Armagh Show: Judge hails quality of sheep turnout

Armagh Show's British Blonde champion was Budore Garnet bred by Eamon McGarry, Dundrod. Included are calf handler Andrew Johnston, and judge Geoffrey Rodgers, Ballynahinch
Armagh Show's British Blonde champion was Budore Garnet bred by Eamon McGarry, Dundrod. Included are calf handler Andrew Johnston, and judge Geoffrey Rodgers, Ballynahinch

There was a tremendous turnout of sheep at this year’s Armagh Show with judging not completed until well after 5.00pm.

But at the end of the day it was the shearling ewe exhibited by Tyrone Suffolk breeders Mervyn and Lesley Liggett that caught the eye of the judge, Bill Dickson.

Catherine Allen from Castlecaufield, relaxes in the sunshine at Armagh Show under the watchful eye of one of the competing cows

Catherine Allen from Castlecaufield, relaxes in the sunshine at Armagh Show under the watchful eye of one of the competing cows

“She is an excellent example of the breed, combining shape and outstanding carcass characteristics,” said Dickson.

“My reserve was the Charollais champion, shown by Diane Christie. The ewe in question was another excellent example of her breed.

“In truth it was a very close-run thing as to who would get the nod for the top prize.”

Dickson expressed tremendous delight at the quality of the sheep turnout for Armagh this year.

“All the breed champions that I saw today were worthy winners.”

The Liggetts run a 90-strong flock of pure-bred Suffolks near Drumquin.

“We bought the gimmer at Carlisle last year,” confirmed Mervyn Liggett.

“She performed very well at Balmoral this year. But today’s inter-breed title is the icing on the cake.

“Our plan is to put the shearling in with the ram this autumn.”

The final parade of cattle in mid afternoon reflected the tremendous turnout of beef and dairy stock at this year’s show.

Judge Billy Robson selected the Simmental line up as the best turned-out breed with the Charolais breeders coming in a close second.

The inter-breed beef championship was won by George McCall, from Markethill, with his 10-year-old Salers cow Babette.

“I imported her from France as a calf,” he said.

“She has won a number of show championships over the years.

“But this is her first inter-breed title.”

Mr McCall runs a herd of 30 pure-bred Salers cows.

He was attracted to the breed because of the animals’ quiet nature, calving ease and their ability to thrive on rougher land, which would not be suited to other imported cattle breeds.

Babette gave birth to a heifer calf four weeks ago, sired by the French bull Valiant.

Meanwhile, in the dairy show ring, the Booths carried the day, winning the dairy inter-breed championship with their excellent cow Clandeboye Shottle Willow.

Bred at Clandeboye Estate in Co Down, this was her second Armagh inter-breed title in succession.

She calved for the fourth time earlier this year and will reappear next at the finals of McLarnon’s Dairy Cow Championship, scheduled for Antrim Show in July.