With only scrapie monitored sheep able to be exported to Northern Ireland, the Ulster Ram Breeders’ Association show and sale of Blackface rams at Ballymena on Monday, met a flying trade with increased numbers sold and averages on a par or up on the year.

In previous years, large numbers of Blackface females and breeding tups were sold at various sales from Scotland and privately to the province, but with the Northern Ireland protocol, introduced on January 1, 2021 as a result of Brexit, such traffic is only permitted one way – across the Irish Sea to the mainland.

Read more: NI sheep farmers at ‘wits’ end’ over protocol

Hence, this was the main sale in Northern Ireland where breeders could purchase stock rams, which in turn significantly bolstered the overall trade.

However, the top two sellers – at 26,000gns and 24,000gns – both sold to Scottish breeders.

Star attraction was a south-type ram lamb sold late in the day from Veronica and Patrick Fullerton’s flock from Draperstown. He secured the lead bid from Archie and John MacGregor, Allanfauld, Kilsyth, who were buying in partnership with Iain and David Mcarthur, Arnicle, Campbeltown.

An ET bred from a flush from a £30,000 Loughash-sired ewe that goes back to the 2017 inter-breed show winner at Omagh Show, this lamb is by an £18,000 Allanfauld bought last year at Dalmally.

His full ET brother and from the same home, made 11,000gns to Patrick Harkin, Loughash, Donemana.

James McCurdy, who produced last year’s 30,000gns sale leader was again in the money, selling the 24,000gns lamb from his Correen flock from Broughshane, to Hugh and Alan Blackwood, Auldhouseburn, Muirkirk and Thomas Muirhead, Orchilmore, Comrie. He is backed by Auldhouseburn genetics on both sides with his sire making £16,000 and his dam being by a son of a £28,000 lamb.

On the debit side, Correen went to 9000gns for Eoghan Harkin’s pen leader from The Rock, Dunamanagh. The breeding behind this transaction includes Rock Solid, a home-bred son of a 4800gns Stroanbrack onto a ewe by an £11,000 Nunnerie.

Father Charlie and son Cathal Harkin’s No 2 lamb from The Rock, made 8000gns selling to E and P McCormick, The Grove, Cushendun, Co Antrim. He is also by a home-bred lamb, being a son of Top Secret, a £35,000 Auldhouseburn-sired ram of which a share was sold to Damien McSwiggan, Gortin. The dam is by Freaky, a £10,000 Elmscleugh.

Read more: Sandy Patterson shares his journey in the Blackface sheep world in this week's Stockmen of our time

That same Top Secret sire also came up with the goods for Mr McSwiggan, who was selling lambs for the first time here. His best, bred from a £30,000 Loughash-sired gimmer was knocked down to Graham Wallace, Shilnavogy, Broughshane.

Other south-type lambs sold to 14,000gns, and 7000gns.

Colm McAteers lamb sold for 14,000gns

Colm McAteer's lamb sold for 14,000gns

Dearest was a son of a £20,000 Crossflatt bought in Stirling, last year from Colm McAteer’s Drumboy flock from, Drumore, Co Down. He is bred from a ewe by a £16,000 Elmscleugh and sold to Lochgoilhead-based Chris Toner who also owns a small flock at Castlewellan in Northern Ireland.

Gordon Crawford and sons Ben and Jack, Aghanlane, Parkmore, sold the 7000gns lamb to Jonathan Loughrey, Limavady, Co Londonderry. A son of a £3500 Auldhouseburn bought at Dalmally, he is out of a ewe by a Crossflatt sire that is a full brother to Tornado, a £160,000 Dalchirla-sired sheep.

Matthew Hamilton, South Cobbinshaw, West Calder; Stephen Duncan, Livet, Tomintoul and Archie MacKinnon who manages Cadogan Estates’ Lynemore flock at Amulree, then forked out 5500gns for a son of an £11,000 Crossflatt from Mike Grant, Craigdoo, Kilcoo.

South-type shearling rams sold to 17,000gns for renewable energy specialist, Karl O’Mullan's Glenbuck flock from Rasharkin. This cracker, a son of a £5000 High Staward tup which last year bred sons to 10,000gns here, was purchased by Michael Ketch, Southern Ireland and the McEldowneys, Maghera, with Mr O’Mullan, retaining an equal share.

Three shearlings sold at 5500gns with the first from Eoin McKenna’s Tullykeeran flock from Maghera, selling to Alastair and David Mcarthur, Nunnerie, Elvanfoot. He is by a £22,000 Dalchirla, bought at Dalmally and bred from a Nunnerie ewe by Wisecrack.

Veronica and Patrick Fullerton sold two at 5500gns with the first of those, by a £20,000 Auldhouseburn, knocked down to Kieran Donaghy.

The second, purchased by A McFarlane, Benbradagh in partnership with Willie Stevenson, Balrazzie, Ballantrae, is by a £24,000 Elmscleugh bought by Loughash at Lanark, in 2019 while the dam is a daughter of the Omagh Show ewe lamb inter-breed winner in 2017.

Just behind, on 5000gns, Jake Hamilton, Auchaboy, Glenarm, sold a son of a £7500 Auchloy to Frankie and Kevin McCulloch, Ballynahinch, and Peter Morgan.

Top priced North-type Blackface was this ram lamb from the Mayfair flock at 11,000gns

Top priced North-type Blackface was this ram lamb from the Mayfair flock at 11,000gns

North or Perth-type Blackface rams, sold just as well with prices peaking at 11,000gns and 10,000gns and numerous others at four-figure prices.

Sale leader in this ring was a fourth prize ram lamb in the championship judged by Matthew Hamilton junior, Woolfords.

This big sale from father and son duo, Willard and Gavin Watson of the Mayfair flock from Macosquin, Coleraine, was a dream come true, with their previous best price being 800gns.

Their lamb, a son of a £3200 Auchnacloich shearling bought at Stirling last year, is bred from a ewe by a Gerard Brelin-sired lamb bought privately that goes back to the £11,000 Achdregnie. He sold to Sam Adams, Rathkeel Road, Broughshane.

Top priced North-type shearling ram at 10,000gns from Mark and Russell Smyth

Top priced North-type shearling ram at 10,000gns from Mark and Russell Smyth

His brother, Tom Adams and sons Joe and Archie, Rathkenny, bought the 10,000gns lot and lead priced shearling from Mark and Russell Smyth, Macosquin. This was the first prize single as selected by Bert Grant, Glendamph – a son of the £4000 Achdregnie, out of a ewe by an £1800 Craigneigh.

Keeping it in the family, Mark’s brother, William and son Michael, produced a personal best amongst the Blackies, having previously sold Texels to 46,000gns, with an 8000gns shearling sale to AC Carmichael, Dungiven, Londonderry.

Second in the singles class, this big fella is by an 800gns Robert Cassidy ram bought south of the Border in 2019 and bred from a ewe by a Viewmount ram.

The reserve shearling from James Carson, Clough, made 4000gns selling to James Hunter, Glenarm. His pedigree features a Mark Smyth-bred ram bought here in 2019 that was a son of Gavin Watson’s Dollar Bill, a tup that stood champion in 2018. The dam, by an Andy Hunter tup, goes back to a 6300gns Harkin ram.

Back amongst the north-type lambs, Tom Adams’ team from Rathkenny, won the prize for the first prize pen of three which sold for 7000gns, 5500gns and 3200gns.

The first, by a £3200 Auchnacloich bought last year, is out of a 2200gns Noel Frew daughter and sold to John and George Conway and their respective sons, Leo and Eamonn, Plumbridge.

The second which was the overall champion, as placed by Ronnie Downie, Newton of Crathie, was purchased by Michael Kennedy, Tullycleave, Ardara, Co Donegal.

Reserve champion lamb from John and George Conway, matched the 5500gns price when selling to Cathal Breslin, Cronkeerin and Matthew Hamilton and son Matthew, Woolfords. He is by a 3800gns Paul McEvoy tup bought in 2019 and out of a ewe by an £800 Woolfords.

Surpassing that price, Paul McEvoy, Kilcoo, received 6500gns for a son of a 1500gns Billy Grant, out of show ewe that last year bred lambs to 5000gns. The buyer was Kevin McAleer.

averages: Perth-type – 51 shearling rams, £1060.50 (-£16.23 for 18 more sold); 104 ram lambs, £1225.27 (-£1.27 for 16 more). South-type – 232 shearling rams, £1253.30 (+£162.68 for 42 more); 82 ram lambs, £2514.24 (+£170.57).

Auctioneers: Ballymena Livestock.