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Agriculture: Mule ewe is very close to the 'Money

By Richard Halleron

Published 08/06/2015

Corchennia and Colleen Dorman with their prizewinning cows at Ballymoney Show
Corchennia and Colleen Dorman with their prizewinning cows at Ballymoney Show

In total contrast to their equine namesakes, 'mule' ewes are among the most prolific of animals, having been at the very heart of Northern Ireland's lowland sheep industry for generations.

A cross between a Blackface female and a Bluefaced Leicester ram, a mule ewe has the ability to produce large numbers of high-quality lambs when put to a terminal breed ram.

Because they are crossbreds, mules very rarely get a look in at the top agricultural shows. However, that all changed on Saturday when Co Antrim flock owner Michelle Wright came out of the traps with her two shear ewe at Ballymoney Show.

After a long day's judging, the animal was just pipped at the post for the Inter Breed Championship title by an equally impressive Charollais ewe, exhibited by the McAllister family from Kells.

"It was a very close run thing," said inter breed judge Jimmy Sinclair from Scotland. "On any other day the mule would have gotten the nod. Mind you, McAllister's Charollais is a mighty ewe."

In the beef cattle rings, Lincoln Reds - from the Co Antrim herd of Tommy and Kate Madden - were catching the eye.

All of these native animals have a tremendous ability to produce high-quality beef," said Tommy

"And it is important that these bloodlines are maintained for the benefit of future generations."

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