The Violet Hill Flock excels in terms of maternal breeding. The aim in recent years has been to improve terminal traits, while still maintaining maternal traits at a high level.
Lambs are selected for artificial rearing depending on their size and gender. Male lambs generally perform better and the preference where possible is to rear female lambs on ewes.
Paddocks with good shelter are prioritised for grazing ewes with young lambs. Three-lined shelter belts were sown in key areas in recent years and are working well in providing good shelter.
The emphais is on maximimising production from grass. Ewes and lambs are released to grass as soon as weather allows post lambing while a rotational grazing paddock system aids grass management and utilisation.
Mature ewes have a good frame and length. They were weighed as part of a Sheep Ireland flock visit in November 2019 when in mid-pregnancy. The average ewe mature weight was 95.92kg and this ranged from 77.2kg to 112.5kg.
All lactating ewes have access to high magnesium lick buckets which are placed beside water troughs and where sheep are likely to congregate.
Belclare lambs from the early lambing flock which have been weaned onto concentrates and hay.
John finds offering lambs fresh creep daily in a small trough helps lambs start eating concentrates faster than if offered in a creep feeder.
The two ewes in the forefront are examples of Belclare cross ewes and Suffolk cross progeny while the ewes sired by Suffolks rams in the background are a good example of the Belclare cross on these ewes.