A new breed of sheep to farmers in Ireland, called Tefrom sheep, will be on view for the first time next Tuesday 26 September at 2pm on the farm of John Keely, Dunderry, Co Meath (C15 VC2H).
The sheep are being marketed under the name of Elite Maternals with a website set up under the same name - elitematernals.ie.
Tefrom sheep are a composite breed developed in New Zealand in the late 1980s.
John states that the breed was developed to improve Romney sheep with Texel genetics targeted at enhancing meat yield and disease resistance, while East Friesland genetics were incorporated to improve milk and fertility.
John says that this breed improvement programme has delivered a high-performing dual-purpose sheep that meets demanding requirements of New Zealand sheep farmers in terms of farming in a low-input and non-subsidised environment.
Sheep on the farm are recorded through two breeding programmes, Sheep Ireland and Sheep Improvement Limited (SIL), which is New Zealand’s equivalent of Sheep Ireland.
Lambs are weighed and tagged at birth to facilitate individual performance recording, with key performance indicators such as ewe mothering ability, milk yield and lamb vigour recorded.
John says: “Tefrom lambs are lively and hardy and exceptionally quick to get up and suck. The ewes lamb quickly and easily, they are calm, but very attentive to the lambs and are very good at keeping the lambs close. The lambs are well presented and easily born and have a great instinct to find milk.”
Several other parameters are recorded at key stages from birth onwards, including growth rates, animal health and functionality.
“One big difference is that lambs don’t suffer the post-weaning check that we are used to in Irish sheep.
"In terms of disease, they have better worm and footrot resistance and in terms of management, they are easier to drive and herd, and flow better through handling systems.”
There is also a claim that “you will reduce your labour requirement throughout the year, but particularly at lambing - so you can keep more sheep or free up your labour for other aspects of farming. The ewes are a moderate-sized sheep with high productivity, efficiency and profitability.”
More information can be found at www.elitematernal.ie.