Clement Lynch Park, Co Derry

Breeding got under way for Clement’s crossbred flock on Monday 1 November, with 366 crossbred ewes running with nine rams. Most of the crossbred ewes are bred in groups of 40 to 50 females per ram.

There are two smaller groups of crossbred ewes running with two Suffolk ram lambs that were purchased earlier this year.

Clement is planning to run the rams with the crossbred ewes for another week, giving all breeding females two cycles. Rams are raddled and early signs are that breeding activity has been high.

Hill flock

In addition to the crossbred flock, 162 Scottish Blackface ewes were turned out to the rams on Monday 15 November.

All ewes were sorted for breeding based on age. The younger, fitter ewes are running with a Swaledale ram.

The Swaledale has been introduced to bring hybrid vigour back into hill ewes and reduce the barren rates. The older ewes are running with Blueface Leicester rams.

Ewes are split in three groups of 50, with the remaining animals being served to a six-year-old Lanark ram retained as a backup sire. Rams will run with ewes for four weeks.

Ewe lambs

There were also 60 ewe lambs turned out to two Charollais rams on Monday 15 November. These animals are replacements for the crossbred flock.

Of the two Charollais rams, one animal is a mature sire that has been previously used in the flock. The second animal is a ram lamb in his first breeding season.


All ewes were given a fluke treatment prior to breeding. Half of the ewes were given a mineral bolus, with the other 50% getting a mineral drench.

Clement has recorded which ewes received which treatment and will compare the results after scanning time.

There are 230 crossbred ewes on winter grazing, with the remaining animals being bred on own land.

The ewes grazing on Clement’s land will be housed prior to Christmas to save grass, while ewes on winter grazing will be housed on 1 February.

Trevor Nixon Bellanaleck, Co Fermanagh

Ewes are now in their third week of breeding on Trevor’s farm. In total, 101 ewes were turned out to the rams on Saturday 6 November.

Ewes have been divided into breeding groups based on breed type. There are 71 Belclare-cross ewes running with two Suffolk rams.

The remaining 30 mature ewes are Suffolk-cross and these animals have been turned out to a Texel ram.

There is also a group of 40 ewe lambs being bred as flock replacements. These animals are being bred to a Beltex ram.

Raddling rams

All rams are raddled to show breeding activity.

For Trevor, the raddle is more of a reassurance that rams are working, as ewes are not housed based on raddle colours.

Most years, Trevor finds that all ewes will be mated and settled in-lamb inside the first 14 to 18 days of breeding. Very few ewes tend to miss the first service.

Breeding period

With plenty of early breeding activity this autumn, Trevor is planning to leave the rams in with mature ewes so that all ewes get at least two cycles to settle in-lamb. Rams will be removed from ewes to stop lambing running too late.

For the ewe lambs, the rams will be allowed to run for an extra cycle to give these animals every opportunity to go in-lamb.


All ewes have been moved to winter grazing and will remain there until January. Scanning time will be scheduled for when ewes come home from winter grazing.

After scanning, ewes will most likely be turned back out to grass. The farm is carrying good covers into the winter period. Weather depending, housing will be delayed until one month prior to the start of lambing.

James McCay Drumquin, Co Tyrone

The breeding season is at an advanced stage on James’s farm, with things starting to wind down. Ewes are split into an upland crossbred flock and a pure hill flock of Scottish Blackface ewes.

This autumn, James turned 150 crossbred ewes out to five rams on Monday 18 October. Ram breeds include Texel, Beltex and Bluefaced Leicester.

There are 100 crossbred ewes being mated on improved hill ground, with the remaining 50 animals currently on winter grazing. There is little sign of any breeding activity at present in the crossbred flock, but rams are likely to stay with ewes until animals are gathered for the next routine management task.

Hill ewes

In the hill flock, James turned 150 ewes out to the rams on 1 November. Hill ewes have been split for breeding, with 100 animals being mated pure to Blackface rams.

The remaining 50 hill ewes are mated to two Texel rams. The hill ewes have also been brought down to improved grazing during the breeding period.

Rams will stay with the ewes for at least another two weeks. So far, breeding activity has been good in the hill flock.


The crossbred and hill ewes have been treated twice for fluke this autumn. The first treatment was carried out in early October, with a follow-up dose given on 9 November.

Ewes were also given a mineral bolus around six weeks before going to the ram. James has opted to use a mineral bolus over the past five years.

However, a mineral drench was given as a top-up around 10 days before going to the ram. In the past, crossbred ewes have generally scanned well, but the number of twins was lower than James would like. To try to increase the number of twins born, James has opted to give the extra mineral drench.

The farm is carrying good covers of grass into the winter. The plan is to keep ewes grazing for as long as possible, weather depending. The target would be to graze ewes until the end of this year.

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