Charollais a favourite for big profits

LEFT: David Cromie farms along with his father Alan on their family farm at Millhaven, Rathfriland.

THE sheep industry in Northern Ireland is made up of a high percentage of part-time farmers, these farmers play a crucial role in the infrastructure of our industry. For breeders, it is necessary that they are aware of what these farmers are looking for and also importantly that they know what the Charollais breed to offer.

David Cromie is one such farmer, a guy with many talents, one wonders how he gets everything fitted in. A keen footballer David plays for his local club and is well known for his speed and skill on the pitch. A joiner by trade David is kept busy with his day job, there is also big demand for his custom-made sheep feeders which are very popular. Not content to rest on his laurels David keeps 140 Suffolk Cheviot ewes and 27 pure-bred Charollais ewes.

David farms along with his father Alan on their family farm at Millhaven, Rathfriland. The farm was originally a Flax Mill generating work for many people in the area, today David and his dad, who both have full-time jobs, as well as the sheep run 90 beef heifers which they buy in to finish.

Sheep have always featured on the farm with David’s grandfather Willie a keen shepherd and willing to try new ideas, purchasing a Charollais ram way back in the early days. Shortly after, a few pure-bred Charollais ewes were bought and the XEF prefix was formed.

Only a child at this stage, David has always had a keen interest in the sheep and as he grew up and took on more work on the farm he built up the sheep numbers with Charollais always a firm favourite.

Sheep are lambed in February and housed two weeks before lambing. Ewes and lambs usually turned out within 2-3 days of lambing, even this year with the wet weather he was able to get them out. He is lucky that his ground is dry and with plenty of shelter.

Lambs are mainly grass-fed with some creep introduced at around six weeks. He starts weighing them from 11-12 weeks and most are ready around this time unless they have had a setback. Lambs are sold direct to ABP where they kill out Es and Us so he gets a bonus.

Four years ago David decided to purchase a few Charollais pure-bred ewes, re-establishing their Charollais Flock, in 2017 venturing across to Worcester Premier to purchase a Charollais ram.

David feels that using a Charollais ram ticks all the right boxes. The Charollais breed have a lot to offer the sheep industry. He is well pleased with his Charollais X lambs. One of their biggest plusses for him is their liveweight gain. His Charollais lambs are always away first. The other lambs could be standing head and shoulders above the Charollais but the Charollais will weigh the heaviest.

The easy lambing ability of the Charollais results in less stress for the ewe ensures that both ewe and lambs keep going forward.

The Premier Sale of Charollais sheep will be held on Monday July 30 in Dungannon Market, Show 10.30am Sale 1.00pm. Details can be viewed online at


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