Beltex rams in demand as prices hit 8000gns
By Jeremy Hunt
A BLISTERING trade for Beltex rams at the UKs biggest ever sale for the breed saw prices soar to 8000gns when pedigree and commercial buyers competed for almost 400 at the Breed Societys Carlisle show and sale.
The breeds extreme hindquarter muscling appears to have become even more pronounced, but any question marks over mobility – and potential commercial buyers kept a close watch on movement during judging – were set-aside as most rams displayed a free action promising effective sire duties.
While north country buyers were active, auctioneers said that many "new faces" from far afield were among the keenest bidders.
But Ayrshire-based pedigree stockbreeder John McIlwraith, who has been a prime mover in establishing the breed in the UK, said a lot of commercial lamb producers were back to buy two or three tups after a successful "try-out" with one ram last year.
"Its great to see such a strong commercial demand. Its in line with the quest for quality that many farmers believe is the only way to maintain future profitability," said Mr McIlwraith.
He brought a large consignment of home-bred ram lambs and imported shearlings and it was one of the latter – a sheep he calls "the best Beltex he has ever seen" – that took the championship adding to breed titles won at the Royal and Royal Welsh Shows this summer.
The ram, a powerful Belgian import who, despite his conformation, was athletic enough to outrun his handler, rocketed to 8000gns taken jointly by J and D Milne (Turriff), Springbox Management (Biggar), M Dunlop (Biggar) and T Allan (Biggar).
A shearling ram from the Longley flock of K and A McCarthy, Co Down made 2800gns to W Oag and D A K Murray, Caithness. J Marshall Farms Ltd, Kent paid 2200gns for a 1995-bred ram from J L McMillan, Newton Stewart (bred in the Downkillybegs flock).
The female champion, this years show gimmer from T J Carson and Sons Downkillybegs flock in Ballymena, made 2100gns to G Allen, Portadown.
Averages: 13 aged rams £775; 173 shearling rams £589; 109 ram lambs £409; 20 ewes £296; 91 shearling gimmers £505 and 36 ewe lambs £295. (Harrison and Hetherington) *
John McIlwraiths powerful Beltex ram made the top price of 8000gns.