Ulster accolade goes to junior Charolais steer
By Jeremy Hunt
A JUNIOR Charolais steer from a top-drawer string shown by Dermot and Gareth Small from Kilkeel scooped the supreme ticket in a hotly contested finale at the Ulster Christmas Beef and Lamb Championships at Portadown.
The father and son team collected a fistful of prize cards with an immaculate team of cattle, but it was left to well known Glasgow-based beef stockbreeder Archie MacGregor, judge of the final line-up to award them the premier title.
And it could not have been a more fitting victory for the Charolais steer named Highlander. His sire is Allanfauld Vagabond, Mr MacGregors renowned sire of so many primestock champions.
Highlander was born in February and is out of a Belgian Blue cow. Although the Smalls have become successful primestock exhibitors in recent years – including a win at Royal Smithfield last year – this was their first overall victory at Ulster. Their champion, which won a cash prize of £1200, weighed 470kg and was bought by Carnlough butcher John OKane for £1950.
A wagon load of entries came up from Kesh with Gerald Law and notched up several good wins culminating with the shows butchers choice title. The winner was a cross-bred Belgian Blue heifer, by the breeds AI sire Bram and out of a three-quarter-bred Limousin dam.
The heifer realised £1550 to Ivan Jackson, Ballyclare.
The reserve butchers choice winner sold for £1050 when Loughanmore Meats, Parkgate, secured a Limousin heifer from Howard and Donald McFarland, Trillick, who were showing in commercial primestock classes for the first time.
The heifer was by Ronick Oklahoma and was bred in their herd which recently topped the British Limousin Cattle Societys fixture at this venue selling at 4000gns.
Belgian Blue breeding came to the fore again in the supermarket championship claimed by one of the six entries consigned by McKenna Bros, Clogher. Five of their team were in the ribbons – a notable achievement considering all were home-bred.
Leading Newtownards butcher Garreth Corrie paid £1200 for the McKennas champion. Taking the reserve in the supermarket category was a senior Limousin heifer from Milliken Bros, Coleraine, that realised £1050 to Harry and Jean Marquees. Their Marquess Meats company has been long standing buyers of some of the best beef at this event.
The Ulster Butchers Choice section had drawn an entry of 90 cattle and was judged by Ballymoney butcher David Millar. He backed his judgement by paying £900 for the best opposite sex to the champion – a Charolais x Limousin steer from Law Bros, Kesh.
The overall supreme title went to the winner of the Charolais senior steer class. Paraded by Alan Lecky, Castlederg, it realised £1000 to butcher David Lamont from Cullybackey.
There was strong demand for all classes of cattle in the post-show sale-ring. Leading the bidding for cattle not included in the final shake-up of top awards was 230p/kg given for a first prize winning Limousin heifer from the Smalls team. It weighed 380kg and realised £874. *