Tullamore Mart in Co Offaly hosted its inaugural rare and minority breed sale on Saturday last.

The sale was organised by sheep breeder Jim Croke under the banner of Croke Promotions and consisted primarily of female sheep.

There were 91 sheep entered across 12 breeds, with two breeds curtailed from attending due to COVID-19 concerns.

This left 71 sheep passing through the ring, with 59 of these finding new homes or a clearance rate of 83%.

From left to right - homebred Spotted Dutch ewe lamb sold for €2,000, imported ewe lamb sold for €2,100 and homebred ewe lamb sold for €1,600.

The top prices on the day were paid for two breeds which are relatively new to the country and as such are generating excitement among prospective bidders. The first of these is the Badger Face Texel, which was also first in the ring. The breed originates in The Netherlands and is also known as Dassenkops.

From left to right - Spotted Dutch imported ewe lamb selling for €2,100 and ewe hoggets carrying a single lamb, and two with twin lambs and selling for €2,100, €2,900 and €2,450 respectively.

Prices topped at €3,200 for a hogget carrying twin lambs and due in late January. Two 2019-born ewes scanned carrying single lambs sold for €2,200 and €2,600, while two older ewes born in 2015 and 2016 and carrying a single and twin lambs sold for €1,800 and €1,600 respectively.

This batch of four Clun Forest ewe lambs were batched together and sold for €200 each.

As the name indicates, Dutch Spotted sheep originate in the Netherlands, with the breed comprising the largest entry. Hogget ewes averaged €2,500 and a top of €3,000, while ewe lambs recorded an average price of €1,814 and topped out at €2,300.

These three Herdwick ewe lambs were sold together for €290 each.

Blue Texel sheep, which were also first recorded in the Netherlands, sold in a price range from €420 to €900 for ewe lambs and set an average price according to Jim of €617 per head.

Native Ireland Galway sheep breed recorded a price range of €260 to €290 for ewe lambs, while a ram lamb sold for €150.

These Jacob ewe lambs sold from €180 to €360 with the highest price for the sheep in the foreground.

Jim says there was firm demand for the entry of Herdwicks – the hardy hill breed of sheep which can trace their origins back to the Lake District in the UK. Ewe lambs sold from €270 to €290. Meanwhile, four Clun Forest ewe lambs, which also originate in the UK, sold for €200 each.

The pair of Blue Texel ewe lambs on the outside left and right sold for €600 each while the pair in the centre sold for €520 each.

A batch of five Jacob ewe lambs sold steadily from €180 to €360 (average €260), while another Dutch breed, Zwartbles, had three ewe lambs entered, selling for €420, €470 and €520 respectively.

An entry of 10 Kerry Hill ewe lambs averaged €195 and a top of €210, with a few of these lots also going unsold.

Shropshire in lamb ewes which were bid to €190 but unsold on the day.

The final breed entered was Shropshire and these sheep met the most challenging trade with prices for those that sold in the region of €140/head.

Other lots

Two hogget ewes carrying a single lamb sold for €850 and €800 each with a ewe lamb selling for €540.

From left to right these Zwartble ewe lambs sold for €520, €470 and €420.

These three Galway ewe lambs were offered in one group and sold for €290 each.

These Kerry Hill ewe lambs sold for €210 each.

These two Spotted Dutch ewe lambs sold for €2,300 and €1,800.

The pair of Blue Texel ewe lambs on the right sold for €440 with the pair of Blue Texel ewe lambs on the left selling for €420.