THE Horner family has been farming in Comber, County Down, for several generations. They keep 250 ewes, rear beef cattle and grow cereals, potatoes and a variety of vegetables. Garth Horner also runs a busy farm shop supplying the local area with fresh produce.
Garth remarks: “Over the years we have kept pedigree Border Leicester, Bluefaced Leicester and Charollais sheep. We now concentrate on producing fat lambs. My flock of ewes mainly consist of Mules along with a few Texel and Suffolk crosses.
“We use Hampshire, Rouge and Texel rams. A few years back I decided to try a Hamp out of curiosity after a neighbour recommended them. I have been using him for three seasons now. He is an exceptional worker. He tips all round him. Each year I have to remove him from the field to ensure some of my other rams get a chance to tip a few ewes.
“I have found the Hampshire to be easy lambing, the lambs are really robust compared to other breeds and they thrive on grass. We rotate the cereals, potatoes and grazing, which really helps reduce the worm burden on the pasture.
“This year I have only had to worm the lambs once for nematodirus which helps reduce costs and it lowers the risk of intestinal worms developing resistance to dosing.”
The Horners sell their lambs through Linden Foods with the majority grading E to R. Garth plans to invest in a few New Zealand Romney ewes to see if they can improve the longevity of the flock.
The farm shop has had a very busy spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. People can shop online and the Horners provide a home delivery service.
Garth commented: “With the increase in trade in the farm shop this spring I have had less time to spend on the sheep. I find the Hampshire lambs tough and they could nearly look after themselves.”
The Hampshire Down Premier sale will take place at Ballymena Livestock Market on Monday, July 27, at 7pm. Lots can be viewed from 4pm to 6pm. All buyers must register with Ballymena Livestock Market prior to the sale.