Co Down fisherman Edward Nicholson and his wife Shirley chose
Beltex as their preferred terminal sire in 2000 and would not consider
any other ram now.
Crossbred ewes with their Beltex sired lambs
grazing in Co Down.
They are delighted with Beltex for ease of lambing and top grading
performance which is ideal for his farming policy. So impressed
were they with their first ram that they now have established the
Derryouge pedigree flock of their own.
Edward is a fisherman sailing from Kilkeel on a regular basis
and is no stranger to harsh conditions and stringent regulatory
constraints within his work leaving Shirley to care for the flock.
He was first drawn to Beltex to increase his average slaughter
grades and improve the quality of the lamb carcass by providing
a leaner lamb with a much higher meat to bone ratio. He bought
his first Beltex ram from S & P Clarke's Creevy flock
and saw an immediate improvement in grades in his lamb crop.
“I can depend on the Beltex cross to regularly achieve the
E grades which I struggled to get with other breeds. My policy
is to mates a group of 40 ewes early to ensure that they lamb down
at my Christmas break. These are marketed at 11 to 12 weeks of
age to catch the early lamb trade to bring the maximum financial
returns. The first of these were sold through the Starangford Down
lamb group this week.”
To date these lambs have had exceptional growth rates and well
above average kill outs. At eleven weeks of age they have reached
24 Kg deadweight and kill out as high as 60%. When selecting lambs
for slaughter anything at 39 Kg live will produce at least a 21
kg deadweight He has proven that year after year the Beltex will
give consistent lamb crops with amazing genetic stamping. The lambs
are sought by the processor who knows that they will produce more
lean meat per lamb due to a combination of fine bone structure
and superior grading. Selling his lambs through Peirce Connolly
and Doherty and Grey he is assured that he can collect the bonus
payments for the top grades and get paid for weights up 23 Kg.
This brings a benefit of at least £4.80 per head.
In recent years with the bonus payments his early lambs have fetched
up to £85 per head with a high % hitting the E grade classification.
He said, “even though most farmers will readily acknowledge
the grading and carcass capabilities of the breed, they under estimate
the live weights and growth rates of the lambs and hence the real
advantages they offer. For some of the lambs which I have
kept a note of performance they fell just short of 0.5Kg in live
weight gain per day.”
With the early lamb crop ready for market he is now turning his
attention to the lambing of the pedigree flock and the remainder
of his commercial lambs which will be born from mid March onward.
He would normally have these later commercial lambs sold by July
and the pedigree will either be sold direct or through the Pedigree
sales from September on.
Beltex cross lambs ideal for the Christmas and New Year market