The All Ireland Flock competition is taking place right now, a judge from Wales John Rowlands and driver Judy Maxwell are going all over Ireland looking and judging flocks both North and South of the border.
I think this is a wonderful competition as it is the only time that pure breed Zwartbles Flocks and sheep can be judged from all across Ireland. Because we have an (international) border between Northern and Southern Ireland sheep have to be quarantined, a ewe for 4 weeks and a ram for 8 weeks. This makes it difficult to show sheep in Southern Ireland if your from the North and likewise very time consuming and expensive if your from the South and want to show in the North.
There are three categories in the All Ireland Zwartbles Flock Competition, small flocks which have 1-10 breeding ewes, medium flocks which have 11 -29 breeding ewes and large flocks which have breeding stock of 30 and upwards. They are also judging best Zwartbles Stock ram from each flock. This involves both looking at the ram himself and at least 6 of his offspring, mature ewes, hoggets or lambs.
I have been taking part in the all Ireland Zwartbles flock competition since I first heard about it 4 years ago. I enter more for the fun and to support the Zwartbles Breeders across Ireland North and South of the border. Last year I was absolutely stunned to win second place in my flock group which was medium size flock. This year my flock still remains in the medium category as I only have 14 mature breeding ewes, the rest are hoggets and ewe lambs. Every year there are more flocks taking part in the All Ireland Zwartbles Flock competition so my chances are up in the air if I win a ribbon or not, but I honestly don’t mind how the ribbons fall as it is the taking part that counts.
The day John and Judy turned up it was pouring rain so I could take very few photographs.
I would like to thank both John Rowlands and Judy Maxwell for volunteering their time to crisscross Ireland to look at so many flocks. I think it will be taking them up to 4 days to see all the flocks that have entered this year. I am sure they have seen some fantastic sheep and flocks across the country.