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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.