Unbeatable Dutch Spotted Hogget Steals the Spotlight at Castlewellan Show!

“Kilcoo Couple Triumphs at Castlewellan Show’s Sheep Inter-Breed Championship”

Orla and Patrick Grant from Kilcoo in Co. Down emerged as the winners of the sheep inter-breed championship at the Castlewellan Show held last weekend. The competition was judged by Archie McGregor, a renowned sheep expert from Stirling, Scotland. McGregor praised the winning hogget ewe, stating that it was an excellent representation of the Dutch Spotted breed, which is relatively new to Ireland. He also commended the overall quality of the sheep entered in the Castlewellan Show 2023.

Dutch Spotted sheep, originating from the Netherlands, are known for being naturally polled and consistently passing on their distinct color markings to their offspring, even in crossbreeding scenarios. These multi-purpose animals are equally valuable in both hill and lowland farming situations. When bred with a terminal sire, they produce lambs with a remarkably high kill-out percentage and excellent meat quality.

Castlewellan Show, held in Co. Down, lived up to its reputation of showcasing top-quality livestock. The supreme beef inter-breed championship title was claimed by the Rodgers family from Dromara. Their elite five-year-old Blonde d’Aquitaine cow, accompanied by a seven-month-old calf, impressed the judges. Victor Chestnutt, a former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union and a respected pedigree livestock breeder, presided over the beef inter-breed classes at the show.

Chestnutt expressed his immediate admiration for the champion cow as soon as it entered the ring. He commended the animal’s excellent conformation and impressive locomotion. He also emphasized the importance of a working cow, highlighting the essence of cattle breeding. The Rodgers family has been breeding Blonde cattle for the past three decades.

During the Castlewellan Show, Chestnutt took the opportunity to underscore the significance of agriculture to the broader economy. He emphasized that despite Northern Ireland’s population of 1.8 million, the farming and food sectors are feeding the equivalent of 10 million people worldwide on a daily basis. He viewed this as a remarkable achievement and encouraged farmers to continue producing food while fulfilling climate change obligations.

In relation to beef, Chestnutt urged local restaurants to support Northern Ireland’s livestock sector by sourcing beef directly from local farms. He acknowledged that many catering outlets already collaborate with processors based in Northern Ireland but encouraged them to go the extra mile and prioritize locally sourced beef.