March 2018

March 17, 2018 Charolais continue the upward trend at Dungannon

There was great trade for Charolais at the Northern Ireland Charolais Club sale at Dungannon on Friday 16 March. The sale which had been postponed due to the bad weather at the beginning of the month, saw an 86% clearance, a 9% increase on last year. The 38 bulls averaged £3,285 which was up from last year’s equivalent by £367 for five more sold.

Coolnaslee Manager Sold 5,600gns

Leading the pack at 5,600gns and 5,000gns respectively were a couple of crackers from Jonathan Crawford, Maghera, Co Derry. The first Coolnaslee Manager, had been tapped out third in his class at the pre-sale show and caught the eye of O Jeffers, Cookstown, Co Tyrone. The August 2016-born Manager is sired by the 10,000gns Carlisle supreme champion Ratoary Ferguson, while his dam is the 30,000gns Dingle Hofmeister daughter Edenhurst Hrh, who was purchased from the Edenhurst dispersal in October 2015 for 8,000gns.

Reserve Junior Champion Coolnaslee Minto Sold 5,000gns

Mr Crawford’s 5,000gns bull was the reserve junior champion Coolnaslee Minto. Minto also boasts an impressive pedigree, being a son of 10,000gns Carlisle intermediate champion and Clogher show intermediate champion Ratoary Icebreaker and the 10,000gns Blelack Babe, who goes back to the 25,000gns Perth supreme champion and Royal Show junior male champion Thrunton Socrates. C Shaw, Carryduff, Belfast was the purchaser of this 15-month-old lad.

Reserve Overall Champion Derryharney Mustang Sold 4,800gns

Two bulls secured a price of 4,800gns a piece and both came from Harold Stubbs & Alan Burleigh, Crummy, Co Fermanagh, who went on to sell a total of four to average £4,252.50. First up was the reserve supreme and reserve senior champion Derryharney Mustang, a 19-month-old who was the first to be purchased by the pre-sale judge Terry Coghill, on behalf of Mr Patterson, Feltigar, Orkney. The breeding here includes the 10,000gns Perth supreme champion Thrunton Bonjovi and the Balmoral Show supreme champion Goldies Carnival daughter Derryharney Hazel.

Lot 30 Derryharney Muncher Sold 4,800gns

The next Stubbs and Burleigh consignment which also secured a 4,800gns bid was the class winning, September 2016-born Derryharney Muncher. Muncher who is sired by the proven high performing, short gestation and easy calving Blelack Digger is out of Derryharney Jazzystar, who in turn is sired by the Fintona male champion Derryharney Happyharry. He heads on to Stranocum, Co Antrim, to work for John McHenry.

J Smith, Randalstown, Co Antrim, was the next to snap up one of the Stubbs and Burleigh lots. The 18-month old Derryharney Mrmotivator, a son of the 22,000gns Newhouse Bigal and Thrunton Bonjovi daughter Derryharney Ipad, secured a bid of 3,600gns.

Selling in a 4,400gns deal to ED Sherrard, Belfast, Co Down, was a blue ticket winner from Will Short, Beragh, Co Tyrone. Woodpark Mcbeth is a November 2016-born son of the 14,000gns Goldies Usher
and Woodpark Idele, a daughter of the 9,500gns Stirling reserve senior champion Woodpark Gregg.

Supreme Champion Carrgene Muckian Sold 4,200gns

After his earlier purchase of the reserve champion, pre-sale show Judge Terry Coghill was again prepared to back up his judgement when he purchased the supreme champion Carrgene Muckian on behalf of Mr Featter, Westray, Orkney. An August 2016-born son of the Irish-bred Crossmolina Euro and the homebred Carrgene Gemma, a Major daughter, Muckian had also been awarded the overall male championship and senior male champion rosettes earlier in the day and secured a 4,200gns bid for breeder and consigner Eugene Muckian, Silverbridge, Co Down.

Next in the trade stakes at 3,700gns was the 16-month-old Dartonhall Milan, who is sired by the 12,000gns Maerdy Fiend. An entry from John Erskine, Killylea, Co Armagh, Milan’s dam is the 7,000gns Stirling female champion Vexour Galina, who goes back to the 30,000gns Dingle Hofmeister, he was purchased by J Martin, Staramore, Co Armagh.

Just behind at 3,600gns was an entry from Balfour Brothers, Bellanaleck, Co Fermanagh, who was purchased by ST Scott, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. The October 2016-born Clonatrig Max is sired by Doonally New and out of Blelack Digger daughter Clonatrig Ida.

Lot 8 Cunnsallagh Macduff Class 1 Winner

Two bulls were knocked down at 3,500gns a piece with the first coming from Vincent Cunningham, Dromore, Co Down. Class winner Cunnsallagh Macduff is by the well-known AI sire Indurain, while the dam is Cunnsallagh Edna, a cow by the Balmoral Show M&S Beef interbreed winner Sandelford Bergkamp. The 20-month-old Macduff goes home to work in Stewartstown, Co Tyrone for K Watters.

Matching the 3,500gns price tag was the September 2016-born Killadeas Magna, who was tapped out second in his class, for breeders and exhibitors Stuart and David Bothwell, Ballina Mallard, Co Fermanagh. A Hillan, Broughshane, Co Antrim, was the man who forked out the cash for this son of the 16,000gns Stirling supreme champion Blackford Dynamite and Killadeas Bea, a daughter of the Omagh Show supreme champion and Royal Ulster Show reserve supreme champion Derrygiff Mills.

Following on at 3,400gns was Moorlough Marco. G Cutler of Florencecourt, was the successful bidder of this yellow-ticket winner and took him home to his Co Fermanagh-based unit. This 15-month-old lad from John McBride, Strabane, Co Tyrone, is by the 10,000gns Portadown supreme champion Moorlough Palo, while the dam is the Doonally New-sired Moorlough Hannah.

Another from John McBride was the first to secure the next highest price of 3,200gns. Moorlough Mecca, a 16-month-old, sired by the 12,000gns Maerdy Fiend and out of Moorlough Isla, who goes back to the 16,000gns Stirling junior champion and Caithness Show supreme champion Clyth Diplomat, was purchased by George Ewart, Killylea, Co Armagh.

The second to be knocked down at 3,200gns was a yellow-ticket winning entry from the aforementioned Will Short. Woodpark Minstrel, a 21-month-old who was purchased by S Campbell, Bellaghy, Co Derry, is a 2007-born son of the 19,000gns Doune and Dunblane champion Corrie Alan bred out of Woodpark Guinevere, a Begonia daughter.

A trio of bulls sold for the next highest price of 3,100gns and the first was Tullyconnaught Mel. The breeding here includes the 18,000gns Thrunton Fairfax on to the home-bred Tullyconnaught Daisy, who goes back to the 15,000gns Carlisle supreme champion Burradon Talisman. The September 2016-born Mel was another purchased by judge Terry Coghill, this time for Mr Ritch, Sandwick, Orkney from Mr James Pyers, Corbet, Co Down.

Also hitting the 3,100gns price tag was William Whyte’s Innisrush Magic from Portglenone, Co Antrim. Another Blelack Digger son this time out of Innisrush Gem, a daughter of the 55,000gns Balmoral Show interbreed champion Sportsmans Columbo, this September 2016-born lad caught the eye of Michael Mullin, Dungannon, Co Tyrone.

Another to secure 3,100gns when knocked down to Michael Quinn, Cookstown, Co Tyrone, was the 16-month-old Glenramble Mark, an entry from Thomas O’Neill, Claudy, Co Derry. Mark is sired by the 12,000gns Carlisle reserve senior champion Wesley Equinox, while the dam is the Dromiskin Viceroy-sired Glenramble Honey.

Another trio secured matching price tags, this time at 3,000gns a piece. Derryharney Murray from the above-mentioned Harold Stubbs and grandson Alan Burleigh was the first, and was purchased by G Campbell, Dungannon, Co Tyrone. Murray is bred from Thrunton Bonjovi daughter Derryharney Imlucky, sired by Goldies Eddy and was 17-month-old on the day of sale.

The second 3,000gns bull was the October 2016-born Drumacritten Marcus, who goes home to work in Downpatrick, Co Down, for his new owner C Montgomery. Marcus is sired by the 16,000gns Stirling junior champion and Caithness Show supreme champion Clyth Diplomat, is out of Drumacritten Angel, a Lisnalurg Ignot daughter and secured a yellow rosette for vendor George Nelson, Rosslea, Co Fermanagh.

Matching the 3,000gns price tag was a class winner from the O’Kane Bros of Lower Ovill, Co Derry. Ovill Mahon who is a 16-month-old lad out of the 55,000gns Balmoral Show interbreed champion Sportsmans Columbo daughter Ovill Gwynne, and sired by the home-bred Ovill Instant went home with an undisclosed bidder.

Female Champion Brogher Mygirl Sold 3,100gns

The female section was topped by the female champion at 3,100gns. The 21-month-old Brogher Mygirl from Mr T Phair, Bellanaleck, Co Fermanagh was purchased by Andrew Dunne, Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, for his 2014-established Charolais herd. Mygirl is another sired by Blelack Digger and out of the Lyonsdemesne Tzar daughter Brogher Fancygirl.

Averages 38 bulls £3,285, 2 heifers £2,250
Auctioneers: Dungannon Farmers Mart
Sponsor: Danske Bank
Judge: Terry Coghill, Birsay, Orkney


March 10, 2018 Modern Charolais meets market demands

Neil with his sister Alison Mayes

With hard work, and a commitment to producing quality home grown meat, the Blyth family from Hartlepool has seen demand for their beef and lamb though their butcher’s shops grow year on year. We talk to them to find out the secret behind their success.

Neil Blyth, is part of a family enterprise that currently runs two successful butcher’s shops in Hartlepool as well as a 500-acre beef, sheep and arable enterprise at Middleton House Farm.

“There’s no secret to our success,” says Neil. “Dad started with his first shop in the 1980’s, and it’s been a lot of hard work to get where we are today. To succeed, we’ve needed to be aware of what our customers want, and we’ve changed our farming methods to meet these. Obviously, we’re in a position where we have an integrated business, and this gives us valuable insight into our end consumer as well as an opportunity to adapt to ensure market demand.

“It’s been an important selling point, and a principle of our business, to produce the beef and lamb that we sell. That way we have the control over the product. We’ve built our business on supplying locally produced, home grown, quality meat.

“We’ve tried different breeds over the years in order to get the most out of a carcase – and supply quality meat to our shops. We need to ensure we have good cover on the carcase to enable us to hang it for up to 28 days. Our aim, as a butchery business, is to use as much of the carcase as possible, from the inexpensive cuts to the high-end sirloin steaks, so quality throughout is vital if we want to meet the needs of all our customers.”

The farm currently produces three to four beef animals a week for their shops and, with changing tastes, Neil has found the modern Charolais to be the best suited for his marketplace.

“The carcase we’re currently producing for our trade is smaller than many years ago, but it makes up for this with its efficiency. These animals are very cost effective from both a farm business perspective, and from shop sales.”

Neil’s cattle are reared on a suckler system, which he believes produces the best meat for the market. “It’s such a natural system, and we strive to produce all the feed on our farm so we’re self-sufficient. This year, we’ve grown about 150 acres of crops – oats, barley, wheat and beans to get some home-grown protein. We’ve also rotated with rye and brassicas to ensure a range of alternative forages extending our grazing season. We feed a TMR throughout the winter months to ensure good growth, and work with a nutritionist to ensure a balanced and nutritious ration.

“We calve 80% of our herd in the spring to utilise grazed grass, and give the cows and calves an environment in which they thrive. The 350-head herd is made up of Charolais, Saler and Simmental crosses, which are put to our homebred Charolais bulls.”  Neil AI’s all the heifers, and calves them down at two years old.

“We keep all the resultant calves, and regularly weigh the animals to assess gains and conformation. What’s important, for our business specifically, is ensuring consistency, and we get this with the Charolais.

“We aim to finish the heifers at 320-380kg deadweight, and the steers at 350-400kg deadweight. The impressive thing about these Charolais crosses is their ability to convert feed to growth and the ability to produce a high yielding -quality carcase for the market. Having sufficient cover has become even more crucial for our business, as we’ve recently invested in a dry aging cabinet, where the fat cover is vital to encase the meat for a minimum of 28 days. Without it, the meat would lose its succulence and our sales would suffer.

“From experience I believe the Charolais is suited to many systems, and the modern breed offers farmers an opportunity to produce cost-effective beef for the current marketplace. As a farmer, you want to rear high quality, healthy animals that grow well and sell well – the Charolais does this.

“Looking ahead I’d like to see suckler beef branded in the UK as I feel this offers greater marketing opportunities, and potentially a price premium. The retail trade should recognise different rearing systems, and price accordingly. Suckler beef is reared predominately on a non-intensive grass-based system, and I believe this is what the consumer wants. I think we could see a change in payments – with bonuses for marbling scores, as well as for grades.

“I’m very confident about the future demand for quality UK-produced red meat – we can produce it so efficiently in the UK and to a world class quality,” he concludes. “I believe consumers are becoming more and more aware of the food they eat, and how it’s produced, and that this offers great opportunities for the future.”


March 2, 2018 Improvement in herds genetics across the UK are recognised by the Harman awards

The Harman awards were Presented by Society Vice-chairman and award founder Ben Harman at the Stirling sale on Tuesday 20th February, who commented “The Self Replacing Index (SRI) is one of the key measures of genetic progress in British Charolais Cattle, and the Harman awards recognise those herds with the greatest % age improvement in SRI over the previous 12-month period.  I am delighted that such well-established herds have won the awards in each region this year, between them, the four herds boast 131 years of experience breeding British Charolais.  This demonstrates that the inclusion of performance data can enhance even the most experienced breeders’ businesses.”

“The requirement for accurately recorded performance data is driven by our customers, the commercial beef producers, who recognise the extra value of Charolais sired cattle in the store markets and abattoirs the length and breadth of the UK.  Breedplan performance data helps our customers identify the type of Charolais which best suit their needs, this data combined with visual assessment of potential bulls ensures that the crossing men can choose bulls which will give them the maximum return for their enterprises. This in turn ensures that those customers will return time and again to buy Charolais which have been proven in study after study to outperform all other breeds as a terminal sire.”

Fallenich herd award – Ben Harman & Andrew Hornall

The overall and Scottish regional winner was the 20-cow-strong, Stirling based Falleninch herd of Andrew Hornall, which showed an improvement of +9.8 on SRI in the past 12 months, ending the year on an average of +41.

The Falleninch herd, which was established in 1973, joined the Breedplan scheme when it was adopted by the society in 2007, recognising the importance recording would have to the improvement of the herd.

Andrew, a 3rd generation Charolais breeder who farms 300 acres of permanent grass across two holdings, grazes 250 commercial cattle per year on a New Zealand-style grass grazing system and the high-quality beef produced supplies his Falleninch Farm butchery business. His main focus is on strong maternal traits which ensures that his Falleninch Herd is a regular and successful exhibitor at shows and sales.

Andrew said “I am really pleased to be awarded the top spot in this great competition, which through its selection process helps to enhance the integrity of the Charolais breed. Our purchase of Fairway Jefferson has helped us achieve our improvement this year and our customers seem to think so to, as his first son sold for 12,000gns at Stirling last week.”

Oakchurch herd award – Mia Price, Ben Harman & Jeremy Price

Runners-up were the English regional winners Jeremy, Ala Price, Mia and Ryan Price with a yearly SRI Improvement of +9.3 and a total average of +59 for their Herefordshire herd. The Price’s Oakchurch herd is comprised of 20 cows with females kept as replacements and bulls sold for breeding.

In order to monitor performance, Jeremy started recording as soon as he set up the herd. He says “I find if you enter accurate data, you get useful information back. People always want an idea of what they are buying, and performance recording really helps with that.”

Mr Price focuses on growth rates and says that calving ease is essential with the commercial producer in mind. He says “We aim for cows that give birth unassisted, have a short gestation period, do not suffer losses and produce calves with good growth rates and conformation. At the same time, we are also aiming for a bit more fat depth.”

Coolnaslee herd award – Jonathan Crawford, Ben Harman and Stuart Wilson

Heading up the Northern Ireland pack was the Coolnaslee herd of Jonathan Crawford, whose father the late Gilbert Crawford established the Charolais herd in 1993. Managed by Stuart Wilson the Maghera-based unit has shown a twelve-month improvement of +8.2 and their total average is +39.7.

Also joining Breedplan in 2007 Gilbert, who was always keeping an eye out for new opportunities to develop his herd, knew how to push the boundaries, with others benefiting from his experience and also working to keep pace and move with the times.

Jonathan is keen to keep moving with the herds progress and commented “I am very proud to accept this award on behalf of our herd. Breedplan is a great system and it shows our buyers just what their getting when the purchase a Coolnaslee bull. The purchase of the Stirling reserve champion Balthayock Justice has really made a difference to our calving ease figures. He now has 50 progeny on the ground and a calving ease score of +23.4 which puts him in the top 1% for the breed.”

Maerdy herd award – Ben Harman & Esmor Evans

A SRI Improvement of +7.1 and a total average of +39.9 saw Esmor Evans’ Flintshire-based Maerdy herd awarded winners of the Welsh region. The 1973 established herd who recently announced the £25,000 sale of the 18-month-old Maerdy Morwr, also joined Breedplan early on and has moved from strength to strength with their 140-cow pedigree herd based on a 1000ft hill farm.

Esmor said “We have been striving for an improvement in the calving figures which are important to us as breeders and also to our customers, both pedigree and commercial. The influence of Blelack Fabulous, whose four son’s averaged just over £11,000 at Stirling, has help us achieve this improvement in calving ease and his progeny are also scanning well with good muscle area. Our other stock bull, the French-bred Maerdy Gouverneur has also proved to be a very good calver and six of the eight bulls we sold last week were by these two influential sires”.


March 1, 2018 £2,000 increase on Charolais average at Aberdeen

A combination of pedigree and commercial interest saw a solid trade of Charolais bulls at the Royal Northern Agricultural Society Spring Show on Wednesday 28 February. Bidding peaked at 8,200gns and 11 lots sold to an average of £6,252, a massive £2,082 up on last year’s trade.

Topping the Charolais lots at 8,200gns, was C and E McCombie’s Auchincrieve Montreal from Huntly, Aberdeenshire, whose herd also saw the best average of the day at £7,070 with two more high priced lots finding new homes. Montreal, an April 2016-born son of Olrig Highwayman and the Sang-D’or-sired Auchincrieve Fiona, was purchased by E Innes and Son, Ballindalloch, Banffshire.

Commanding a 6,200gns bid from Haddo House, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, was the red-ticket-winner Auchincrieve Mclovin. This 21-month-old entry from the same home as Montreal is also sired by Olrig Highwayman, his dam is the 38,000gns Perth reserve junior champion Goldies Champion daughter Harviestoun Golddust.

The reserve champion Kinclune Marco from JA Wilson and Sons, Glenkindie, Aberdeenshire, was next in the trade stakes and the first of two to sell for 8,000gns. Sired by the 20,000gns Carlisle supreme champion Beechtree George and out of Kinclune Gemma, a Maerdy Boom daughter, the 22-month-old Marco stayed local when purchased by G Wilson and Son, Glenkindle, Aberdeenshire.

The Wilson’s, who sold a total of three to average £6,125 had another Beechtree George son in the money, this time out of the home-bred 20,000gns Perth supreme champion Thrunton Crownprince daughter Kinclune Gloriana. The July 2016-born Kinclune Montgomery attracted a 5,000gns bid from C Addison, Ellon, Aberdeenshire.

The second to be knocked down at 8,000gns, was the June 2016-born Tonley Mahez who had been awarded a yellow ticket earlier in the day at the pre-sale show, for breeders and exhibitors NA Wattie, Alford, Aberdeenshire. C Smith, Dunecht, Westhill, was the man with his hand in the air when the hammer came down on the Blelack Forbes-sired Mahez, bred out of the 15,000gns Goldies Dynamite daughter Blelack Glamourpuss.

Two bulls came under the hammer for 5,800gns with the first being the yellow ticket winner and March 2016-born Auchincrieve Maximus, consigned by the aforementioned C and E McCombie. He is no stranger to the show ring having been awarded second prize calf at Stars of the Future in November. Another by Olrig Highwayman and from Blelack Thelma who in turn is sired by the 15,000gns Maerdy Oxo, he was purchased by Firm of AAY, Thurso, Caithness.

The second call of 5,800gns was paid by M and I Steel, Banchory, Kincardineshire, for the 20-month-old Bonnykelly Mark, who was tapped out second in his class earlier in the day. Mark who is sired by the 10,000gns Carlisle reserve intermediate champion Gretnahouse Ivory and out of Bonnykelly Freda who goes back to the New Deer Show champion Newhouse Challanger, was bred and exhibited by R Leggat, New Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire.

The Steel’s were in a buying mood and snapped up another lot from Mr Leggat for 5,000gns, this time the class winning Bonnykelly Magnum. Magnum who was crowned champion at the New Deer show at just 13 months old, is a 20-month-old son of Kersknowe Clansman and Bonnykelly Fern, a daughter of New Deer Show champion Newhouse Challanger.

5,000gns Champion – Foundland Magistrate

The third lot to cash in a 5000gns was the day’s champion from AN Reid, Hill of Logie, Aberdeenshire. Purchased by F and J Whyte, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Foundland Magistrate who boasts some top-class pedigree breeding behind him is sired by the 16,000gns Perth Junior Champion Clyth Diplomat, who has previously bred sons to 16,000gns. His dam line is no less impressive, out of Foundland Helen who has bred bulls to 7,500gns, her sire being the 26,000gns Maerdy Amontillado who has bred a Highland Show Champion and her grandsire is the 25,000gns Highland Show champion Maerdy Impeccable.

Averages: 11 bulls £6,252
Auctioneers: Aberdeen and Northern Marts