Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Breed Growing in Popularity; LIVESTOCK

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Breed Growing in Popularity; LIVESTOCK

Article excerpt

Byline: Ruth Lognonne? 0191 201 6139 ?

THE Beltex breed continues to grow in popularity among North East sheep farmers after top-end lambs achieved up to a 20% premium over other finished lambs last year.

According to Acklington Mart auctioneer, Colin Smith, the majority of Beltex sired lambs are bought by firms supplying the high end of the export, butcher and restaurant trades.

These companies require lean, well-conformed lambs with a high killing out percentage that Beltex cross lambs are able to fulfill.

Mr Smith said: "There is a huge demand for the best quality lambs with the Beltex bred sire now commonly used widely across the region over most breeds.

"At Acklington we have seen a steady increase in Beltex cross lambs over recent years, meeting a growing demand for shapely lambs that do not get over fat."

Northumberland farmer, John Guiry introduced Beltex to his 333-acre traditional upland grazing unit at Glanton, near Alnwick in 2005 and hasn't looked back. In 2012, he achieved a 43% liveweight premium on 38kg to 41kg lambs that he sold from late July at Acklington Market.

"I used to run a flock of 300 Scotch half-bred ewes but over the years have swapped for Beltex crosses," he said.

"In addition, the majority of the flock is now put to the Beltex, with 420 Texel cross and Beltex cross ewes lambed indoors from mid-March to produce finished lambs, and a further 180 Cheviot Mules for breeding ewe replacements.

"We've found that we can stock literally twice the number of Beltex and other continental cross ewes on the same acreage.

"Despite the Beltex sired lambs being lighter at slaughter, their high killing out percentage means we are not only producing more meat per acre, 350kg per acre compared to 275kg, we are also seeing higher returns in the sale ring from buyers that will pay more for a lamb with minimal waste. …

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