Beltex in focus at NSA North Sheep

Thursday 30th May 2019
Category: All News,  Features

Beltex genetics play a strong role in the breeding programme at Frankland Farms, the host farm of this year’s NorthSheep event run by the National Sheep Association.

The biennial event, which will this year take place on Wednesday, 5th June, at the Frankland family’s New Hall Farm, near Rathmell, Settle, will act as a showcase for all sectors of the sheep industry and will welcome thousands of visitors. The event will highlight the latest industry technology, equipment and trends via the hundreds of display and exhibit stands and the many seminars will provide a platform for knowledge transfer, open discussion and debate.

The Frankland Farming enterprise is one that has, like many others in the country, faced its fair share of challenges in recent years – with the varied weather of 2018 proving one of the most challenging periods – but thanks to a strong family resilience with the ability to change or adopt new policies and practises along the way, it is standing the test of time and now welcomes the fifth generation to farm the land since its purchase back in 1880.

The 900 acres are spread between three blocks and are home to 120 head of suckler cattle plus 350 replacement females and store cattle, 220 dairy cows and youngstock as well as a 1,200-strong flock of breeding ewes and followers.

The sheep are a mixed bunch, consisting of 350 North of England Mules – many of which were in prizewinning pens when purchased at Bentham and Kendal auctions – and Cheviot Mules which are then covered by Texel rams. With around 200 of the resulting Texel cross Mule ewe lambs retained each year, this cross makes up the majority of the 850 females in the lowland flock, which are then covered by pure Beltex and Beltex cross Texel rams in order to produce lambs for the butchers’ market.

It’s these Beltex-sired lambs that have really helped put the Frankland Farming family’s name on the map, securing many champion and reserve tickets when sold through the local Skipton and Bentham auction marts from May onwards. These lambs, show winners or not, regularly sell up to £115-£120 with some sold in the early summer months of 2018 for £100 or more.

“We’ve been using Beltex for a long time now, kicking on for more than 15 years. They seem to really suit our farm and improve the conformation of our ewes too,” explained Richard, who farms in partnership with his brother Chris, while their mother, Martha, is still integral to the farm. Also involved is Richard’s wife Jackie, their son John, daughter Pam and her husband Thomas, as well as Chris’ wife Ceira and their two young children, Ronan and Orla. “We like to use the pure Beltex for the later-born lambs as you can’t have show lambs without Beltex rams and they’re worth more too – the end value is the most important factor whether they are sold store or finished, added Richard.

As proof of the Frankland family’s ability to adapt and due to the shortage of grass following the extreme heat in the summer of 2018, they sold up to 500 Beltex-sired lambs through the store market, peaking at £98 per head at Skipton in October. With many more passing the £90 mark, these store lambs cashed in to average around £85 weighing 34kg to 36kg. This, said Chris, is something they would consider doing again as it has saved on space and fodder for the other sheep during the winter months.

“It’s a real privilege and honour to host this year’s NorthSheep event. It’s a great opportunity to represent the region and showcase not just the farm but the surrounding area,” said Richard. “We try to keep a well-maintained family farm with high quality stock, none of it is pedigree but there should be something for everyone.”

  • The National Sheep Association’s NorthSheep ever will take place at New Hall Farm, Rathmell, Settle, BD24 0AJ, on Wednesday, 5th June, 2019. Turn south off the A65 south of Giggleswick Railway Station and follow signs thereafter. Entry costs £12, purchasable at the gate (pre-purchase tickets available for groups of 10 or more), with students under 16 years gaining free entry. One adult admitted free of charge of production of an NSA Membership Card.