A 2014-born Belclare ewe, which has a strong association with multiple births, has had quintuplet lambs at Teagasc Mellows Campus, Athenry, this year.
The pedigree ewe delivered quintuplet lambs in 2016 – her first lamb crop, a set of triplets in 2017, sextuplets in 2018 and 2019 and twins in 2020.
In a brief statement, Norina Coppinger, campus administrator at Teagasc Mellows Campus Athenry, said,
“We are pleased to announce the birth of 5 healthy lambs to our wonderful Belclare mammy. She has had 27 lambs over 6 years. That is some record!”
Henry Walsh, technician, explained that two of the pedigree lambs will stay with their dam, while the college staff will move the other three purebreds onto an artificial rearing system.
“There are 75 purebred Belclare ewes in the Athenry flock. This ewe was the first and only Belclare ewe ever to have had six lambs at Athenry.”
“The Belclare ewe group is the last group to lamb on the farm, which also has Suffolk, Texel, New Zealand Suffolk, and New Zealand Texel ewes.”
According to the Belclare Sheep Society, the first Belclare sheep were called Belclare improvers and had “significant amounts” of Finnish Landrace blood.
To correct conformation and add substance, farmers crossed Belclares with Texel rams to proud what today’s Belclare sheep have originated from.
An Forus Taluntais Research Centre (now known as Teagasc) developed the breed. Dr JP Hanrahan, a scientist, is credited for his “vision, dedication and foresight”.
In its 2019 yearbook publication, a society spokesperson said:
“The Belclare sheep that are found on farms today are very different to their ancestors that started the breed almost 40 years ago.”
According to the society, the breed, as a maternal sire, will add prolifically into a flock, with daughters producing 2+ lambs/ewe.
The breed is “able to sire rapidly growing fleshy lambs, which farmers have found are capable of being finished off grass just as quickly as terminal breeds”.