CASTLEWELLAN Blackface Sheep Breeders held its 40th annual sale of Lanark type Blackface sheep in Hilltown on Wednesday, September 21, with an entry of 1,500 quality females – and what a sale it turned out to be.
As breeding sale season approa-ches each and every year there is always the usual air of uncertainty in the lead up and particularly so this year with all the issues engendered in the wider society by the Covid-19 pandemic, which is still very much with us though hopefully in a low key form.
However, this soon disappeared as the first of the female stock entered the sale ring with a high percentage clearance of stock and averages up on last year’s high prices in several classes. The prices achieved again reinforced the ever increasing de-mand for quality Blackface breeding stock, which remains the backbone of the whole sheep industry.
The entry of 260 quality Mule ewe lambs met with an excellent trade resulting in a complete clearance with a top price of £178 per head for Nigel Walsh’s prize winning pen, followed by his second pen at £160 and O & F McKenny’s first pen at £150, with others at £145, £142 (two lots), £138 (two lots), £134 (two lots), £130 (two lots), £126 (two lots), £120 (two lots), £118 and £116 giving an average of £126, an increase of £7 on last year.
Blackface shearling ewes met with an excellent trade to a top of £335 for S & J Fegan’s first pen followed by Danny Harrison’s first pen at £320 and S&J Fegan’s second pen at £280 with lots at £225, £210, £205, £200 (two lots), £196, £194, £175, £170 and £160 (two lots). The 292 shearling ewes sold gave an average of £164, back £7 on last year’s average.
The large entry of ewe lambs also sold tremendously well to a top of £325 per head for Danny Harrison’s first pen followed by Branagan Bros first pen at £196, closely followed by Terry Rooney’s first pen at £192 with lots at £152 (two lots), £146, £144, £142 (two lots), £140 (two lots), £136, £134 (two lots), £132, £126 (two lots), £124 (two lots), £122 (two lots) and £120. The 280 ewe lambs sold averaging £126, up £11.32 on last year’s average.
Aged ewes again engendered a lot of interest throughout with a top price of £140 going to Stephen Maginn’s prize winning pen followed by Aidan McCullough’s first pen at £138 and Patrick Murray’s first pen at £122 with other lots at £110, £100 (four lots), £98, £94 (three lots), £92, £90 (four lots) and £86 (three lots). The 310 aged ewes sold averaging £90, showing a decrease of £20 on last year though similar to 2020 prices.
This year’s sale again had a class for broken mouthed ewes and the trade was brisk with a top price of £68 per head for ewes from S & J Fegan followed closely by lots at £66, £62 (two lots), £58 and £56 (two lots), with the 112 ewes averaging £56, a decrease of £17 on last year’s average.
The sale of breeding females was again very encouraging, reflecting both the excellent quality of the stock and the key role these original and best of all easycare sheep have in farming throughout the country.
Castlewellan Blackface Sheep Br-eeders would like to thank all the buyers together with sponsors for the event – Clanrye Veterinary Clinic, Tullyherron Farm Feeds Ltd and Joseph Walls Ltd.
A special word of thanks is also due to James McCurdy who judged the stock on show, the auctioneer Raymond O’Kane and to the staff at Hilltown Saleyard for their continuing help and support in
the usual efficient running of this event.
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