by a £7000 Crossflatt.Top priced shearling at 10,000gns from John and Patrick Harkin

Oliver and Sean Brannigan’s Glenbeg flock from Dungannon had a good day with a shearling at 5500gns and ram lambs at 4800gns and 4000gns. The former was purchased by Christie McHenry.

The 4800gns lamb is by a £20,000 Dalchirla shearling, bred from a ewe by £52,000 Crossflatt and sold to Brian Devine.

The second top price amongst the south-type ram lambs was 7500gns paid for the pen leader from Gordon Crawford’s Aghalane flock from Parkmore. He is by a home-bred son of a £12,000 High Staward and bred from a ewe by a son of a £2000 Crossflatt. The buyers were Chris Toner, Peter Morgan and Kevin McCullough.

Other top-priced north-type lambs heading across the Irish Sea to Scotland included a 3000gns entry from Thomas Harkin, purchased by David Baillie, Calla, Carnwath; a 2600gns Vincent Brennan lamb bought by Doldy Farms, Glenisla; a 2400gns Thomas Harkin lamb bought by Sandy and Steven Smith, Knowehead, Glenkindie; and a 2200gns lamb from Tom Adams which sold to Stephen Duncan, Achdregnie.

Top priced south-type entries bought by Scottish flockmasters included a 4800gns shearling from Charlie and Christine Philips, Finglen, bought by Allan Wight, Midlock and Ian Hunter, Dalchirla with a 3200gns shearling from the same home selling to Alistair and David McArthur, Nunnerie. South-type lambs heading across the water included a 3200gns Charlie Harkin bought by C Little, East Bracklinn, and a 3000gns Colm McAteer lamb purchased by Sanny Blackwood, Greenside.

Auctioneers: Ballymena Livestock Mart.

Judging of the show was carried out by Sandy Smith, Scarhill,(Champion of Champions) Noel P Walsh, Glenalligan(Shearlings) and Gavin Shearer, Hillhead of Morinsh (Ram Lambs) with Gerard Breslin receiving the Champion of Champions rosette and selling his Champion ram lamb for 5000gns, the Reserve Champion of Champions and Champion shearling came from Russell and Mark Smyth selling for 2000gns.

Shearling Champion – M & R Smyth Reserve Champion- T Adams 3rd S Adams 4th S Adams 5th AB Carson

Single Shearling – 1st T Adams 2nd M & R Smyth  3rd T Adams 4th AB Carson 5th S Adams 6th B Curran

Group of 5 – 1st M & R Smyth 2nd S Adams 3rd AB Carson

Pair of Shearlings – 1st G & I Watson 2nd M & W Smyth 3rd AB Carson 4th T Adams 5th C Carmichael 6th G & W Watson

Champion Ram Lamb – G Breslin Reserve Champion – S & S Adams 3rd B Grant 4th B Grant 5th Conway Bros

Single Ram Lamb – 1st S & S Adams 2nd P McEvoy 3rd V Brennan 4th E Canny 5th V Brennan 6th T Adams & Sons

Group of 3 – 1st B Grant 2nd G Breslin 3rd P McEvoy 4th B & J Robinson 5th Conway Bros 6th T Adams & Sons


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