Galway 2020 PROJECT BAA BAA is launching its Primary Schools SHEEP PROJECT

PROJECT BAA BAA is launching its Primary Schools SHEEP PROJECT. Aiming to inspire and educate children about the important role of sheep and associated traditions in our culture,

Galway 2020’s PROJECT BAA BAA is a unique programme celebrating the cultural, economic and environmental contribution of sheep in Ireland and Europe. Exploring Ireland’s agricultural heritage including sheep farming for meat, milk and the many uses of wool.

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Deborah Evers
ZWARTBLES (BLACK&WHITE)

The Zwartbles name means Black with a White Blaze. A very noble yet elegant black sheep with a distinctive white blaze from poll to surround the muzzle, two to four white socks up to but not beyond the knees or hocks and undocked tails with a white tip. Like a short horn cow these sheep serve the dual purpose for meat and milk but have the addtion of a very fine thick fleece with plenty of crimp. The Zwartbles sheep are considered to have a superior conformation that can be passed down to the next generation, it has many characteristics considered desirable for cross breeding, its large frame, prolific nature, milky ewes, and fast growth rate. Commercial sheep farmers have become aware of the Zwartbles reputation for rapid growth, a low fat carcase and are successfully using the rams as maternal sires. The ewe lambs produced are retained for breeding and crossed with any of the main terminal sires.

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LONGWOOL SHEEP BREEDS

The fleeces from the long wool breeds are popular among niche marketers and hand spinners. In Ireland, some of the popular long wool breeds include Blue Leicester, Wensleydale, Ryeland and Romney. While each of the long wool sheep breeds listed below can be raised and bred for meat production, these sheep breeds are primarily valued and raised for their wool production. These long wool breeds of sheep are selected and bred for their ability to grow lustrous fleece with a loose crimp (waviness) and long staple (fiber length) that is ideal for craftsmen and craftswomen interested in spinning wool andcreating hand made wool products.

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Deborah Evers
SHEEP BREEDS for MILK

There are a few dairy sheep breeds that you could add to your farm. Two of the commonest dairy sheep breeds used in Ireland are the East Fresian and the Lacaune. Their milk is usually described as pure and wholesome with high butterfat and protein content and excellent milk flavor. It is well suited to making a wide array of cheeses. In Ireland sheeps milk is being used by producers for milk, cheese, icecream and yoghurt ! Details of some of these are below…

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TEXEL & BLUE TEXEL

Hardy, adaptable and with exceptional carcass qualities, the Texel has become the dominant terminal sire breed in Ireland and the popularity of this distinctive breed is growing. Bred for meat, specifically lamb the Texel is known for the breed’s excellent carcass quality and, in particular, the high lean content and large eye muscle of the Texel cross carcasses. Blue Texels are similar to white Texels, but express the "blue" (Abl ) coat pattern. This is a recessive gene in the Texel breed, and Blue Texels breed true for it. Blue sheep are found in all Texel types from the smaller Dutch Texels to the larger Texels common in Britain. There is evidence of higher fertility in Blue Texels. The blue pattern can vary from very pale animals to quite dark, but no part of the fleece is fully black or white. The black head, ears and legs have symmetrical white markings. The flank wool is lighter than the shoulders and belly, sometimes a pale silvery blue. If two white Texels carry the blue gene, there is a 25% chance of a blue lamb from a mating. Matings between blue sheep will always produce blue lambs.

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Deborah Evers
THE BLACKFACE BREED

The Blackface Breed

 

There are many different breeds of sheep in Ireland. The most common is the blackface mountain breed on upland farms. They are very hardy and can put up with cold, wind and rain. They are very nimble and roam about looking for grass. Several strains of Scotch Blackface have evolved down through the years in Scotland and Northern Ireland there are three types namely Perth, Newton Stewart and Lanark. In Ireland there are the Mayo/Connemara type, Kerry Blackface and the Waterford and Donegal types which are very similar to the Perth strain in Scotland. There has also been a lot of crossing and merging of the types in recent years especially in Scotland where the Newton Stewart and Lanark are almost totally merged.

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SUFFOLK SHEEP

Suffolk sheep are a black-faced, open-faced breed of domestic sheep raised primarily for meat. They are polled and have black open faces along with black legs and white woolled bodies. Suffolks are considered a large breed of sheep, their large frame and muscular bodies make them an ideal breed for meat production, however; they are also good for wool production as well. These strong and hardy animals are good mothers.

The Suffolk evolved from the mating of Norfolk Horn ewes with Southdown rams in the Bury St Edmunds area of the UK. These sheep were known as Southdown Norfolks, or locally, as “Black faces.” The first recording is in 1797 when in his “General view of agriculture in the county of Suffolk” Arthur Young stated: “These ought to be called the Suffolk breed, the mutton has superior texture, flavour, quantity and colour of gravy.”

 

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SHEEP BREEDS in IRELAND

Over the next two months we will introduce you to different sheep breeds in Ireland. The National Sheep Breeders Association is a good source of information on sheep breeds and events throughout the year if you are interested in seeing these breeds. You will also find information on breeds and breeders on the individual breed society social media sites. This week we start with the Galway Sheep.

The Galway Sheep Breeders Association was established in 1923. The Association was founded to encourage the breeding and conservation of Galway Sheep and to maintain the Sheep as a pure breed.

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Teagasc SHEEP 2018

Project Baa Baa will launch at Teagasc SHEEP 2018 - Farm to Fork. This is a big day out with exhibit and demonstrations ranging covering wool craft, food and equipment and working sheep dog displays.

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Emilia Furey