Robert Workman is a well-respected beef and sheep farmer who runs a mixed lowland and hill farm in Kilwaughter, County Antrim.
The Rorysglen farm is noted for producing consistent quality stock, with the majority sold through their local livestock mart in Ballymena.
For as long as Robert can remember, Suffolk rams have played a significant role within the large sheep flock, a tradition that he envisages will continue in the years to come.
“Suffolk rams suit our breeding policy here, whether it be for use on Suffolk x Cheviot ewes or our mules.”
“My father always used Suffolk rams, and we continue to do so, although we are now looking for a more modern style ram in our selection.”
“Our lambs are sold live through the ring as stores or destined for breeding, with a number of ewe lambs kept for replacements within our own flock.”
In recent years, when sourcing new stock rams, the Workman team have headed to the Jalex Genes Sale held on-farm each year by Randalstown-based producer James Alexander.
Two rams have been purchased at these sales with both still working and breeding well.
Robert explains: “James Alexander has produced a more modern, flashy type ram that we feel matches well with our ewes.”
“We were so impressed with the first Jalex ram, that we returned the next year and bought another ram to add to our flock.”
“We also found, as they were not pushed hard before we bought them, that they were able to work well and have longevity which is key for us.”
“Their lambs have been of consistent quality, and easily reach half weights of 23 to 24 kilos on a grass-fed system to suit our live trade.”
The Workmans lamb mostly outdoors from the middle of March onwards and on foot of weather conditions, it is essential that the ewes lamb down well and lambs get up on their feet and suck straight away.
A number of the ewes were sourced at Jalex over the years, in addition to homebred stock. First-time lambers are producing lambing percentages of 208%.
So, what is next on the Workman farm? Robert says he will continue with his mix of Mule, Wicklow Cheviot and Suffolk Cheviot ewes which suit his mix of hill and lowland grazing.
Suffolk rams will feature as the predominant sire of choice with an emphasis on selecting rams to suit their breeding regime.
The Jalex Genes Ram Sale takes place on Friday evening, August 18th, at James Alexander’s farm, Gloverstown Road, Randalstown.
Almost 100 rams are set to go under the hammer with ringside and online bidding via MartEye.
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