This year’s Omagh Show hosted the first competitive courses held in Northern Ireland for Valais Blacknose sheep.
The breed has its origins in Switzerland with the first import arriving in this part of the world two years ago. They have been dubbed the cuddest sheep in the world.
“But they have a very important role to play in the business,” said Richard Beattie, breeder at Co. Tyrone.
When used for crossbreeding purposes, the Valais Blacknose sheep can produce lambs with enormous growth potential.
A mature Valais Blacknose ram weighs approximately 120 kg – this is twice the size of the breeding stock produced by most of the other breeds of sheep currently present in the UK.
Over 1,000 sheep have been registered for Omagh this year.
“This is an attendance record for the event,” confirmed the chairman of the exhibition committee, Thomas Harkin.
Yes, we have a number of new classes this year. But the numbers were also boosted by the fact that we had so many additional sheep across all breeds. “
The Sheep Inter-Breed Championship was won by the McAllister family with their eye-catching Charollais ewe.
A few very successful weeks for the animal in question. The ewe won the Charollais breed championship at this year’s Balmoral Show and then won the Sheep Inter-Breed title at Ballymena.
“The sheep is in great shape right now,” said William McAllister.
“We recently sold her daughter in Worcester for 1,700 gns. The animal in question was a gimmer, born in 2017.
“Our plan is to have the sheep participate in a number of exhibitions that will take place over the next few weeks.”
Crossbreed judge David Lowry, from Lanark, Scotland, described his champion as a prime example of the Charollais breed.
“She has a lot of character and should continue to produce champions of the future,” he said.
The Devine family, from Artigarvan in northern County Tyrone, carried the day through the arenas. They won the Beef Inter-Breed Championship and the Champion of Championship Class at the event with their two-year-old Charolais heifer, Brownhill Mo.
Scottish judge Alistair Fletcher was tasked with choosing between the beef and dairy champions during the final competition class of the day. After much deliberation, he gave the Charolais a boost.
“My champion has a huge presence,” he said.
“She just fills the eye. I was very impressed with her size and the fact that she can move so well is a bonus.
The heifer has a nice topline. She has enormous potential as a breeding animal.
According to Ritchie Devine, the heifer might just be calf.
“She was inseminated shortly after this year’s Balmoral Show. Our plan is to reproduce it over the next few years.
The inter-breed dairy championship at Omagh was won by William Hunter of Castlederg with his impressive third calf Lisnacloon Saloon Amy.
Raised at home, the Holstein cow currently gives 49L of milk per day. The Reserve Inter-Breed title went to the McLean family of Donaghmore making it a Co. Tyrone 1: 2 in the dairy championship at Omagh 2018.