Every lamb counts at Eglish

BLACKFACE ADAMS RI Farm
SHEEP TALK: Joe Adams, Rathkenny, with sponsors Alan Boyd, United Feeds, Seamus McCormick, Danske Bank and Mark Smyth secretary URBA. Other sponsors include Moore Animal Feeds and Fane Valley Stores.

THE Adams Family run a flock of 200 Perth type Blackface ewes near Rathkenny, Ballymena. The main aim of the flock is to produce breeding stock; however they also pride themselves on the quality of fat lambs produced within their Blackface flock.

Lambs produced are stylish, of good size, tight skins and thrive well with the ability to finish off grass at 21kg deadweight by September/October, most of these achieving R grades with U grades becoming more common over the past few years.

READY: Ram lambs from Joe Adams, Rathkenny, for the Blackface Show & Sale

Joe selects approximately 70 ewe lambs for the Sheddings sale in Ballymena every year, with this year’s lambs averaging £115/head. The repeat custom for these ewe lambs enforces how well they integrate into flocks and obviously do well for the buyers. The excellent mothering and foraging ability of the Blackface breed contributes to the perfect maternal line for the Eglish flock. Although the flock is kept pure at Eglish many of the females sold are used for crossing to a Blue-faced Leicester ram producing a highly sought after mule lamb.

With a scanning percentage of 175 per cent for this year, they continue to be on par with previous years. Joe emphasises that twin bearing ewes are only supplementary fed for two weeks prior to lambing and minimal feeding afterwards; this is a considerable saving in comparison to many pedigree and commercial flocks. With a remarkably low mortality rate of 1.47 per cent from lambing to weaning, this year reiterates the excellent mothering ability of these ewes.

The Eglish flock purchases stock rams at URBA Ballymena sale, Stirling and privately. The ideal ram for the flock is based on size, style, strength, fleece quality, correct on legs and feet with good fleshing ability. Although these traits are desirable the choice of male must still remain true to the breed characteristics of Perth type Blackface with distinct colouring and broad mouth end which is essential to be a good forager.

Rams are also sold by the flock each year at URBA sale in Ballymena Livestock Mart with a top price achieved by the flock of £9,000, however ram lambs in the 2017 sale provided the best average sale price ever seen by the flock in over 30 years. Ram lambs are regularly sold to not only neighbouring flocks but also further afield with many crossing the water to Scotland.

The Eglish flock is once again looking forward to exhibiting 10 ram lambs and 11 shearlings at the URBA show & sale on Monday, October 1, in Ballymena Livestock mart. Showing will commence at 7.30am, Lanark sale 10am and Perth sale noon.

Organisers would like to thank the sponsors for their continued support – Danske Bank, J Thompson & Sons Ltd, ASC Farm Services, Fane Valley Stores, Moores Animal Feeds and United Feeds.

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