This week in the sheep farming segment, This is Farming Talk To Flor Ryan, owner of Lawn Flock. We discuss ideas about Ryans Texels, building a reputable foundation flock and the future of sheep farming.
Flor Ryan’s vision, determination and foresight led her to enter Texel sheep at the age of sixteen, resulting in over thirty-five years of sheep farming experience and three breeding flocks.
Co., where his family now calls his agricultural enterprise home. He lived in Cork as a child until he decided to move to Kildare.
In the 1970s, the Ryan family was involved in the potato business as well as dry goods production.
During the school holidays he bought and sold sheep, buying his first Texels at the Maynooth Livestock March from Lyons Estate, which piqued his interest.
Following this, in 1987, Flor expanded his herd by acquiring five more females and two rams at a local stud sale.
Flor now runs her flock on over 150 acres of good land and in addition to Lawn Flock, the Ryan family run two other successful Texel breeding facilities. Flor’s niece Jackie Rotsee and her brother William own Graigues Texels.
Jackie, the owner of Rotsee, is a veterinary nurse who lives abroad and she travels to Co. for peak times like calving and sales. It goes back to its roots in Kildare.
The Ryans have been successfully producing high quality Texel sheep since 1987 and before that Flor managed a commercial flock of 600 sheep.
“We decided to start our Texel breeding facility in 1987,” he said. This is Farming.
“Texels stood out to me with a very lean body and were a nice cross with a Suffolk.
“When we started, there was a higher premium for lambs from butchers, along with the factory trade. In addition, Texels are a purer breed.
“Texels have a natural resistance to maggots, which makes a big difference with labor.”
Flor analyzes traits such as muscularity, length, skin and correctness when acquiring additional stock for a lawn herd.
In addition, in order to obtain a foundation fund, Flor purchased a large number of sheep to start with from “high-profile” flocks in Ireland.
In the first year, he mainly bought sheep and lambs and made a flock from them. However, his focus now shifted to keeping his females.
“Because I keep most of my own bred animals, the number of replacements I buy has decreased. I bought my last sheep in 2011.”
“I bought the sheep from a sale that was clearing out the herd of a dear friend who was unfortunately in poor health. At that time and to this day, it was the highest priced sheep I ever bought.”
“But in the long run it was the cheapest. This sheep raised the blood of the flock to a whole new level.”
In 2017, Flor sold a daughter from this ewe that was bought by a very reputable herd in England.
“The daughter went on to produce in the £65,000-£40,000 region
“It’s great to see his bloodlines do so well and to know that my stock has contributed to such success.”
Flor’s farm is already a busy place in the spring, with mares calving and running the business off the farm, so the lambs add to a really busy season.
“Our scan rates are generally around 1.8, there or thereabouts. In addition we source our spare rams from Blessington or Tullamore.
“Lambing starts in March and ends at the end of April. “The reason we stall the lamb during this period is to accommodate the growth of grass.”
“We are working with an intensive lambing system and we plan to lamb 90% of our ewes within two weeks. It works well for us; we aim to have a simple system”.
“We use a teaser and remove the ram after 17 days. After that, the ram returns to the April party after three weeks.”
“The sheep are outside during the day and brought to the barns at night. To be honest, this is for our convenience during the night shift.”
“For the last two years, we’ve also used cameras for convenience in the lambing shed.”
With a natural mating procedure for breeding ewes, some of Flor’s best performing ewes undergo an embryo transfer program.
“We aim to fry about six sheep every year. We analyze our best performing sheep using Sheep Ireland.”
“The demand for five-star sheep is increasing over the years. Sales proved it for us; “Ewes with higher star ratings are more popular in the ring.”
Each year Lawn Flock keeps 40-50 ewe lambs in the region as replacements, carefully selecting the highest quality cattle to strengthen the family’s reputation in the Texel market.
They do not sell ram lambs and at this stage they are engaged in the fur business by selling both male and female meat.
Ryan strives to breed furfish with muscle and shape, a lighter head and lambing ease.
According to Ryan, to be a successful sheep farmer, you need to pay “severe” attention to detail.
“I suggest you fix the little things and everything else will fall into place,” he said.
“However, the past year has seen dramatic changes in the agricultural industry as a whole, and inputs are becoming a major challenge for many businesses.”
“As funny as it sounds, after all these years, the best part of farming for me is still lambing season.”
“I love the arrival of the new babies and everything being a little more planned and organized.”
“In general, I’m not a big guy for fertilizer or food. Sheep farming is a bit wider for me and I don’t experience as high yields as those in the dairy industry. However, it’s something I’m still aware of.”
In addition, he takes care of alfalfa growth, making sure his pastures are properly managed and pH correct.
“I like to let my soil work naturally without a lot of input from artificial fertilizers,” he said.
“I’m all for putting in extra clover and stuffing it with white clover. Over the past ten years I have focused on proper pH and realized that alfalfa will not grow any other way. A pH of 6.3 to 6.5 is optimal for alfalfa growth.
“Furthermore, move your sheep regularly; I believe that sheep become stale without regular pasture rotation.
“When I work, I try to simplify everything. I’ve always loved sheep and Texels are so easy to work with.”
“If there’s any young person interested in getting into the sheep industry, I think go for it,” Flor said.
“Over the years I have made some great friends attending shows, sales and meetings both in Ireland and overseas. You really make memories that last a lifetime,” he concludes.
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