Sheep Ireland’s 10th Annual Multi-Breed Ram made the move to Kilkenny for the 2020 sale due to Covid-19 restrictions in Offaly making it impossible to hold the sale in its traditional location of Tullamore mart. The 2020 sale saw 328 rams catalogued with 9 different breeds on offer to buyers this year, with two sales rings in operation throughout the day.
This year’s sale had many new aspects, as previously mentioned the new location of Kilkenny mart was a change for all involved. Still, the excellent facilities, management and staff at Kilkenny Mart made the venue change very straight forward for all involved. Covid-19 restrictions, including a maximum of 50 people per sales ring resulted in a lively online aspect to the sale, facilitated by the Martbids App. The online aspect proved very popular with over 550 online viewers, who cast 15% of the bids and purchased 14% of the rams on the day. Despite the late venue change and the Covid-19 restrictions, an excellent sale clearance was recorded with 88% rams offered for sale, finding a new home. This clearance rate is an improvement on 2019 (86%) and 2018 (85%). The Sheep Ireland sale is designed for commercial sheep farmers interested in finding physically correct rams with the very best genetics available in Ireland. Buyers came from 24 counties to source rams this year, which is a fantastic indication of the widespread interest and awareness of performance recording and the benefits that can be gained by using 5 Star rams.
The average price achieved in the sale was €587, which is a marked increase from 2019(€548) and 2018 (€546). As in previous years, the sale offered rams for all budgets with rams selling from €250 to €1120. One of the aspects of the sale that gives buyers great confidence is that all rams go through a thorough physical inspection entering the mart on the day. Rams were rejected from the sale on issues relating to testicles, feet, teeth and other physical issues such as injuries/infections. The ram inspection at the point of entering the mart proved especially crucial in 2020 where many buyers purchased their ram online and were unable to inspect the animal themselves.
As this is an elite commercial farmers ram sale, the entry criteria have continued to increased year on year. For a breeder to enter rams into the sale their flock DQI has to be 70% or greater and their flock has to be genetically linked to other flocks. Flocks were required to have muscle and fat scanned a proportion of their lambs in 2019. As Muscle and fat scanning was not an option in 2020, due to Covid-19 restrictions, flock that did not scan in 2019 had the option of parent verifying lambs through genotyping. Over 25% of the rams entered in this year’s sales were also genotyped. All rams entering the sale were required to have 5 stars on either the Replacement or Terminal index and have at least 35% accuracy on the qualifying 5-star index.
The Belclare breed was the first through ring one with 30 rams up for grabs. There was an excellent clearance of 93% up from 74% in 2019 and 79% in 2018. The average price achieved this year was €487 (€490 in 2019, €440 in 2018). Belclare rams sold from €320 to €800.
The top price of €800 was bid for Lot 29, Colstown Fagan, bred by Kildare breeder Shane Carroll. This ram is 5 Star on both Replacement (Top 5%) and Terminal (Top 2%) and is in the top 1% for days to slaughter. This animal is parentage verified and had accuracies of 59 and 60% on the Replacement and Terminal Indexes, respectively.
Seven Lleyn rams were entered this year with all bar one going home with a new owner. The average price for a Lleyn ram was €460 with a range from €400 to €540. Top price went to Lot 42 from Simon Brown for a 2018 born ram originally bred by Brian Mathews from Co. Offaly. This ram was 5 Star for both Replacement (top 7%) and Terminal (top 3%) with accuracies of almost 50%. The high accuracy% here was helped in no small part by the fact there is CPT data feeding into the ancestry of this ram.
Another first for the sale was the inclusion of Border Leicester rams. Despite there only being two Border Leicester rams in the sale, they drew a lot of interest, their striking looks proving a big hit with the crowd in attendance. Both rams were from Leitrim Breeder Coote Geelan and sold for €480 and €400.
Rouge de L’Ouest
There were four Rouge rams for sale this year and all four found new homes on the day. The average price for a Rouge ram was €462 with a range from €410 to €500. Shay Kennedy (Waterford) and Oliver & Claire Keaskin (Cavan) had to share the claim of top price ram in the Rouge breed. Both rams were double 5 stars.
Ile de France
There were just two Ile de France rams on offer, both from Kilkenny breeder, William Hutchinson. Lot 54 was 5 star on the replacement index and sold for €440 while Lot 55 was 5 star on the Terminal index and sold for €550.
The Vendeen breed was had the most challenging day of all the breeds with a clearance rate of 50%. An average price of €465 was achieved which was an improvement on 2019 (€442) and 2018 (€425). Rams sold from €400 to €520, with top price going to Cheryl O’Brien for Lot 57. A double 5 star ram and in the top 7% on the Terminal index, this ram caught the eye of a number of buyers and rightly so as his sire was the All Ireland Shearling Champion in 2019.
The Charollais breed was last into ring 1, but most definitely not least, with 84 Charollais rams catalogued. The average price of €602 was a significant improvement on the average price of €526 in both 2019 and 2018. Prices ranged from €300 to €940. The top price was achieved by two rams, Lot 106 and Lot 108, both from Kilkenny breeder James Murphy. Lot 106 was a double 5 star ram on both the Replacement (Top 6%) and Terminal (Top 4%) indexes and was in the top 2% for days to slaughter at -19 days. Lot 108 was 5 star on the Terminal index with a high accuracy of 63% and was also parentage verified.
First into ring two was the Texels. The Texels had a substantial entry this year with 120 rams catalogued. The overall Texel clearance was 87%, slightly down on 2019 (92%) and 2018 (95%). Prices for Texel rams ranged between €250 and €1,120 with an average of €597. (€579 in 2019, €629 in 2018). The top price on the day was €1,120 but the €1,000 mark was passed three times in the Texel ring. Lot 261 from the Ryan family, Kildare claimed the top price on the day. This March 2019 born hogget ram was 5 star on the Terminal index and was in the top 2% for Days to Slaughter at -12.74. The ram was also muscle and fat scanned, genotyped and sire DNA verified. Other notable prices were paid for Lot 201 from Anne Murphy, Wexford who sold for €1,020. A double 5 star lamb in the top 3% on the Terminal Tndex and in the top 1% for Days to Slaughter. Lot 219, again from the Ryan family also sold for €1,020. Another March 2019 born ram with 5 stars on the Replacement (Top 5%) and Terminal (Top 3%) Indexes.
Next into ring 2 was the Suffolk breed where we saw an excellent clearance of 91% up from 87% in 2019 and 80% in 2018. Prices ranged from €300 to €1060, with an average price of €670, up from €597 in 2019 and €558 in 2018. The top price of €1,060 was achieved by Lot 280 from Jim & Frampton Jeffrey from Co. Cork, who is a full brother of the ram that claimed the top price for a Suffolk at last year’s sale. A 5 star ram on both the Replacement (Top 2%) and the Terminal (Top 2%) Indexes, he is also in the top 1% for Days to Slaughter and the top3% for Daughters Milk. Lot 321 from Arthur and Patrick O’Keeffe from Co. Cork also claimed a top price of €1,060. This ram was 5 star on both the Replacement and Terminal Indexes and was in the top 2% for Days to Slaughter. The O’Keeffe’s also has a second ram, Lot 322, a full brother of Lot 321 who sold for €1,000.
We would like to thank all who made this years sale another great success, including Sheep Ireland staff, our auctioneers George Candler and Gordon Cobbe, Kilkenny Mart manager Michael Lynch, mart staff, breeders but most importantly the ram purchasers. We wish all buyers the best of luck with their new rams. A post sale letter with advice on how to best manage rams after sale has been posted to all buyers and this will help to ensure all rams are 100% ready for the upcoming breeding season.