The second of three flocks to be nominated for the highest achieving LambPlus flock in 2020 is Carrowbaun Charollais owned by David O’Gorman. The flock was established by David in 2005 and is based in Milltown, just outside Tuam, Co. Galway. The flock has been an active member of LambPlus since establishment in 2010 and David’s commitment to the programme is highlighted with his excellent DQI of 99.8%. A DQI of that standard shows a huge level of commitment to data recording and David stated that the use of the LambPlus App in 2020 helped to make data recording easier. Up to 2020 David was doing all his data recording on paper and the data was uploaded every evening which he said increased the accuracy of birth dates, birth weights and parentage as all the information was fresh in his head when uploading. Since moving to the App the data is uploaded directly to the Sheep Ireland data base which reduced the workload at lambing.
Traditionally David’s breeding focus was to breed a true to type Charollais with good carcass traits and while these traits are still front and center, in recent years he has placed more emphasis on the animal’s €uro-stars with the focus now being to produce a balanced ram that ticks all the boxes.
When selecting animals as replacements or when purchasing a new stock ram David focuses on the physical traits first and the animals needs to be correct in every way. The second port of call is the Replacement and Terminal index and he will only accept 4 and 5 star animals. Despite the physical traits getting preference David highlighted that both the physical traits and €uro-Star ratings go hand in hand, stating that a poor sheep with good stars won’t make the cut. David’s consistency in selecting the top genetics available to him has resulted in his 2020 lamb crop having an average €uro-Star value of €2.19 on the Replacement index and an average €uro-Star value of €1.90 on the Terminal index with an average index accuracy of 44%. This high index accuracy is helped by the inclusion of David’s stock ram, Blakeney Faugheen (D5618003) in the CPT, which linked David’s flock to many other flocks and increased the number of progeny evaluated for this sire. A Faugheen son (F919030), Top 3% Replacement & Top 3% Terminal, sold for the second highest price at the I.C.S.S Roscommon sale 2020. This is the type of sheep that David strives to breed. Two factors that have also helped to build the high index accuracies in the flock are firstly David started genotyping animals in 2017 and secondly, the flock participates in the Muscle and Back fat scanning annually.
David takes pride in the level of data recorded on his flock with lamb being weighed as many as 6 or 7 times across the summer months. The frequent weighing ensures each lamb has an accurate 40, 100 and 150 day weight as well as allowing David to monitor the performance of each lamb and to address any issues he finds. As with all farms there is always room for improvement and David said his next area to focus on is flock health recording. David feels that by recording all cases of lameness, mastitis, prolapse and the cause of any deaths will allow him to breed more resilient sheep and give his customers more confidence in the rams they are buying.
Many sires have contributed to the success of the Carrowbaun flock with Bawnard Bond (D3214120), purchased for €2,000, standing out as the sire of a large proportion of the breeding ewes in the flock. This ram is 5 star on the Termial index with an impressive €uro-Star value of €2.00. He has proven to be a very successful purchase for David as he has sired 112 lambs over four lambing seasons from 2016 to 2020. Another ram that has proven very successful for David is a French ram F17 Bonnot (IE1852928400543) who really improved the Replacement traits if the ewe flock. F17 Bonnot is a 5 Star Replacement ram with a €uro-star value of €2.68 and he is in the top 2% of the breed for number of lambs born, the top 10% for lamb survival and the top 17% for daughter’s milk. In 2014 David purchased a senior stock ram Lowerye Lord (ZVY1100861) who was the top index Charollais in the UK for both 2011 & 2012. This ram is also 5 Star Replacement with €uro-star value of €3.43. The combination of the above rams has resulted in a quality group of breeding females in the flock. The Carrowbaun flock has also produced some top-quality rams such as Carrowbaun Barry (Top 1% Replacement, Top 1% Terminal), Carrowbaun Siegemaster (Top 1% for Replacement) and Carrowbaun Jadanli (Top 2% Replacement) with the latter pair having gone on to breed champions at I.C.S.S sales, highlighting the quality of animals David is producing.
The overall winner of the highest achieving LambPlus flock will be announced in late February and will receive a cash prize of €1,000, an engraved trophy and bragging rights for the year ahead. The two other finalists will receive a cash prize of €500 and a framed award. The LambPlus awards are kindly sponsored by FBD.