“Everyone calls me ‘the mad sheep woman’ - I am so passionate about my Suffolks,” explained 18-year-old Jordan Toye.
The Kilrea/Garvagh, Co. Londonderry native’s passion for sheep reflects back to 2014 when the family purchased their first two pet lambs; Rosie and Chuck. “These were only got to keep the garden down at our new house!” she told Catherina Cunnane – That’s Farming.
Jordan and her father, Stephen, established Boveedy Suffolks in November 2017 with the purchase of a ewe lamb, Chocolate, from the Benvale flock.
They acquired their first in-lamb pedigree ewe from the Burnview flock at their sale in the Kings Hall, Belfast and secured another in-lamb ewe from the Blackbrae flock at an in-lamb sale in Ballymena.
“Over the winter, we added other ewe lambs to our flock. In February 2018, our first Boveedy ewe lamb, Honey, was born.”
Expanding the flock
In July 2018, the father-and-daughter-duo purchased their first pedigree Suffolk ram lamb, Kirkview Legend, privately from John McKay.
The ram served twelve of their pedigree ewes and they lambed down in January. “Twenty-five lambs were born on the farm with a range of twins and singles and one set of triplets.”
“For my eighteen birthday, one of my presents from daddy was Chocolate, one of our Suffolk ewes - we have such a close relationship and is my partner in crime.”
“Chocolate is one of the smallest two-year-old Suffolk you will ever see, even her daughter is bigger than her, but that’s what makes her unique.”
The farming duo parted ways with Kirkview Legend [main image] at the Ballymena Premier Export Show and Sale during the summer; here he obtained a red rosette and sold for 600gns.
They then introduced a new stock ram, Benvale Knockout, from Rodney Blair, to the pastures, and are currently awaiting the arrival of his progeny.
“In September of this year, we took a family holiday to Kelso Ram sales, which I ended up coming home from with a ram, Ballynacannon Bomber from Dennis Taylor,” Jordan added.
Over the years, their flock has expanded to include a variety of other breeds including Texels; Dorsets; Zwartbles; and Kerry Hills.
The 18-year-old juggles farming with her A-level studies at Magherafelt High School and a part-time position in a livestock mart.
“I have always loved working with livestock ever since we started sheep farming.”
“When I was studying for my GCSEs four years ago, this is when I realised that I wanted to work with animals because I always enjoyed vaccinating, dosing and caring for my livestock.”
Her passion for livestock has inspired her to become a vet, with intentions to study veterinary medicine at University of Bulgaria in 2020.
“It is tricky enough to balance school and work, never mind farming our flock of 35 pedigree Suffolk sheep.”
“The sheep get fed every morning and night and are checked when they are fed - that takes about thirty minutes.”
“I love waking up and having the thought of going to see my sheep. I enjoy having the opportunity to bring new life into the world during the lambing season.”
“Along with doing all the paperwork, I am the one who normally lambs the ewes,” Jordan admitted.
At Swatragh Livestock Market, Jordan is a team member, with responsibility for collecting permits, computer work, EID scanning and penning entries.
“I work every Saturday for the general sale of fat stock, breeding and store entries. I will also help if I am needed any other day of the week. I am always at work on Saturday at 6:45 am.”
Although her sights are firmly set on studying veterinary medicine, Jordan plans to undertake an animal science course, which will lead her into research and genetics, if she is unsuccessful in her attempt.
“I would also like to increase the pedigree flock and perhaps introduce another breed that daddy and I both agree on.”
“Most importantly, we will continue to aim towards scooping champion rosettes at shows and achieving big price-tags at sales.”
“I remember basically everything from bringing the first sheep home to our first purchase, our first lambing, our first shows and sales and our first red rosette.”
“These are all very important milestones in my life, and in daddy’s as well, so I hope that there are many more to come.” the young farmer concluded.
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