Watch: Welsh hat trick at sheep shearing championship
The Welsh team won the main contests in individual and team machine shearing as well as wool handling at the international day of the All-Ireland and All-Nations Sheep Shearing this Sunday.

The main trophy on this day of international competition at Tullynally Castle, Castlepollard Co Westmeath, was the George Graham perpetual trophy for the winner of the international open machine shearing championship.

Fresh from his win as all-Ireland champion on Saturday, Donegal man Ivan Scott was first to shear his 20 sheep under the cheers of the large crowd basking in the sunshine.

But judging on shearing quality placed Welshman Gareth Daniels ahead of Scott in the overall ranking.

The men in red also won the test match between Wales, Ireland and Scotland – a close affair with Ireland’s Scott and Scotland’s Hamish Mitchell again competing on speed in a breath-taking sprint run, while the Welsh team focused on quality to secure their overall win.

Judges noted the increasing presence of French shearers on the European competitive circuit, awarding France’s team the senior development champion title on the day.

In the wool handling test between Ireland and Wales, the Welsh pair remained calm and consistent throughout their run to bring another trophy across the Irish sea.

Ireland gave its best in the blade competition, with Peter Hearty winning the international test.

For full results, visit www.sheepshearing.ie on Monday.

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Clean livestock policy sheep issues resume
Farmers have had more lambs rejected for slaughter this week with most issues said to be related to sheep being presented wet for slaughter.

The change in weather is giving rise to an increase in reports of sheep being rejected by Department vets under their clean livestock policy.

A workable solution and clear guidelines on dealing with wet lambs is required. IFA sheep chair Sean Dennehy said: “It is time Minister Creed put his foot down with the factories and bluntly told them there can be no charges on farmers as a result of the Department clean sheep policy.”

From small beginnings to trading 20,000 lambs
The South Mayo Quality Producer Group is celebrating 30 years in existence with many notable events shaping the progressive organisation. Darren Carty reports.

The Department of Agriculture introduced legislation in 2016 to give legal recognition to producer organisations in the beef sector. There are numerous producer organisations in the sheep sector that developing new groups could learn from or gain insights into the working of groups. One such group is the South Mayo Quality Producer Group.

The group are celebrating 30 years in existence and according to secretary Assumpta Mullin the central theme of delivering the best possible service to its members still remains at the forefront of the objectives. The initial formation of the producer group stemmed from poor market prices and difficulties in getting lambs accepted for slaughter.

If we think about the formation of a group now and the technologies available to communicate it is a far cry from the communication channels present in 1988. Assumpta says, however, that this was not a barrier with the group formed in spring of 1988 and comprising 50 to 60 members. Group members John and Anne Flannelly co-ordinated booking of lambs by phone prior to transporting to the factory. The inaugural deal completed was with the halal meat factory in Ballyhaunis which is now operated by Dawn Meats, which the group continues to trade with.

Assumpta says that from the outset there was an appetite to widen the service offered to members outside of trading lambs. A ram premium scheme was initiated to encourage members to improve breeding within their flocks by the purchase of rams with good breeding credentials and the establishment of an annual ram show, an initiative that remains in place today.

Another constant of the group was Knowledge Transfer with the group running discussion-group format meetings before the current-day format while close links with local Teagasc advisers supported information events and study trips.

Assumpta says the group honed in on quality through the 1990s and in 2000 took the decision to implement its own quality assurance scheme whereby every lamb traded through the group was tagged. The foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 superseded the tagging project with tagging rolled out on a national basis.

Taking control of their actions

Current group chair Pat Waldron says the success of the group can be attributed to the group taking control of their own actions. “The fact that it’s an organisation run by farmers for farmers and not Department or industry-led and that committee members are active sheep farmers and are well-positioned to understand the daily workings of sheep farming is a huge help.” Pat says that working alongside like-minded people also helps and this was the foundation for the group’s amalgamation with the Mayo Mule and Greyface Group and the Mayo Mountain Blackface Sheep Breeders Society under the umbrella name of The Lake District Sheep Producers. The three groups have a weekly office catering for just under 600 members.

A charity element has also been a major focal point and remains as such with the group hosting a 30th celebratory dinner dance in association with the Mayo-Roscommon Hospice in the McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris on Saturday 17 November at 8pm. Guest speaker is Dr Paddy Wall and tickets are available by contacting the office on 094 95 21820.

New Teagasc sheep specialist for the west
Damian Costello is appointed to the position of sheep knowledge transfer specialist.

Athenry-based Damian Costello is Teagasc's new sheep knowledge transfer specialist to cover the western region, the agency announced this Tuesday.

Costello will work with advisers and farmers in the main sheep-producing counties in the country.

He holds a BAgrSc in animal and crop production from UCD, which he followed up with a master's degree.

Since joining Teagasc as a REPS adviser in counties Clare and Galway in 1996, he went on to work as a drystock business and technology adviser.

Best practice

"The farmers in the Teagasc BETTER Farm sheep programme have been early adopters, and the benefits of incorporating best practices on-farm, are evident for all to see," Costello said.

"This, coupled with the research results emerging from the Teagasc national sheep research centre in Athenry, will provide the know-how to drive the sheep business forward in Ireland.”

Teagasc's head of drystock knowledge transfer Pearse Kelly said Costello would contribute knowledge of environmental issues and involvement in international research networks to the role.

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