28 May 1999

Breeders heartened as Blues hit record prices

SMASHING all previous breed records, Belgian Blues set a UK breed average of £3002 for 120 bulls and a top price of 7000gns after a day of frantic bidding.

Suckled calf producers jostled for places around the Borderway Mart ring which was at bursting point. They competed feverishly to take nine bulls to 5000gns and over, lifting last years average by £247.

The depth of the trade heartened breeders. Auctioneers spokesman David Thomlinson said recent trade had demonstrated the resilience of commercial bull buyers to tackle future market demands head-on.

"Suckled calf producers have made substantial investments in top-quality sires this spring. Now the meat trade must show its commitment to farmers and give them full support," he said.

Staffs breeder Jane Wyllie was delighted with her average of just over 5000gns for five transactions which included the top price. It came for Tamhorn Ocker, an impressive blue and white December-bred son of Ministre du Bouchelet. Top call came from suckled calf producer Colin Little who farms at Ireby, near Carlisle.

Mrs Wyllie, who topped this sale last year at 5000gns and has been building up her herd through an extensive flushing programme, bought Ocker as an implanted embryo.

"Suckler men want Belgian Blue bulls with muscle and mobility and thats what we are aiming for," she said.

Mrs Wyllie also sold her intermediate champion at 4500gns and had three bulls out of the successful breeding cow Norbreck Kitty, to average 4400gns.

Young Cumbria breeder Richard Carruthers had an outstanding sale wooing buyers with sons of Oscar du Vanova. He accounted for three of the top five prices: Valley Oliver at 6200gns, Valley Oscar at 5500gns, and Valley Opal at 5500gns.

A successful local show career as a calf last summer continued when Leesemanor Orlando stood reserve junior champion under Belgian judge Marc Witry for Cheshire-based Mrs &#42 Lomas and Son. He realised 5800gns to M E and J J Fell, Carlisle.

Age was no handicap to the champions. The supreme title went to local breeder Stuart Bell with his seven-year-old imported cow Laga De Jeneffe. It made 2600gns to J Wyllie, Dungannon, Ireland.

And the eight-year-old show winning bull Greystone Indelible, from Lancs-based Maguire Livestock Services, stood male champion and made 3200gns to J O Adams (Thrupp Farms Ltd), Northants.

Averages: 33 senior bulls £2618; 43 intermediate bulls £3102, 44 junior bulls £3181. Total: 120 bulls £3002. (Harrison & Hetherington). &#42