The inaugural Spring Stars sale of pedigree Poll Dorset and Dorset Horn sheep at Carlisle on Monday – in preparation of the breeds' mid-April tupping season – proved successful with top prices of 2200gns and 1500gns for females and males respectively.

In previous years, the breeds' premier show and sale, known as the May Fair, was not held until the first week of May, which is a month too late for breeders to get their tups onto farm and prepared for the Dorset tupping season. As a result, top end rams have been traded privately – from farm to farm as opposed to on the open market.

“Members were keen to offer wider trading opportunities and as such, we decided to hold a standalone show and sale at Carlisle," said Will Carson, Northern Ireland Club secretary.

Currently, in the region of 25% of pedigree Dorset sheep breeders choose to lamb in the autumn, which is historically the traditional lambing time for Dorsets. However, as Dorsets can lamb at any time of the year, some people purchase their tups to keep them over the summer season.

Northern Ireland breeders led the way here, with the top two sellers at 2200gns and 2000gns both consigned by Ben Lamb who owns the Richhill flock from Sleepy Valley, Richhill, Co Armagh. His sale leader, a gimmer by Sandelford Usain out of a home-bred ewe by Olivertree Nick Nak, stood third in her class at the pre-sale show and sold back across the Irish Sea, to Andrew and Caroline Kennedy, buying for their Mainview flock from Co Antrim.

Also heading on the same boat load at 2000gns but with Messrs Hanna, Ballyclare, Co Antrim, was Mr Lamb's female champion and reserve overall. Another gimmer, she is by Sandelford Thunder and out of a home-bred ewe by Downkillybegs Pegasus.

The second prize gimmer sold next at 900gns to Messrs Fitton, Kearsley, Bolton, Lancs. This was a Deverill Xavi daughter from W and K Carson's Downkillybegs flock from Whitesides Road, Ballymena, Co Antrim. The dam, a home-bred ewe by Olivertree Torpedo is a twin sister to Downkillybegs Xander sold in 2016.

The same buyers also bought the lead priced ewe lamb, Olivertree Babs, at 700gns from Raymond Hill, Old Manse, Kilbride Road, Doagh, Ballyclare. A red rosette holder at the pre-sale show, she is by Hilltop Alabama and bred from a home-bred ewe with a Polgreen sire.

Lanarkshire breeder, Alistair Morton, Stobilee Farm, Cleghorn, bought the lead priced male at 1500gns. This was Ballytaggart Buster, a tup lamb by Bannside Xavi, out of a home-bred ewe by Richhill Samson, from Thomas Wright's Ballytaggart flock from Ballymoney, Co Antrim.

The champion male and supreme overall made 1200gns selling to Welsh breeder, D Lewis, Llangwathen, Narberth, Pembrokeshire. This was Ballyhamage Braveheart, a tup lamb by the 2500gns Pembroke Zest is Best, from James and Craig Robson, Burn Road, Doagh, Ballyclare. The dam, a home-bred ewe, is by Sherborne Striker.

In another all Ireland transaction, Ben Lamb was back in business amongst the males, selling Richhill Bionic, a tup lamb by Olivertree Zlatan, for 900gns to Messrs Knox, Amdy, Ballymoney.


Tup lambs – 800gns – S Driver's Sandy Lane Action Man, by Staverton Xanadu, to Messrs Birch, Baslow, Bakewell, Derbyshire; B Lamb's Richhill Barney, by Olivertree Zlatan, to Messrs Hall, Pomeroy, Co Tyrone. 750gns – S Mullan's Islaharnan Bruno, by Bannside X51, to Messrs Rankine, Lochore, Lochgelly, Fife and Messrs Royan, Putton Mill, Duns.

Auctioneers: Harrison and Hetherington.