The growing popularity of the Beltex sheep breed, notably among Britain’s butchers for the quality, consistency and taste of meat from their prime lambs, was clearly illustrated by a record 266-strong turnout and a record venue price for the overall champion at the Beltex Sheep Society’s 11th annual show and sale of pedigree rams and females at Skipton Auction Mart. (Sat, Sept 10)
George Cropper with his Beltex Sheep Society 2011 Skipton supreme champion shearling ewe, joined by Chris Windle, of sponsors Windle Beech Winthrop.
In fact, the first prize shearling ewe, female champion and supreme show champion came from the Lancashire-based Cropper family of butchers, who regularly buy champion prime lambs at Skipton and are increasingly making their mark in the Beltex breeding world.
Shown by George Cropper – he and his father, also named George, run Croppers’ Butchers in Accrington Market – the title winner, Hudhey Petal 3rd, had already made her mark in the exhibition arena, having won three breed championships and two reserve inter-breed championships at Chipping, Garstang and Haigh shows.
The Croppers first established their Hudhey Beltex flock, based on the family farm in Baxenden, in 2008. They now have some 40 breeding sheep, used both for show purposes and producing their own butcher’s lambs.
They stepped up on a reserve male championship success at last year’s corresponding fixture when taking top honours at the 2011 renewal with a home-bred shearling ewe by a sire acquired in 2009 from the Scottish-based Clary flock.
The victor was also by far the best performer in the sales ring when sold for 3,700gns (£3,875), a new record high for the Skipton fixture and the second highest price for a gimmer shearling sold this year at a Beltex Society sale.
It was acquired by Jim and Diane Wood, of Scale Farm, Horton in Ribblesdale, on behalf of their 19-year-old daughter Hannah, who is keen to breed Beltex sheep.
She started work on the family farm straight from school, now has two Beltex shearling ewes and is looking for a suitable ram to kick-start her breeding programme. “I really like Beltex,” said Hannah, who first became interested in the breed through her farming grandparents Eddie and Doreen Barrow, also from Horton in Ribblesdale.
The Croppers also exhibited the first prize aged ewe, the March, 2008-born Hudhey Mistique, by Beachy Jack The Lad, sold at 450gns (£472.50) to P Brown, Castleford.
Anne Story with her Beltex Sheep Society 2011 Skipton reserve supreme champion shearling ram.The first prize shearling ram, male champion and reserve supreme champion came from Cumbrian breeder Anne Story’s Borderesk flock at Hobbiesburn, Longtown, Carlisle.
Borderesk President, a home-bred son of Headlined Megalad, was acquired from Scottish breeder Alan Jackson. Making his first-ever appearance in the show ring, he returned to Cumbria when sold for 1,250gns, second highest call of the day, to Michael Robinson, of Staindrop, Barnard Castle.
Mrs Story currently has 120 Beltex breeding ewes and presented the overall reserve champion at this year’s Great Yorkshire Show.
The reserve male championship fell to the first prize ram lamb from 2010 Skipton Beltex supreme champions, Gloucestershire-based husband and wife breeders Andrew and Rebecca Bishop, who trade as A & R Livestock at Pitfield Farm, Eldersfield.
Like last year’s title winner, the ram lamb - sold locally for 650gns (£682.50) to John and Judy Garnett, Lane End Farm, Draughton - is by the Bishops’ Fort View Knight, bought from Northern Ireland’s Brendan McQuaid, of Banbridge.
The son of Grittar has proved a productive commercial sire for the Bishops, being responsible for butchers’ lambs champion at shows and winter fatstock fixtures across the country.
The couple were also responsible for the first prize ewe lamb and reserve female champion, a home-bred daughter of Luggsmill Lover Boy, sold for 250gns (£262.50) to William Warren, of Church Farm, Gomersal, Bradford. However, it was their second prize ewe lamb that headed the class prices at 620gns (£651) when joining the same buyer.
Mr Warren, his brother James and father Andrew, run their own haulage and agricultural contracting business in West Yorkshire. They initially started breeding sheep as a hobby.
Best of the aged rams was presented by North Craven breeder Michael Davis, whose Rathbone flaock is based at Ravenshaw Farm, Eldroth, Austwick. The February, 2008-born son of Headlind Ee By Gum, bred locally by Bernard Staveley, of Newby Moor, Clapham, made 850gns (£892.50) when joining C R Green, Halifax.
Aged rams averaged £546, shearling rams £492.32, ram lambs £335.05, aged ewes £321, shearling ewes £360.13 and ewe lambs £213.04.
Show judge was Ian McMillan, of Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire in Scotland. Chris Windle, of Skipton-based Windle Beech Winthrop Surveyors, presented a £100 cash prize to the supreme champion, while the reserve supreme champion received £50 from JG Animal Health. Full results and prices are at www.ccmauctions.com
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