The Galway Sheep Breeders’ Association will host its 101st show and sale in Athenry Mart on Friday, September 22nd and, in a break with a century of tradition, this is its first evening sale.
All sheep must be penned by 3 pm, with judging starting at 4 pm, followed by the sale at 6 pm. (sharp).
That’s Farming will update this article to include entry numbers once confirmed to this publication by the society.
All sheep entered must be registered with Sheep Ireland in accordance with the association’s rules.
Ireland’s only native sheep breed
A spokesperson for the association told www.thatsfarming.com:
“This is a significant new departure for the association, but the Galways are Ireland’s only native sheep breed and have survived the many changes in sheep farming practices in this country over the past century.”
“The breed can trace its origins back to the Age of Improvement in Irish Agriculture (circa 1750 -1815) when Leicester-type rams were introduced to enhance the native sheep.”
“There will be two classes in the sale for males – hogget rams and ram lambs and the association is also considering a novice class for ram lambs if there is sufficient demand.”
All rams will be genotyped, and parentage must be verified.
There will be three female classes – breeding ewes, ewe hoggets and ewe lambs.
In the female section, a breeder must present five sheep to be considered for the show but may offer a lesser number for sale, the spokesperson noted.
There are also individual sales of ewe hoggets and ewe lambs – the individual lots will facilitate new breeders and small flocks in particular.
This year, the wool classes have a particular significance due to the renewed interest in Galway wool.
The spokesperson continued: “The breeders are hoping to meet old and new friends from all parts of the country on the evening, as this sale is an integral and landmark occasion in Ireland’s sheep breeding year for over a century now.”
“The association is conscious of the fact that many buyers and sellers travel long journeys to the sale.”
“While the association was formed in 1922, some of the traditional flocks can trace their origins and bloodlines back to pre-famine times.”
In recent years, the breed has enjoyed a “remarkable resurgence” as many flock owners are beginning to re-discover the many traits of the Galway Breed including docility, strength, prolificacy, and immunity from certain diseases.
The formation of the Galway Wool Co-op has given huge momentum to the breed as Galway Wool has now secured a niche market and has been recognised as the premium Irish heritage product that it is, while the new ACRES scheme also has helped to attract new breeders, the association notes.
The female sheep will be judged in the pens and males will be shown in the traditional manner. The sale will be streamed in conjunction with the Mart and potential buyers will have the option of bidding online using Mart Eye.
As this event is not being held in conjunction with the general weekly mart sale, no sheep can be sold within the precincts of the mart except those listed in the catalogue and put through the ring, the spokesperson noted.
The spokesperson went on to say that last year’s sale was “the most successful one” in the past 50 years and this year has already seen an unprecedented number of enquiries from around the country.
There is a strong entry of female sheep and many of the rams entered are eligible for the SIS scheme.
As one of three of Ireland’s only native breeds, the sheep are eligible for payments under ACRES, subject to certain conditions.
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