Ballymena Lleyns hit 550gns

A surge in demand for Lleyn sheep in Eire brought sheep buyers north to Ballymena last weekend and created a strong demand for yearling ewes at the Lleyn Sheep Society’s sale where they averaged nearly £111 a head. But it was a shearling tup that topped the sale at 550gns – and he went south to Eire too.

Paying the top price was Robin Darker from Blessington, Co Wicklow who runs 100 breeding ewes in his Darker flock set-up five years ago.

“The Lleyn is well established in Northern Ireland and now things are really taking off in Eire. There could be more than 25 flocks in Eire by the end of the year compared with just six flocks last year,” commented Robin Darker.

His purchase, consigned by R E and I Edwards, Newtownards, Co Down, was by a tup bred in the Wraycastle flock of the Geldard family, Levens, Cumbria.

The Ballymena ringside was swelled with Eire-based breeders from Donegal, Wicklow, Kildare and Wexford with most looking for females.Shearling ewes reached £200 apiece three times for pens of five sheep. They included entries from Crosby Cleland’s flock at Saintfield, Ballynahinch taken by W A Taylor, Co Antrim; Messrs Edwards, Newtownards, taken by B Latimer, Co Tyrone and John Johnson, Antrim also taken by Mr Latimer.

Leading the ewe lambs at £94 apiece for a pen of five were sheep consigned by Hugh Warden, Newtownards and bought by Alan Conly, Ballybay, Monaghan. Earning the day’s best of £95 for older ewes were G and J Newell, Hillsborough, Co Down.

Averages: 30 older ewes £72.53; 382 yearling ewes £110.95; 457 ewe lambs £56.05 and24 rams £254.19. (J A McClelland and Sons).