Dorset Horn and Poll Dorset Sheep Breeder's Association

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Dorset Diamonds 2023

“Dorset’s blossom at annual spring sale in Ballymena”

The annual Dorset Diamonds sale was held on Saturday 25th of March 2023 in Ballymena Livestock Market. This sale marks the first of the year in Northern Ireland giving breeders first pick of the autumn born lambs in advance of the spring tupping season. As per previous years, again the sale was well supported by the large network of breeders who made up entries of just under one hundred, all of which were eligible for EU export.

M & C Maybin’s Supreme Champion, Galgorm Fergus, with from left, Michael Maybin, Adam Care, Judge, and handler, Alistair McNeill

Judge for the day was Mr Adam Care who runs the highly successful and renowned Burhos Flock in Cornwall. There was an excellent turnout of sheep on display in every class, the ram class alone boasting 29, giving both the large number of onlookers and judge plenty to decipher between. Coming out on top was lot 71 from Michael and Catherine Maybin with “Galgorm Fergus” who was awarded supreme champion. Sired by Drumlin Dazzler out of a homebred ewe, Galgorm Z2 this sweet lamb showed excellent style and correctness achieving the top price of the day of 5600gns to a trio of breeders. Raymond and Julie Hill, Olivertree Flock, James and Craig Robson, Ballyhamage Flock and Shane Wilson, Legaloy Flock were the successful purchasers.

From left, Raymond Hill, Christian Hill, Craig Robson, and James Robson with newly purchased Supreme Champion and top price, Galgorm Fergus

Reserve champion and best opposite sex to champion was awarded to lot 29 from Brian and Jack Moorhead, Briglands Flock for their first prize shearling ewe “Briglands E263”. Sired by Ballytaggart Dominator out of Briglands D115, this December born shearling showed superb body and presence, selling for 600gns to Cathy Holmes, Carnlea Flock.

The high quality of sheep on offer was reflected by demand from buyers from right across the UK and Europe, all seeking to avail of the exquisite sheep on offer. Lot 87, “Lisnafillan Frankel” from Laura Weir achieved the second highest price of the day at 4200gns. This eye-catching lamb sired by Lisnafillan Da Vincii and out of homebred ewe, Lisnafillan A10 was capitalised on by Bolton based breeder, Richard Fitton, Dynamite Flock.

Brian & Jack Moorhead’s, Briglands E263, Reserve Champion, and Best Opposite Sex to the Champion, with from left Adam Care, Judge, and Brian Moorhead

Laura Weir’s 2nd highest price ram lamb, Lisnafillan Frankel, with from left Laura Weir and Alister McNeill

Hot on its heels was lot 83 from Cameron Carson with horned ram lamb “Mainevalley Firetrap”. Sired by Springfield Corndog out of Mainevalley C75, this lamb displayed character in abundance deservingly setting a new record price for a horned ram at 4100gns, joining the Spaceys flock of Tony Spacey, Gloucester. The next top price of the day went to lot 73 from Richard Currie with “Hilltop Fivestar”. This Ballymaconnelly Eubank son out of Hilltop B62 showed bundles of carcass and power, selling to Tom Elliot, Northampton for 3000gns.

Cameron Carson’s new record price Horned ram, Maine Valley Firetrap

Richard Currie’s Hilltop Fivestar

Next in line was lot 56 from Ellen McClure with “Mountdale Fergie” a Downkillybegs Xception son out of Downkillybegs B6.

Exhibiting super character this lamb sold for 2200gns to fellow breeders Laura Weir and Amy McConnell to join the Lisnafillan and Beechmount flocks.

Ellen McClure with Mountdale Fergie

In close succession was lot 81 from Thomas Wright with “Ballytaggart F3042” achieving 2000gns for his smart Downkillybegs Daredevil son out of Balltaggart D47 finding his new home with William McCracken, Drumilly flock.

Samuel and Elaine Caldwell fetched a price of 1800gns for lot 46, “Ballymaconnelly Frank” out of Lisnafillan Dylan and Donard D13. This strong lamb exhibited great body and skin and was snapped up by Maud Walker, Dupin Flock, Newton Stewart. Michael and Catherine Maybin continued their successful day, selling lot 72 “Galgorm Freddo” who was twin brother to the champion for 1500gns to Elaine Clarke, Athboy. Amy McConnell achieved the top price shearling ram with May born “Beechmount Edwardo” this stylish ram sold for 1300gns to neighbouring breeder, Caroline Mckeown, Ashvale flock.

Other leading prices (male section) : E & H Kennedy (lot 98) 1200gns to W Mills, S & E Caldwell (lot 47) 1150gns to S Driver, W & K Carson (lot 36) 1100gns to G Rowney, J Lynd (lot 78) 1100gns to T Wright, E McClure (lot 55) 1050gns to M & A Care, B Lamb (lot 38) 1000gns to D Lewis, L Weir (lot 88) 900gns to A Graham, A Kennedy (lot 90) 900gns to G Millar.

Leading prices (female section): R Currie (lot 17) 750gns to M & A Care, L Weir (lot 1) 650gns to R & A Quinn, B & J Moorhead (lot 16) 620gns to A Kennedy, B & J Moorhead (lot 29) 600gns to C Holmes, G & M Cubitt (lot 11) 600gns to P & S Knowles, L Weir (lot 2) 550gns to R & A Quinn.

Sale averages

  • Ewe lamb: 491.65
  • Shearling ewe: 476.44
  • Rams: 1373.59 (£414.57 increase from 2022)

As the society reflects on a successful start to the sale year, it is evident that the breed is well and truly blossoming with demand for Dorset genetics constantly on the increase across the UK and Europe. The next sale will be the annual Mayfair, held in Exeter on 3rd of May 2023 which will see one of the largest entries in recent years with a vast number of exhibitors from both Northern Ireland and the mainland UK.