Meet the Wicklow farmer and seven-year-old daughter who preserve uncommon sheep breeds

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Michael Healy retains three breeds of sheep on his farm in Roundwood, Co Wicklow.

ichael, who has lived on the farm all his life and has a flock of over 300 ewes, is getting his lambing pens prepared and his inventory organised in preparation for lambing season.

“I lamb twice a yr. I had a batch simply earlier than Christmas and now I’ve one other batch due,” he says.

“I’m lambing open air and I’ve nice pens that I exploit for freshly lambed ewes. This week I’m washing all of them down and organising them for the following lot of lambs.

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Michael Healy on his farm

Michael Healy on his farm

“I’ve the sector break up into paddocks and I’m simply after shifting the in-lamb ewes to recent grass.

“I’ve obtained the singles in a single paddock, the doubles in one other paddock after which I’ve obtained the triplets and any high-risk ewes in one other. They should be saved an eye fixed on.”

The farm used to inventory simply Cheviots, however lately Michael has added Swaledales and Dorsets.

“The Wicklow Cheviots have been our breed for generations,” he says. “They’re hardy and lamb outdoors, unaided principally, and the lambs can hit the bottom in any climate and nonetheless stand up and suck.”

Swaledales, additionally identified for his or her hardy nature and good mothering abilities, could be exhausting to seek out right here, based on Michael.

“I had heard that they had been going to be arising low-cost, so I used to be looking out and purchased them after they got here up a number of years in the past,” he says.

“They’re just like the Cheviots in some methods: you’ll be able to put them on the worst fields you’ve gotten and the lambs are nonetheless good.

“They stand up to rain effectively and they’re low-maintenance usually.”

Michael’s seven-year-old daughter Evaine has a “actual love” for the breed.

“She has at all times favored the sheep however once I purchased the Swaledales, she simply fell in love with them. They’re her breed now,” Michael says.

“She takes nice care of them and once I’m at work she checks and feeds them after college and through her holidays.

“She helps me to place the newly lambed ewes and lambs into the suitable paddocks and he or she is aware of all the things that needs to be executed. She’s actually an incredible assist, she’s going to be an incredible sheep farmer.

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Evaine feeds her pet lamb Elsa

Evaine feeds her pet lamb Elsa

Evaine feeds her pet lamb Elsa

“We went to a registered sale some time again and offered eight ewe lambs and purchased a registered ram and some extra ewes. It was nice to have Evaine with me and for her to be as concerned about it as me.”

Michael says of the Dorsets: “They’re very helpful and quiet. I put them to the hill in summer season and put the ram out with them. Then they’re lambing in December.

“They’re significantly helpful once you’re working off-farm as I’m,” says Michael, who works in Gardiner Grain in Coolgreany, Co Wexford.

“I discover the Dorsets settle higher on the hill and they’re simply managed too.”

Dorsets, one of many oldest breeds in existence, are identified for his or her prolific lambing talents: the ewes can lamb twice a yr.

“I lamb them earlier than Christmas and once more they produce nice, hardy lambs so that you don’t have to fret about them within the colder climate,” says Michael.

Michael’s spouse Roslyn and his mother and father Tommy and Theresa are an incredible assistance on the farm too, he says.

“Dad is 82 and he’s nonetheless closely concerned. We have now a dialog about each single factor that occurs.

“Roslyn does all of the paperwork, and he or she feeds and retains an eye fixed on the sheep.

“Having a companion that helps you is so essential. Roslyn places up with me working all day after which out on the farm within the evenings and weekends.

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Michael, Evaine and Roslyn Healy

Michael, Evaine and Roslyn Healy

Michael, Evaine and Roslyn Healy

“The work farmers’ wives have executed down by the generations has gone underestimated.”

With the ewes not far off lambing, Michael will quickly begin feeding them meal.

“I feed them cobs from Grennan and Sons, we inventory it Gardiner’s. They’re nuts that you simply don’t want troughs for,” he says.

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Michael checking his ewes

Michael checking his ewes

Michael checking his ewes

“I feed them 25kg luggage and I throw them on the bottom, all around the area. This fashion there’s no muck from the sheep standing within the one place and it avoids the sheep getting lame.

“They’re slightly bit costlier however what you lose in a single hand, you double-gain within the different.”

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