Northern Ireland plays a pivotal role in saving endangered livestock breeds from extinction

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The critically important role being played by local farmers in saving many of our traditional livestock breeds from extinction has been highlighted by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s Richard Broad.

“We must save the genetic diversity contained within these animals for future generations,” he said.

Farm Minister Michelle McIlveen with the Beef Junior Champion at this years RBST Northern Ireland Show and Sale. The animal, a Beef Shorthorn bull, was exhibited on behalf of breeder Duncan McDowell by brothers William (left) and Matthew McLucas, from Muff in Co Donegal

Farm Minister Michelle McIlveen with the Beef Junior Champion at this years RBST Northern Ireland Show and Sale. The animal, a Beef Shorthorn bull, was exhibited on behalf of breeder Duncan McDowell by brothers William (left) and Matthew McLucas, from Muff in Co Donegal

“All of the modern livestock breeds that feature on our farms today have their origins in the bloodlines of the cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry that predominated decades and even centuries ago.

“But the challenges confronting livestock farming today are fast changing. In essence, we now need a farming industry that is wholly sustainable. And it may well be that geneticists will have to depend on the gene pool within the myriad rare breeds now under threat of extinction to source the traits required to make this a reality.”

Broad is the Trust’s regional field officer for South West England, Northern Ireland and Wales. He judged the pig classes at Saturday’s Rare Breeds Survival Trust Northern Ireland show and sale, held in Gosford Forest Park on the outskirts of Armagh.

“Here in Northern Ireland the Trust has been working to secure the future of breeds native to this part of the world, including Irish Moiled and Dexter cattle,” he said.

“But that is only part of the story. The numbers of breeding females within many of traditional UK breeds has dwindled significantly over the last number of years. However, Northern Ireland remains a critically important region for these animals, from a breeding point of view.

“And this has not come about by accident. The Trust is fully aware, for example, of the importance played by agriculture in the province. Critically, this is reflected in all aspects of the policies enacted by the Stormont Executive.

“Moreover, Trust members throughout the UK know that, in the event of a debilitating livestock disease outbreak, the authorities here in Northern Ireland will ensure that everything is done to minimise its impact. As a consequence, the survival chances of the myriad rare breeds that feature on a growing number of farms across the province are that much greater.”

Last Saturday marked the 30th event hosted by Rare Breeds Survival Trust Northern Ireland. The organisation’s chairman Brian Hunter confirmed a very encouraging entry for all the show and sale classes.

“Despite the poor weather we have received tremendous support from breeder and members of the general public,” he said. “And we can’t ask any more than that.”

Meanwhile, out in the show rings Co Down Beef Shorthorn breeder Duncan McDowell, was having a tremendous day out. He won the inter-breed cattle championship with a choice heifer, described by judge Leslie Hood, from Ballymena as a “tremendous breeding animal.”

The pig inter breed title was won by Brian Kelly, from Lurgan, with a 2yo Gloucester Old Spot sow. Richard Broad, who judged the pig classes, described his champion as “an elite breeding female.”

He added:“She would perform well within any modern pig farming set up.”

The sheep inter breed title was won by the Kerr family, from Lurgan, with their eye catching Teeswater ram while the poultry championship was won by Co Tyrone breeder John Devenney with a pair of Toulouse geese.

PIG SECTION

Inter-breed champion: B Kelly

Inter-breed reserve: E Gregg

Berkshire breed classes

Sow – any age: 1st E Gregg; 2nd E Gregg

British Saddleback classes

Sow – any age: 1st D Ruddock

Senior gilt class: 1st D Ruddock; 2nd D Ruddock

Junior gilt: 1st S Radcliffe

Junior boar: 1st S Radcliffe

Gloucestershire Old Spot classes

Sow – any age: 1st B Kelly

Senior gilt: 1st B Kelly

Junior gilt: 1st B Kelly

Senior boar: 1st B Kelly

Junior boar: 1st B Kelly

Large Black breed classes

Sow – any age: 1st B Kelly

Middle White classes

Sow – any age: 1st E Gregg; 2nd C Fry

Senior gilt: 1st R Stewart; 2nd E Gregg

Junior gilt: 1st E Gregg; 2nd E Gregg

Junior boar: 1st E Gregg

Oxford Sandy and Black breed classes

Sow – any age: 1st J Girvan

Senior gilt: 1st J Girvan; 2nd J Girvan

Boar – born in 2016: 1st J Girvan

CATTLE SECTION

Inter-breed champion: D McDowell

Inter-breed reserve: R Boyle

Inter-breed pairs champion: A Baxter

Inter-bred reserve: D McDowell

TESCO Derby Senior Champion: N Edwards

TESCO Derby Junior Champion: D McDowell

TESCO Derby Calf Champion: D McDowell

Beef Shorthorn classes

Champion D McDowell

Reserve: D McDowell

Bull class: 1st D McDowell

Calf class: 1st D McDowell

Dexter classes

Champion: D Tumelty

Reserve: M & A Bloomer

Champion calf: D Tumelty

Cow – any age: 1st J McCullough; 2nd J & D Verner

Senior heifer: 1st M & A Bloomer; 2nd A & N Bingham

Maiden heifer: 1st Montgomery & McClenaghan; 2nd M & A Blomer

Bull – any age: 1st D Tumelty; 2nd N McIlrath

Heifer calf: 1st D Tumelty; 2nd P Smyth

Bull calf: 1st J McCullough; 2nd D Tumelty

Pairs: 1st M Twadell; 2nd Montgomery & McClenaghan

Irish moiled breed classes

Champion: A Baxter

Reserve: R Boyle

Cow – any age: 1st N Edwards; 2nd R Boyle

Maiden heifer: 1st R Boyle; 2nd V Campbell

Bull – any age: 1st A Baxter; 2nd A Baxter

Heifer calf: 1st E Giboney; 2nd S Smylie

Bull calf: 1st A Baxter

Any other breed classes

Champion: R Boyle

Reserve: D Ruddell

Cow – any age: 1st R Boyle

Heifer class: 1st D Ruddell

Young handlers: 1st Cole Hogg; 2nd Corchennia Dorman

SHEEP SECTION

Inter-breed champion S & J Kerr

Inter-breed reserve: L Hamilton

TESCO Champion: R J McCauley

TESCO Reserve: S & J Kerr

Kerryhill breed classes

Champion: D Wylie

Reserve: D Wylie

Shearling ram: 1st D Wylie

Ewe – 2 shear and above: 1st: D Wylie

Shearling ewe: 1st D Wylie; 2nd D Wylie

Ewe lamb: 1st D Wylie; 2nd D Wylie

Ram lamb: 1st D Wylie; 2nd J Stewart

Group of three: 1st D Wylie

Longwool breed classes

Champion: S & J Kerr

Reserve: S & J Kerr

Ram – any age: 1st S & J Kerr

Ewe -any age: 1st J Kerr; 2nd J Kerr

Ewe lamb: 1st T Cole

Jacob breed classes

Champion: J McGrath

Reserve: P Colhoun

Ram – 2 shear and above: 1st P Colhoun

Shearling ram: 1st J McGrath; 2nd P Colhoun

Ewe – 2 shear and above: 1st P Colhoun; 2nd J Magowan

Shearling ewe: 1st J McGrath; 2nd P Colhoun

Ewe lamb: 1st J McGrath; 2nd P Colhoun

Ram lamb: 1st A Hamilton; 2nd P Colhoun

Hill & Heath breed classes

Champion: A Dickson

Reserve: A Dickson

Ram – any age: 1st A Dickson

Ewe – any age: 1st A Dickson; 2nd A Dickson

Ram lamb: 1st A Dickson

Shortwool breed classes

Champion: L Hamilton

Reserve: T Cole

Ram- any age: 1st T Cole

2nd: L Hamilton

Ewe – any age: 1st L Hamilton

Ewe lamb: 1st B Colhoun; 2nd L Hamilton

Ram lamb: 1st L Hamilton

Any other bred classes

Champion: Cochrane & McCauley

Reserve: Cochrane & McCauley

Ram – any age: 1st Cochrane & McCauley

Ewe – any age: 1st P Kelly; 2nd P Kelly

Ewe lamb: 1st P Kelly; 2nd P Kelly

Ram lamb: 1st Cochrane & McCauley

Ram lamb challenge: 1st L Hamilton; 2nd R J McCauley

Ewe lamb challenge: 1st P & S Colhoun; 2nd R J McCauley

POULTRY SECTION

Champion: John Devenney – Toulose Pair

Reserve: Malcolm Davis – Pair Light Sussex females

Best Rare Breed: Sumatra – J & R Hughes