The Walsh family has been synonymous with butchery and pedigree Aubrac cattle for decades, with their relatively new flock of Blue Texel sheep adding another string to their bow.
The progressive farm is located in Rockhill, Ballintra, Co. Donegal and has been in the family for six generations. It is home to a herd of forty-five pedigree Aubrac cows along with pedigree and commercial sheep flocks.
They have been in the butchery trade for three generations with their first shop opening in the local village of Ballintra in 1962.
Now, they have a shop in the town of Donegal, which is renowned worldwide, having scooped accolades across the globe in the butchery industry.
The establishment of Limestone Blue Texels is their most recent venture, with the flock, founded in 2017, now consisting of thirty-five females between breeding ewes and ewe lambs.
“We were immediately drawn to the breed for their muscle, hardiness and compactness and from a butchery point of view, their carcase yield of which the breed has become renowned for.” Evan and Kyle Walsh explained to Catherina Cunnane, editor of That’s Farming.
Limestone Blue Texels was established with the purchase of foundation females from Philip Crowe of Powerful Blue Texels, secretary and founding member of Irish Blue Texel Sheep Society.
Six ewe lambs from Belgium import 609, laid the foundations, coupled with a further eight imports from renowned Belgian flocks and a further five purchased from Crowe.
They then bought a ram from Philip, also a son of renowned ram, 644.
The Donegal-based farmers then acquired Cooraclevin Blues 007 from Vicky Collinson of Cooraclevin Blue Texels.
Recently, they purchased three ewe lambs and a ram from Janet Carson of the Little Whiskers Blue Texel flock in Castlederg.
From farm to fork
“From our perspective, what we like most about Blue Texels are its desirable traits including its overall hardiness; ease of management; excellent temperament; docility and carcass yield.”
“We have had incredible feedback from customers about the eating qualities of the lambs that we source from our flock.”
“We have found that the Blue Texel produces a high-quality carcase which we finish to a carcase weight of between 24-26kg.”
“The ease of bringing the breed to this desirable carcase weight is a massive draw to us as they are very easy finished and have no waste on the carcase.”
Satisfied with the performance of the breed, the family are now incorporating Blue Texel genetics into their 350-strong commercial sheep flock.
“These ewes are dominating the pastures with five Blue Texel rams, giving us an excellent butcher’s lamb that is desirable for our excellent lamb trade.”
“We have also had some lambs go to the factory when we have surplus and they are achieving excellent grades of U and Es off cross-bred ewes, which makes this breed an excellent choice for any commercial flock.”
“We start our lambing season from the end of January/start of February and have been extremely satisfied with progeny, thus far, with a lively lamb being born which makes our job that bit easier.”
So far, they have retained most females for breeding while ram lambs are sold. Recently, they sold a ram to renowned breeder, Allen Shortt, with progeny off this ram available at the recent online Rising Stars Sale.
The family have recently ventured into exhibiting their flock at agricultural shows with their first outing being last year at the NSBC in Kilkenny where they took home the reserve champion female silverware across the Blue Texel breed.
Her son will go under the hammer at the upcoming Blue Texel sale in Carrick-on-Shannon this Saturday, August 29th.
Looking ahead, they plan to grow their thriving Blue Texel flock further, increasing to fifty high-quality ewes that are “suitable for the Donegal terrain and be able to provide excellent breeding rams and females for sale to other breeders in Ireland and afar”.
“We also wish to be highly involved in the bright future that this breed has in Ireland. We have been associated with the Blue Texel Society for the past three years and we are excited to be involved.”
“All breeders are looking at the growth of the breed and future-proofing the breed for the Irish market.”
“More sheep breeders should consider the breed because of its ease of lambing; carcass grade and quality and ease of finishing.”
“We see the breed becoming a lot more popular in the coming years in Ireland for several reasons including a high % kill-out, even at 38-40 kg on little or no concentrates with a finished carcase weight of between 22-23kg, top-quality butcher and factory lambs and excellent carcase grades.” they concluded.
At the Blue Texel Sale in Carrick-on-Shannon, they have a number of top-quality stock from their Limestone Blue Texel Flock for sale including:
- 6 females;
- 2 Hoggets;
- 2 ram lambs.
Over 70 entries are on offer with online bidding available here – viewing from 11:30am-1:00pm, followed by the sale at 1pm.
For more information about EWS Butchers click here or for more information about the Irish Blue Texel Sheep Society, click here.
Images supplied by the Walsh family