PATSY and Jason Cunningham from Rock, County Tyrone, won the ‘pairs’ championship title in the annual Beltex Cross-bred Sheep Carcass Competition held in Dunbia’s premises in Dungannon.
For father and son team, Patsy and Jason, it was one step up from last year’s competition where they had finished in the runner-up spot.
Rasharkin-based sheep farmer, Ian McCaughern, continued with his winning ways by lifting the individual title. Ian had been the pairs champion in 2016 and 2017.
The competition, organised by the Irish Beltex Sheep Breeders’ Club, drew the usual high quality entry of cross-bred lambs with judge Kenny Linton from Dunbia fulsome in his praise “especially taking into consideration the difficult year”.
This year’s entry was made up of 58 per cent E grades with just one lamb grading ‘R’.
“It was a very close run competition,” explained Kenny.
As well as lifting the pairs title Patsy and Jason Cunningham also collected rosettes for fourth and eighth places whilst individual carcass champion, Ian McCaughern, also picked up rosettes for second, fifth, sixth and 10th placings.
Third and seventh places went to first time entrant, Stephen Glenn from Carryduff with James and Emmett Carten finishing in ninth place. Other new entrants this year included Mark Rogers from Camlough and James Mullen from Loughmacrory.
“In a year where there has been a prolonged dry spell with grass poorer than usual it was good to see kill out percentages only slightly down on previous years, coming in at 53 per cent with best performances reaching 58 per cent,” explained competition organiser, Colin Barnes.
“Given that 98 per cent of the entries achieved top grades, attracting premium bonus payments, the results again prove that it makes sense to use a Beltex terminal sire to increase the return from your lamb crop.”
The winning pair from Patsy and Jason Cunningham weighed in at 38kg live and had carcass weights of 20.3 and 22.1kg, giving kill outs of 54 per and 58 per cent.
The second placed pair, shown by Ian McCaughern, weighed in at 40kg each and had carcass weights of 21 and 22.2kg, giving kill outs of 52 per cent and 56 per cent.
Stephen Glenn, James Mullen and James Carten also had lambs achieving ‘E’ Grades with 55 per cent to 57 per cent kill out.
This year’s event, which was sponsored by Dunbia, AB Europe, Provita and the Beltex Sheep Society, had a total prize fund of more than £700.
“Congratulations to the winners,” said Colin Barnes. “I would like to thank all the sponsors for their valued support and indeed all the producers for participating in what has been another very successful competition.
“I would also like to pay special thanks to Irish Beltex Sheep Breeders’ Club Committee Member Seamus Kelly and competitor Emmett Carten, for their help and support on the day.”
Footnote: The next show and sale of Beltex Sheep will take place at Dungannon Farmers Mart on Monday, August 27.
Pairs Competition Winner – Patsy and Jason Cunningham, Rock
Individual Carcass Winner – Ian McCaughern, Rasharkin.