UTV’s Rare Breed final episode airs this Thursday

Robbie and David Wilson
Robbie and David Wilson

Rare Breed - A Farming Year was once again the most watched programme in Northern Ireland at 8.30pm last night with over 156,000 viewers tuning in, equating to a 29% share of the entire Northern Ireland viewing audience, more than double that of the next most watched programme at that time.

Rare Breed – A Farming Year comes to a close on Thursday at 8.30pm on UTV where it’s December, and all the farmers are well into winter preparations.

Richard Beattie

Richard Beattie

Everything is on the move: cattle, turkeys, apples and trees, as our farmers batten down the hatches for the winter and some look forward to a welcome break.

Richard Beattie is in Gortin, Co Tyrone hosting his annual turkey sale. It’s the last surviving live turkey sale in Ireland with butchers and members of the public alike descending on the village to purchase their birds for Christmas.

This is where Richard started his business so he’s very attached to the event. As well as over 1,000 birds there are goats, donkeys, ewes and lambs for sale. He says: “It’s always a nice way to end the year.”

In Portadown, Co Armagh, Pat McKeever is seeing the last of his apples off the farm. He’s received a very welcome large order from a cider company in Tipperary and with help from a few other local growers he was able to supply the full order.

Pat McKeever

Pat McKeever

He talks about how he “loves the buzz” at this time of year. He gives the trees a winter wash ahead of them going into dormancy to survive the winter months. And talking of after Christmas Pat remarks: “We’ll get a holiday after Christmas, I don’t know where but there’ll be no apples trees nearby!”

It’s the busiest few weeks of the year for Tony Johnston at his farm near Dundonald, Co Down as he sells hundreds of Christmas trees to the public despite the heavy rain. He’s glad to have a proper end of year to his enterprise where he can “pull the shutters down”. Until then, his wife Penny and two teenage children are helping with the final push. He’s glad the children are involved and appreciate the family business.

Dungannon farmer Joel Kerr is reflecting on his year and future plans as he and his dad Sinton prepare the last of the cattle for winter. It’s unusually late for them to go into the sheds as the ground has remained so dry. They dose the cattle for lice, mites and worms.

Joel and Sinton work together all day every day and he is grateful to his dad for passing on all his knowledge and experience, saying: “He’s still fit to tell me he ‘told me so’ and reminds me he knows better than I do!”

It’s official UFU duties for Victor Chestnutt from Bushmills, Co Antrim this month as he attends a Rural Affairs Committee event at Belfast City Hall, as they plan an education programme for primary school children to teach them about farming and food.

Victor highlights the amazing opportunities in the agri-food industry and how the UFU wants to attract new people into the industry.

The Wilson family in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh bring the series to an end, with the sale of a prize bull to an AI company.

Cindy is sorting through all the documentation laughing as she says: “David has an aversion to paperwork.”

It’s predicted that this bull will produce 4-5,000 calves.

Son Jack is finishing his studies at Queen’s and Robbie shares his future career plans.

He’s started his own dairy enterprise on a neighbouring farm with over 30 cattle.

He’s known from the age of 6 or 7 that he’s always wanted to farm.

He’s hoping his mum will help him with the paperwork, and dad and Jack will help with the milking if he’s not about.

But David has other ideas. He says: “I’ll not be milking any cows!”

UTV’s Mark McFadden narrates the series, sponsored by Dale Farm, Rare Breed – A Farming Year concludes on Thursday, April 11, 2019 at 8.30pm on UTV.

A new series of Rare Breed is already in production and returns in 2020.