Rasharkin-based sheep farmer, Ian McCaughern, retained his ‘pairs’ championship title in the annual Beltex cross-bred sheep carcass competition held in Dunbia’s premises in Dungannon on Friday, July 28. He also lifted rosettes for ‘pairs of carcasses’ that finished third, fourth and fifth on the day – an altogether magnificent result!

Runner-up in the pairs went to Patsy and Jason Cunningham from Rock, while the individual Supreme Champion Carcass title went to first-time entrant, John Armstrong from Pomeroy.

The winning pair of lambs, with a deadweight of 20.2kg and 21.3kg and both grading as E3, were described by competition judge, Kenny Linton, Agricultural Manager at Dunbia as “a very well-balanced pair of lambs”.

“With good fat cover these lambs are ideal for the retail market,” said Kenny who described the second placed pair as “exceptionally good lambs” and the individual Supreme Champion Carcass as “outstanding”.

The second-placed pair, both of which graded as E3, had a deadweight of 22.5kg and 22.6kg while the individual Supreme Champion Carcass, also grading as E3, had a deadweight of 23.6kg.

Commenting on his success Ian McCaughern said he was absolutely delighted to have retained the ‘pairs’ title.

“That’s two years in a row and three ‘pairs’ titles altogether,” said Ian.

The winning pair of lambs were sired by a Beltex ram purchased by Ian McCaughern from B & D Wylie’s Balbrydie Flock in Angus, Scotland while the second-placed pair were sired by a Beechtree ram purchased from Dungannon-based Colin Barnes’ Beechtree flock.

The Supreme Champion individual carcass was sired by an Artnagullion ram bred by Elizabeth and William McAllister from Kells.

“The top kill-out of 58% was achieved by Patsy and Jason Cunningham with a lamb weighing in at 39kg live and 22.5kg deadweight,” explained competition organiser, Colin Barnes from the Irish Beltex Sheep Breeders Club. “The next best of 57% was achieved on several occasions by Ian McCaughern, Patsy and Jason Cunningham and Jonathan Fenton from Glarryford.”

Ian McCaughern achieved an amazing 86% of E grades with Patsy and Jason Cunningham following closely on 84% on an entry of 26 lambs.

“There was an increased entry this year, a total of 76 lambs, and the figures show that the kill-out percentage increased by 2.5%, moving from R to U grades and again from U to E grades,” continued Colin Barnes. “This means that the E grade carcass lamb with a Beltex influence can potentially be slaughtered at weights as low as 37.5kg, achieving the 21.5 kg hot weight.”

The competition, which was sponsored by Dunbia, Provita and the Beltex Club, had a prize fund totalling £550.

“Congratulations to the winners on the day and a big thank-you to everyone who took part and helped to make the competition a great success,” said Colin Barnes. “I would like to give special thanks to Dunbia and Provita for their valued support.”