The influence of the Beltex has literally changed the shape of primestock sheep showing and it was a pair of threequarter-bred Beltex lambs that walked away with the supreme sheep title at Agri-Expo.
The Beltex-sired lamb classes pulled in the biggest entries, but there was quality in depth right down the line – good enough for well-known primestock buyer and judge Paul Barker to comment that the turnout could hold its own at any of the most prestigious primestock shows.
It was early in the day that a pair of lambs from Andrew Baillie of Lanark was pulled out to head the class for Beltex-sired lambs weighing more than 40.1kg – and when it came to the championship Mr Barker could find nothing to beat them.
Andrew Baillie, partnered by brother Ian, showed the home-bred 44.9kg threequarter-Beltex lambs to achieve his best win to date in winter primestock showing. Bred in his flock of 600 ewes – comprising Cheviot, Blue du Maine x Cheviot and pedigree Beltex – they were sired by Longley Hero, who cost 1100gns last year.
When it came to the reserve championship several seasoned campaigners had to give way to youth when 14-year-old Hannah Brown from Bedale piloted her Beltex-sired lambs – victors from the Young Farmers classes – to clinch the title. The lambs, bred by her father Martin Brown, were supreme champions at Countryside Live in Harrogate the previous week.
One of the strongest classes of the day was for Continental-sired untrimmed lambs. The class had to be split into two weight divisions with Martin Brown leading the lightweights with a Beltex-sired pair. Beltex breeder and full-time foot-trimmer David Thornley from Harthorne, Derbyshire, topped the heavyweights with threequarter-bred Beltex entries.
Beef judge John Peckitt, Thirsk, had his work cut out selecting his overall champion from 14 strong classes. But he had no hesitation when Shaun Harryman led out the family’s Limousin cross heifer Black Beauty. Sired by Snoopy, this was the first time out for the heifer, who now heads for the English Winter Fair. Along with his father Keith and brother Mark, the family are no strangers to Carlisle as they regularly sell suckled calves from their 60 commercial heifers bought in each year alongside their 100-cow pedigree Limousin herd.
Taking the reserve spot was Alister and Liz Vance’s Limousin cross heifer Devine Diva. Bred by the Scotts of Thirlwall Castle and bought in Carlisle in the spring, Diva next heads to the Royal Smithfield Christmas Fair early next month.
Taking top spot in the steer section was Elfed Williams’ Limousin cross Stop & Stare, while the Rice family took reserve spot with their Limousin cross steer Honky Tonk.
In the Aberdeen Angus classes Brian and Linda Ronan dominated proceedings. With Richard and Carol Rettie at the lead, they took the top spot with Jerusalem Lord Jupiter, a Blelack Blacksmith son out of Netherton Lady Jane. The couple also took the reserve spot with Jerusalem Duchess H135. Homebred on both sides this February-born calf is by Jerusalem Lord Hermes.
Leading the British Blue classes was ET-bred bull Solway View Caesar from Kevin Watret of Annan. The black-and-white bull is by Baron du Bois Bauloye and was bought as an embryo out of the show cow Bringlee Sandy. Nicola Beardsley of Derbyshire took the reserve championship with the 10-month-old heifer Woodlands Diamante. She is by Felicien de Courriaulx.