Irish Beltex Sheep Breeders’ Club looks back on a good year

THE Irish Beltex Sheep Breeders Club is looking forward to an eventful 2019 building further on the success that was enjoyed throughout 2018.

The highlights of the year were outlined by incoming Chairman, Mark Latimer at the Irish club’s AGM, which was held at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on December 6.

Prior to the election of officers Sarah Campbell, vet advisor at MSD Animal Health gave an illustrated talk on sheep diseases with topics covered ranging from lameness, clostridial and pasteurella infection to ovine abortion and correct timing of vaccinations.

MSD Animal Health’s Sales Man-ager Thomas Duffy was also in attendance.

Gary Scott (Omagh) was elected to committee with Wade McCrabbe (Donegal), Hugh O’Neill (Glenarm), and Kenny Preston (Omagh), re-elected to serve alongside Shirlee Nicholson (Kilkeel), Elizabeth McAll-

ister (Kells), Mark Latimer (Bess-brook), John Harbinson (Limavady), Matthew Burleigh (Kinawley), Eddie O’Neill (Glenarm), Patrick Brolly (Claudy), and Seamus Kelly (Omagh).

Mark Latimer was elected as the new Club Chairman for 2019 with Eddie O’Neill appointed Vice-Chairman.

Kenny Preston remains as Sec-retary while Gary Scott takes over as Treasurer from Shirlee Nicholson.

On behalf of the Irish Beltex Sheep Breeders Club, Mark Latimer and Kenny Preston thanked Shirlee Nicholson for all the hard work and commitment given to the club over the years.

As well as planning for the year ahead the meeting also reflected on a successful 2018.

The show season started in May with the Balmoral Show with Alison McCrabbe of the Ardstewart Flock, Donegal, judging the event. Alison found her Champion from the Bessybell Flock of G & J Scott, Omagh, with the Stock Ram, ‘Herber Park Batman’.

The Reserve Champion came from the Kells-based Artnagullion Flock of Elizabeth McAllister with the Shearling Ewe ‘Artnagullion Candy Crusher’. Also picking up awards were the Brownville Flock, Bessbrook, which got Reserve Male Champion with the first prize Shearling Ram and the Glenkeen Flock, Limavady, which took the Reserve Female Champion title with the first prize Aged Ewe.

Mark Latimer conveyed thanks to the members who made the effort to show over the four days and to those who helped out on the Beltex stand in the NSA tent.

One of the highlights of the year is the National Show (July 7) and this year the venue was the Omagh Showgrounds by kind permission of the Omagh Show. Judge for the day was Stuart Wood from the Woodies Flock and this attracted the biggest ‘National’ entry for a number of years.

Taking the top honours was Matthew Burleigh of Matt’s Flock, Kinawley, with his Shearling Ewe, Matt’s Curious. Standing in Reserve was Elizabeth McAllister’s Artnagullion Flock with her second prize Shearling Ewe, Artnagullion Cashmere. Picking up Male Champ-ion was the Brownville Flock with the first prize Shearling Ram with Reserve Male Champion going to the first prize Ram Lamb of the Artnagullion Flock.

“It’s safe to say the Beltex breed is in safe hands going by the entries in the Young Handlers classes at the National Show,” said Mark Latimer.

Hayley Mackey won the pre-school section, Ruby Latimer, the Primary School section and Sophie McAllister the Intermediate section.

“A big well done and congratulations to all who took part,” continued Mark.

The Beltex Cross-bred Sheep Carcase Competition was another huge success this year, with the Single Carcase Championship won by Ian McCaughern and the ‘Pairs’ won by Jason Cunningham. The club paid tribute to Colin Barnes and Seamus Kelly for all their hard work in arranging the Carcase Competition.

“Local shows are a great way not only to promote your stock but also to promote yourself,” explained Mark Latimer. “Most shows this year had good class numbers but I believe we can do better. So let’s try and get more breeders out at these shows in 2019.”

Beltex featured high up in the Interbreed Classes this year. David Brown won the Interbreed title at Lurgan Show with a Shearling Ewe while Elizabeth McAllister stood Reserve at Ballymena Show with her Gimmer and Matthew Burleigh won the Interbreed Ewe Lamb class at Omagh Show.

Carlisle Premier Sale had a record entry this year, but Irish breeders continued to dominate with Matt’s Flock picking up Champion with a Ram Lamb and then selling for 10,000gns.

Ardstewart got 14,000gns for a Shearling and the Burnside Flock lifted the Female Championship before selling for 3,000gns.

Again the young Beltex breeders came out to try their hand in the Young Handlers and it was Ciaran O’Neill of the Lagyveigh Flock, Glenarm, who picked up the number one spot.

This year’s Irish Premier Sale held in Dungannon Farmers Mart at the end of August had a great show of sheep on display. Judge Grant Anderson from Dumfriesshire found his Champion from the Bodoney Flock of A & J McCutcheon, Trillick, with their Shearling Ram Bodoney Caveman.

Reserve was Elizabeth McAllister with her first prize Shearling Ewe, Artnagullion Cleo. Reserve Male Champion went to C Aiken and Reserve Female Champion went to John Harbinson.

The sale saw a good demand for sheep from start to finish, with a top price of 1,120gns going to the third prize Shearling Ram of A & J McCutcheon.

Ballymena was a new sale for 2018. Staged as an evening event on September 17, a small but quality show of sheep saw Beltex Sheep Society Chairman John Harbinson, choose his Champion from the Brownville Flock of David Brown. The Champion, Brownville CJ ET, a Shearling Ram, went on to sell for a top prize of 750gns.

Reserve Champion also went to the Brownville Flock. It was the first prize Shearling Ewe, Brownville Carmel. Reserve Male Champion went to John Donaghy and Reserve Female Champion went to David Brown.

The Omagh sale, held on September 22, saw local breeder John Donaghy judge for the first time. He found his Champion from the Glenpark Flock of Kenny Preston, Glenpark Crunchy Nut, which sold for the top price of 760gns.

Reserve Champion went to Elizabeth McAllister’s Artnagullion Chris. Female Champion went to David Brown and Reserve Female to Kenny Preston.

This year the club held its Awards Night at the Silver Birch Hotel, Omagh, and a very enjoyable night was had by all. Judge for this year’s Flock Competition was Will Evans from Anglesey.

The Best Novice Flock Award went to John and Vicky Ferguson’s Vicky’s Flock from Comber. Small Flock Champion was G & J Scott’s Bessybell Flock (Omagh) while Reserve Small Flock Champion was Kenny Preston’s Glenpark Flock (Omagh).

Large Flock Champion was Matthew Burleigh’s Matt’s Flock, (Kinawley) and Reserve Large Flock Champion was John Harbinson’s Glenkeen Flock (Limavady). Overall Champion went to Matt’s Flock and Reserve to the Glenkeen Flock.

Show Flock of the Year went to David Brown’s Brownville Flock (Bessbrook) with Reserve going to Elizabeth McAllister’s Artnagullion Flock (Kells).

On behalf of the Irish Club Mark Latimer thanked all office bearers and members who helped with the smooth running of the club throughout the year. He also expressed condolences to any club member who had lost a family member during 2018.

“I would also like to thank all our sponsors who have supported the club and the Beltex breed throughout the year,” he added. “Looking ahead and I would like to encourage all breeders to support their local shows and club sales in 2019.”

The last event of the year is the Beltex In-Lamb Show and Sale which will take place at Dungannon Farmers Mart on December 21. Judging the show will be Francis Lyons from Galway. The show will start at 11am with the Sale commencing at 1pm.

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