23 August 2002

New breed record with Beltex tups

By Jeremy Hunt

A BELTING trade for Beltex tups during a 10-hour selling marathon at Carlisle saw prices soar to a new breed record of 10,500gns with 237 shearlings averaging £754.

But while pedigree flocksbattled it out for the reallybig-money tups, including an 8000gns deal early in the sale, the strong demand from commercial prime lamb producers was a clear indication that the muscle-bound Beltex had arrived as a leading terminal sire breed.

Hill men looking to improve the shape of lambs out of Swaledale ewes and lowland flockmasters after top conformation grades were all in contention as the concern over size and mobility of Beltex rams seems to have been overcome.

A hiccup on blood-testing prevented some imports being offered without scrapie-genotyping results, which did deter possible buyers. One purchaser who gave 1700gns for an import that had been tested said its Group 1 result clinched the deal.

Typical of the consistency of the bidding was John McIlwraiths pen of shearlings, looking particularly striking after several immersions in bloom dip. The first of the 12 rams bred in his Dunure flock at Ayr made 1000gns, with the entire pen levelling at £1193.

The top call of 10,500gns was a fitting accolade to go alongside Northern Ireland breeder Fergus Harbinsons Sheep Farmer of the Year title. His shearling Glenkeen El Dorado was by the imported ram Hutch, purchased two years ago in the same ring from Scottish breeders Alan Thom and Gavin Shanks, who joined forces again to secure El Dorado.

The ram, bred in Mr Harbinsons flock of 80 pedigree Beltex ewes, is out of a ewe sired by the flocks first stock ram imported from Belgium in 1993.

Senior rams demonstrating sound locomotion and strong legs were at a premium with 15 levelling at £1367. Among their ranks was the two-shear Brickrow Dazzle from John Cowan, Ayr, which made 8000gns.

Buyer Richard Colegrave had already bought a full brother in a private deal with Mr Cowan, but was determined to secure Dazzle after seeing him take the championship at the Royal Highland Show.

Dazzle is by Corstane Coulter, a grandson of the 8000gns Viagrow sold here five years ago. He will be used on Dutch Texel and Beltex ewes.

Mr Colegrave also gave 2200gns for a ram from the Fearn flock of J Scott and Partners, Ross-shire, while another Royal Highland prize winner by Corstane Coulter made 2800gns for Mr Cowan. Buyers were Smith and Evans, Welshpool.

Cheshire farmer Paul Slater is establishing a reputation for his crossbred Beltex/Texel rams and gave 3500gns for a shearling from the Boughton flock of Mary Dunlop. The ram was one of nine entered with her partner Dave Stanley, who sadly died suddenly just before the Carlisle sale.

Another from the same pen made 2000gns to M Bindloss, Shap Abbey, Penrith. A sheep owned solely by Mrs Dunlop and carrying her Corstane prefix realised 2200gns.

Other leading bids included 3000gns for a shearling from Graham Burke, Kinross, taken by John Barclay, Ayr, while Brian Atkinson, Penrith, gave 2600gns for a shearling from the successful Co Donegal-based flock of Wade McCrabbe.

Best of the imports was one from Gavin Shanks selling at 2500gns to S Whiteford, Biggar.

There were two female bids of 2000gns. One came for a shearling from Mr Harbinson, which stood female champion. This Hutch daughter was bought by J Smithson, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. The other 2000gns call secured a shearling from the Frazier family from Worcs that had taken the reserve female ticket at the Royal Welsh Show. Buyer was John McGarva, Annan.

Averages: 15 aged rams £1367; 237 shearling rams £754; 31 ram lambs £487; 107 shearling gimmers £419 (Harrison & Hetherington). &#42

Top price at 10,500gns – Glenkeen El Dorado, a shearling ram from Fergus Harbinsons flock, Northern Ireland.