Cunninghams take it to the next level with Beltex ‘pairs’ title win

Jason Cunningham, second right, Champion Pair in the Beltex Cross-bred Sheep Carcass Competition with, from left, competition judge, Kenny Linton, Dunbia, Colin Barnes and Seamus Kelly, Irish Beltex Sheep Breeders Club and Kieran Donnelly, Provita.
Jason Cunningham, second right, Champion Pair in the Beltex Cross-bred Sheep Carcass Competition with, from left, competition judge, Kenny Linton, Dunbia, Colin Barnes and Seamus Kelly, Irish Beltex Sheep Breeders Club and Kieran Donnelly, Provita.

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 on Friday, July 27.

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.

Pictured at the Irish Beltex Sheep Breeders Club annual Beltex Cross-bred Sheep Carcass Competition are, from left, Colin Barnes, John Rogers, Emmett, Carten, Jason Cunningham, Ian McCaughern, Jonathan Fenton and Seamus Kelly.

Pictured at the Irish Beltex Sheep Breeders Club annual Beltex Cross-bred Sheep Carcass Competition are, from left, Colin Barnes, John Rogers, Emmett, Carten, Jason Cunningham, Ian McCaughern, Jonathan Fenton and Seamus Kelly.

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% 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% with best performances reaching 58%,” explained competition organiser, Colin Barnes. “Given that 98% 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% and 58%.

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% and 56%.

Stephen Glenn, James Mullen and James Carten also had lambs achieving ‘E’ Grades with 55% to 57% 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,” said Colin Barnes.

“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, 27th August.

Beltex Cross-bred Sheep Carcass Competition Results:

Pairs Competition Winner:

Patsy and Jason Cunningham, Rock

Individual Carcass Winner:

Ian McCaughern, Rasharkin.