Ahead of the 19th annual Mayo Mountain Blackface Sheep Breeders’ sale at Aurivo Ballinrobe Mart this Saturday, September 30th, 2023, we speak to the group’s Patrick Gaughan, who tells us about the breed’s suitability for his system and the premium prices that breeders can attain.
“I farm along with my father, Paddy Joe, in a small rural area, Cloontakilla in North-West Mayo.
We farm 300 pure Mayo Blackface ewes and a small suckler herd over a mix of mountain commonage and greener lowland in a tight-knit community where everyone helps and looks out for each other.
Our ewes are pure Mayo Mountain Blackface ewes. These ewes work well for us we find that breeding properly framed ewes with select strong rams produces a quality lamb ideal for selling replacements or finishing for the factory.
The mountain commonage consists of low rough heather grazing, rising up to a high stony mountain top, where the sheep have good scope and forage their way across the mountain throughout the year.
We have been part of the Mayo Blackface Sheep Breeders’ Group since its inception in 2004.
Prior to the Mayo Blackface group setting up special sales and linking up with Kildare Chilling, it was much more difficult to move lambs.
We would rely on repeat customers for ewe lamb sales and trying to get mountain lambs into the factory left us at the mercy of the processor.
Since the group was formed, the premium Mayo Blackface sales have provided for members have been fantastic.
Ewe lambs have sold to an excess of €160 at sales with group factory prices always running consistently higher than prices being quoted to individuals.
Our farm base allows us to keep twin-bearing sheep off the mountain to give them a good start while singles all return to the mountain a couple of weeks after lambing.
Weaning the lambs in mid-August ensures a nice flush of grass for lambs with replacement ewe lambs heading off again until September.
With the breeding sales for Mayo sheep in full swing now, we are getting our ewe lambs and hogget rams prepared for the Mayo Blackface Sheep Breeders; sale in Ballinrobe on Saturday, September 30th, 2023.
This sale gives customers from every corner of the country a chance to secure quality Blackface Mayo ewes and rams.
With the sale getting more popular year after year, it shows that the breed is going from strength to strength.
Many people are coming back to us year after year saying what great mothers the sheep make and how they can live in any conditions.
Moreover, they can be crossed with any breed to produce quality lowland replacements such as the popular Mule ewes, Cheviot cross ewes and the Hilltex breed.
Being so versatile and with the capacity to live in the harshest conditions, the future looks good for the Mayo Mountain sheep breed.
With the uncertainty in farming and the increasing numbers pursuing the organics route, it looks like the breed will continue to grow and spread throughout the country.
We are looking forward to meeting repeat and potential customers on Saturday and would encourage anyone thinking of getting into Mayo sheep to do so by buying in quality – start from a good foundation and build from there.
This group ensures that all stock are good quality and that aged ewes are all correct and right for breeding.
Our members always put forward quality stock for the sale. By ensuring top quality, the integrity of the sale is never in question.
- Location: Aurivo Ballinrobe Mart
- Date: Saturday, September 30th, 2023
- Ewes – 300;
- Hoggets – 900;
- Ewe lambs – 1,000.
Ringside bidding and online bidding and viewing via MartBids.
- Ram sale – Over 100 hogget and mature rams and 40 ram lambs. Many are eligible for SIS (Sheep Improvement Scheme).
A sales catalogue can be accessed via the group’s Facebook page via this link.
Mayo Blackface auction to support Mayo Roscommon Hospice
The Mayo Blackface Group are auctioning a hogget and a ewe lamb at the start of their annual sale this Saturday, September 30th, to lend support to the Mayo Roscommon Hospice.
The producer group recognises the great work the hospice does and how it helps numerous families around the region in times of stress and sorrow.
The group would like to thank Patrick Gaughan, Bangor Erris, and Noel Gallagher, Furmoyle, Louisburg for the kind donations of the stock.
All are welcome to the sale or go onto MartBids to support the initiative.
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