Father and son farming team in cracking form again with prime lambs hat-trick

Richard and Mark Ireland, right, with their latest champion Beltex pen at Skipton, joined by, from left, CCMs Andrew Fisher and judge Paul Watson.
Richard and Mark Ireland, right, with their latest champion Beltex pen at Skipton, joined by, from left, CCMs Andrew Fisher and judge Paul Watson.
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A Ribble Valley father and son were in sparkling form again when landing a hat-trick of consecutive monthly prime lamb championships at the November "Guy Fawkes Day" show and sale.

Like their previous winners in September and October, the latest victorious pen of five Beltex-cross were all by the highly regarded Ireland stock tup, Shamrock Beast, the first ram they bred in their pedigree Beltex flock, established three years ago.

The immaculately presented 45kg pen topped both the day’s gross and by-weight prices when selling for £124 per head, or 275.6p/kg, to regular Red Rose retail customer Alan Beecroft, of Countrystyle Meats Farm Shop and Restaurant in Lancaster Leisure Park.

The Irelands, whose main breed is the Heys Texel flock, say they are now looking forward to defending their first-ever prime lamb supreme championship coup at Skipton’s annual Christmas primestock highlight last year, when the champion pair sold for a heady £520 each.

The high profile festive fixture takes place this year on Sunday, November 25th, and they will be entering two top-notch Beltex-cross pairs in the untrimmed lamb show classes, plus three more in the lamb carcase competition. All are again by Shamrock Beast, whose reputation for producing first-class butchers’ lambs is improving in leaps and bounds.

The latest show classes formed part of the weekly Monday prime sheep sale, when another solid entry of 4,197 head were sold, with the increased turnout of 3,762 lambs creeping back topside of 170p/kg, a fair achievement given that over a third of the lambs scaled in at 46kg or more, producing a whopping SQQ average of 176.1p/kg. With plenty of other three-figure and 240p/kg-plus Continental pens, the overall per head average was £75.55.

As anticipated, handy weight 37-41kg export lambs were significantly dearer on the week, with a nice skinned Texel lamb making 190-210p/kg and commercial types 175-190p/kg. While heavy lambs weighing 47kg+ were similar on price, hill-bred entries again met a nice trade, with Mule and horned lambed both maintaining the previous week’s improved trade.

Also penned for sale were 433 cast sheep. Cull ewes sold to a top of £96.50 per head for a Texel pen from Stephen Holt, of Queensbury, averaging £42.66. Cast rams averaged £54.88.