WITH FOUR years of anticipation behind them, Blackface sheep enthusiasts in Ireland are champing at the bit for their latest ‘National Show’ on Monday, August 12.

To be held at Ballymena Mart, it follows the successful inaugural event in 2015. This year’s show is set to be bigger and better, with entries up by almost 100 – to 440 head, 202 of the north-type and 238 south-type entries.

Breed president, David Shedden, who farms at Muirkirk, in Ayrshire, told The SF that the popular event is expected to attract a large turnout. “The last National Show in Northern Ireland was fantastic and with entries well up this time, we’re all looking forward to a super, well organised show, with two very able judges at the helm.

“Thanks must go to all the sponsors, including the major ones, Ulster Ram Breeders and Ballymena Mart,” he said.

Judging will be in the hands of two well-known Scottish breeders – Willie Dunlop (south-type) and David Baillie (north-type). Mr Dunlop runs a 1900-ewe flock with his sons, Quintin and William, at Elmscleugh, Dunbar, East Lothian. The family has had huge success within the breed and has twice sold rams to six-figures, with a lamb reaching £100,000 in 2016 and another making £160,000 last year at Lanark – the current joint breed record price.

Selecting the best of the north-type will be David Baillie snr, who farms in partnership with his son, also David, at Calla, Carnwath, in Lanarkshire, where they run 900 ewes and 180 suckler cows. They won the breed’s National Show at Lanark in 2007 and secured the reserve ticket at the 2017 event, held at Stirling – each time with home-bred females. In the sale ring, they have achieved prices up to £21,000.

The Northern Ireland event kicks off on Monday at 11am.