A local Limousin breeder has achieved a Northern Ireland record price at the British Limousin Society’s regional show and sale, held at Ballymena Mart.

The May Day sale attracted a large crowd who witnessed a 98 per cent clearance with 39 bulls traded to level at £5,230, an increase of £1,391 on last year’s sale.

Claiming the headlines in both the show and sale rings was the much-admired Slieve Sportyman bred by the father and son team of John and Shane McGeehan from Fivemiletown.

This 19-month-old bull caught the eye of Scottish judge Blair Duffton to claim the intermediate, male and supreme overall championship plaudits generously sponsored by Steele Farm Supplies.

Mr Duffton who runs a 750-cow commercial suckler enterprise at Huntly in Aberdeenshire, praised the quality of Limousin cattle on parade.

“It has been an impressive show, with good quality bulls at the top end of every class. The overall champion is a tremendous well-balanced bull. He is very correct, has a great back-end, and shows great potential.”

Shattering the breed’s previous record for a bull sold at auction in Northern Ireland, Slieve Sportyman also sets a new herd record for the McGeehan’s. Carrying F94L and Q204X myostatin genes, he was sired by the 32,000gns Ampertaine Elgin, and is out of a home-bred dam by the 50,000gns Wilodge Cereberus.

His dam Slieve Jen is one of the most prolific ET donor cows in the herd, breeding many high-priced progeny. Her first son Slieve Nando sold at Carlisle for 11,000gns.

After spirited bidding he came under the gavel of auctioneer Graham Loughrey, selling to pedigree and commercial herd owner Gareth Corrie from Newtownards.

Second highest bid of the day 11,000gns, was paid to first-time exhibitors Sean and Anita McKeown from Toomebridge, for the July 2021 born Seanita Superhero. Sired by the 11,000gns Ampertaine Nugent, he is the result of an embryo from Carmorn Mammamia gifted by Anita’s father, Francis McAuley.

Next best at 10,000gn was Rahoney Shadrach who picked up the senior, reserve male and reserve supreme championship awards. Bred by Howard McFarland, Trillick, he is by the 35,000gns Carlisle intermediate and supreme champion (2018) Ampertaine Majestic. His dam Rahoney Jem is a daughter of the home-bred 23,000gns Rahoney Geoffrey, reserve overall champion at Carlisle in 2013. This August 2021 bull has two copies of the F94L gene, and was snapped up by Ross Millar from Newtownstewart, County Tyrone.

Judge Blair Duffton added: “The reserve champion is another fine example of the breed. He is a strong, well-balanced bull with a tremendous body and backend, and has the potential to breed very good cross-bred calves.”

Cranmoney Ted, the first bull to sell from Mark and Mairead McCartan’s Crossgar-based herd, attracted a bid of 6,500gns. He has F94L and Q204X genes and sold to G Hackett, Clogher.

Female trade peaked at 5,500gns, paid to Howard McFarland for the female champion Rahoney Serena. Sired by Whinfellpark Lomu, she was born in December 2021, and is out of a home-bred dam by Plumtree Fantastic. This heifer was snapped up by Gareth Corrie for his Drumhilla Herd.