UTV’S Rare Breed success continues

Tony Johnston
Tony Johnston

Rare Breed - A Farming Year was once again the most watched programme in Northern Ireland at 8.30pm last Thursday with over 150,000 viewers tuning in, equating to a 28% share of the entire NI viewing audience, more than double that of the next most watched programme at that time.

Rare Breed – A Farming Year continues tomorrow night (Thursday) at 8.30pm UTV where it’s November and cattle dominate the episode.

Between TB tests, sales and shelters, our farmers are kept very busy. And of course we can’t forget Tony Johnston in his busiest month, cutting trees night and day for the busy Christmas trade ahead.

Victor Chestnutt from Bushmills is having his herd tested for TB. He’s very passionate about controlling the spread of the disease, both in a personal capacity as a farmer but also as an Ulster Farmers’ Union official.

He highlights how other jurisdictions have tackled the problem. Whilst badgers are known carriers of bovine TB, he points out, “TB is the enemy here, not the badger.”

Dungannon farmer Joel Kerr is hosting an event at a Co. Down restaurant, where he’s educating diners about beef and sustainable farming. He uses the different cuts of meat from a single cow from the farm to feed the entire restaurant of 50 people to demonstrate his point.

It’s an exciting day in Newtownards for Gary Hanna and Iain Colville who are bringing their Aberdeen Angus herd into their brand new shed for the winter. They are both delighted that it’s built on their land, so there’s no need for transportation, and it’s easier to feed the herd. “We just have to pay for the damn thing,” jokes Iain. Later in the programme they attend the Beef and Lamb Championships at the EIKON exhibition centre for the first time, and get a top prize for two of their lambs.

Tony Johnston is cutting trees. The end of November is the busiest of the year for him. He says it’s a logistical nightmare managing trees, machinery and equipment. He said: “It’s always fraught, there are sleepless nights, lots of headaches and long hours.” But he does say it’s a mixed blessing as they are lucky to have a yearly product that finishes just before Christmas. He needs to have 700 trees alone for the busiest weekend of the year in December.

Richard Beattie from Tyrone is also at the EIKON Centre at the Beef and Lamb Championship sale. He has been asked to auctioneer the event so it’s a big honour for him but there’s pressure with that to make sure it’s a success. He’s happy with the big crowd that attended and over £150,000 of animals sold in a few hours.

UTV’s Mark McFadden narrates the series, sponsored by Dale Farm, Rare Breed – A Farming Year continues on Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 8.30pm on UTV.