Carlisle bids take off for the fast-improving Beltex

18 August 2000

Carlisle bids take off for the fast-improving Beltex

By Jeremy Hunt

A RIP-ROARING trade for rams reached 7000gns and levelled 226 shearling tups at an impressive £589 at the Beltex Sheep Societys show and sale at Carlisle.

The two-day fixture brought almost 600 entries to Borderway Mart where Northumberland stock breeder John Campbell – best known for his Suffolk sheep and primestock successes – had been invited to judge the entry. He was unequivocal in his praise of the breed.

"I have never seen any breed make as much progress as the Beltex has over the past five years. The quality was truly unbelievable. I had 46 sheep in the shearling ram class and there was wonderful carcass quality right down the line. The Beltex is going to have a massive impact on the future in the UK sheep industry," said Mr Campbell, who does not actually keep the breed.

The championship went to Ardstewart Charles, an outstanding home-bred shearling ram from Wade and Alison McCrabbes flock of 35 ewes at Co Donegal, Eire. This was their second successive championship at this event.

The ram, whose bulging gigots and superb fleshing were combined with good legs and mobility, was sired by Ravara Bass – a tup they bought in the Carlisle ring three years ago at 1350gns – and out of a ewe by the successful sire Downkillybegs Viper.

Buyer was Jock Allan, Biggar, Lanarkshire who jointly paid the 8000gns breed record price last year.

The McCrabbes also stood reserve champion with another shearling sired by a tup from the Alans flock. It made 1600gns to Cheshire buyer G E Slater.

The McCrabbes made two buys giving 1200gns for the ram lamb Pentland Dominator from Graham Craig Burke of Kinross and 1000gns for a lamb from the Clary flock consigned by J L McMillan, Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire.

The packed sale ring saw commercial lamb producers out in force, many on a reconnaissance mission and others keen to buy. There was widespread recognition of the breeds carcass quality and in particular the degree of "correctness" that has been achieved through improvement in legs and movement.

Pedigree breeders battled for stock tups but the ringside did not generate enough cash for one of Lanarkshire breeders Gavin Shanks and Alan Thoms most admired imported shearlings. However a deal struck outside the ring saw the ram sold to Fergus Harbinson, Limavady, Northern Ireland at 5000gns.

The Shanks-Thom partnerships raft of imports included a 2600gns shearling bought by &#42 ONeill, Glonarm, Northern Ireland and the top priced female, another imported shearling, taken at 1500gns by T Adams, Temple-patrick, Northern Ireland.

Already in the spotlight after winning the ram lamb class at the Royal Highland Show was Headlind Dynamic from Allan and Susan Jackson, Cupar, Fife. He sold jointly at 2700gns to the Frazier family from Kidderminster and Andrew Graham, Wigton, Cumbria.

The two-shear ram Bulldozer, champion at the Royal and Royal Welsh Shows this year for owners John McIlwraith and John Barclay of Ayr realised 2000gns to father and son team of Bill and Dermot Weaver. He goes as stock tup in their Georgie flock at Malvern.

The top female ticket went to an imported shearling from the McIlwraith-Barclay partnership that was reserve female champion at the Royal Welsh Show. She made 1400gns to D Shedden, Muirkirk, Ayrshire.

Averages eight aged rams £727 (up £149), 226 shearling rams £589 (up £58), 79 ram lambs £408 (up £22) and 89 gimmer shearlings £403 (up £16). (Harrison and Hetherington.) &#42

At 7000gns Ardstewart Charles presented the best of Beltex, a breed that keeps improving, say some outside observers.

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