On Wednesday 9th November, Linden Foods organised a trip for their sheep producers to the new DAERA state-of-the-art sheep shed at Greenmount’s Glenwherry Hill Farm. The educational visit was a huge success with over 180 Linden farmers attending.

The day consisted of a shed tour and briefings arranged by Dr Eileen McCloskey and Brian Hanthorn (DAERA), there were also specialist advice workshops from Matthew Armstrong from Fane Valley Feeds on feeding the fattening lamb and effective sheep products and controlling parasites within the flock by Donald Mackey and Andrew Christie from Fane Valley Stores.

The tour of the sheep shed highlighted the handling facilities and technologies, which could be adapted to improve the efficiency on many sheep farms. The importance of good handling facilities was addressed and the shed showed pen designs and a handling area including a circular pen, footbath and sheep race, which all farmers agreed would be beneficial on farm.

The shed included innovative technology such as EID readers, an electronic weighbridge, and drafting gates. All of this technology linked into a digital system, which recorded all information within the lifetime of any individual ewe and their progeny. Being able to identify the daily live weight gains of lambs and relate this to their mothers can help farmers to identify the most prolific ewes with the best maternal abilities. This helps farmers to ensure they are increasing the genetic merit of their flock and therefore becoming more efficient.

Speaking at the farm visit William Waugh, Procurement Director – Linden Foods remarked: “We have been delighted by the support and attendance to Hill Farm today. As a business we are committed to building strong relationships with our farmers through our Producers clubs and GREENTRACK programme. Helping educate and showing practical demonstrations of best practice and innovation is part of our overall strategy for excellence. The facility here at Glenwherry has raised the bar for sheep farming in Northern Ireland and hopefully creates an appetite for improvement and sustainability.”

Sheep farmer Crosby Cleland from Saintfield said: “It was great to get the invitation from Linden to attend an educational tour and a series of workshops at Glenwherry Hill Farm today, this reinforces their commitment to us as sheep farmers and is a testament to the high standards they are trying to achieve and also a collaborative way to work with others such as DAERA and industry professionals within the wider Fane Valley Group. Myself and other sheep farmers can go home and adjust their own farming methods to keep to the ever new standards required.”

With the new DAERA farm improvement scheme just launched prior to the visit, farmers where able to see the advantages of investing in products available through Tier 1 which can record the performance of the ewe and her lambs and we hope this will help farmers make informed decisions when applying for the grant. The overall shed layout and engineering within will also help farmers identify areas of the building such as feeding barriers which they may find beneficial within their own sheep sheds or sheds invested in through Tier 2 of the grant scheme.

For further information on becoming a Linden Producer or to supply in-spec lambs please contact Gary Foster Tel: 02887728376 (or) Mob: 077543 90288