“I really saw the difference this year.”

“I really saw the difference this year.”

LambPlus breeder Brian Mathews talks about how LambPlus helped his sale season in 2020

Brian Mathews of Quarrymount Pedigrees is a name well recognised in the Irish Sheep industry, especially among Pedigree breeders as he has won numerous shows and has had multiple sale toppers over the past two decades. Brian breeds pedigree Beltex, Lleyn, Rouge de l’Ouest and Texel Sheep just outside Killeigh, Co Offaly. This year Brian had over 70 Pedigree rams on offer and is now down to his last ram. Brian has been a member of LambPlus since 2013.

We caught up with Brian this week to get his thoughts on how being a member of LambPlus has helped his ram sales this year.

What effect did being a member of LambPlus have on your Ram sales this year?

I have definitely seen an increase in the number of farmers who are asking me about EuroStars on my rams this year, especially on the maternal side. The farmers who are buying the Lleyn or Rouge rams to breed their replacement females are paying a lot of attention to the Replacement Stars. It used to be that if you had a good sheep, it made good money, and now it’s becoming more of a case that it has to be a good sheep with good figures to make good money. I also feel that I am getting a much better clearance rate at sales where I have sheep with good figures.

With the introduction of genomics and the across-breed evaluation this year, I also think the EuroStars are better reflecting my sheep, especially on the Terminal side. I was much happier this year with how the stars matched up with the rams, and I think the ratings have become much more reflective of the sheep on the ground.

With Covid this year there was more rams sold from home, with some new customers finding me on ramsearch.ie and the Sheep Ireland Directory. The first questions they would generally ask is if I had any Stars on the sheep and if so had I many five stars as they wanted to have a pick and not be confined to the one Five star ram that was left. At least 25% of my rams were sold like that this year I’d say. I have built up a high level of repeat customers over the years and I have no doubt that part of this is down to the fact that I am supplying good sheep that have the figures to back it up.

 

Its is evident that LambPlus is helping Brian and his customers, and it is very encouraging for our industry to see. With continued support and collaboration, we hope to see flocks like Brian’s to continue developing for the future demands of the entire industry.

Your participation is hugely important

Over 50% of commercial breeding rams used in Ireland are being sourced from outside pedigree sheep breed societies. This presents a major challenge to breed improvement as it is not possible to improve what we cannot measure. There is huge scope for pedigree breeders to increase sales and displace the current market for non-pedigree, non-performance recorded rams. Having EuroStar evaluations for your rams will be the avenue to achieve this as all key industry stakeholders are now fully committed to promoting the use of these rams among Irish commercial farmers. Awareness and uptake of the EuroStar indexes are rapidly increasing across Irish commercial sheep farmers so put yourself in the best possible position by signing up to LambPlus for 2021 (see www.sheep.ie for more). The deadline for established flocks for joining LambPlus this year is December 1st. Accommodations will be made for new flocks which may not be established until after this date.