Many new sheep breeds have entered the country over the past ten to fifteen years but few have created such a sensation as the Beltex. This breed is unique for its very high kill-out percentage and superb carcass quality.
1996 was our first experience of slaughtering Beltex and Beltex-cross lambs at Dawn Meats, Ballyhaunis. The Beltex cross-breed lambs were born to a wide range of dam breeds from hill cross to Texel cross. while the lambs looked small and short compared to other breeds, the carcass weight was stunning, with some lambs’ killing-out up to 65%.
Based on the Euro-grid, the average grade for Beltex-cross lambs was U2 up to 15%. E-grade producers clearly saw the benefits of the Beltex blood both by way of grading and kill-out.
Our lambs were served to selected customers mainly in Belgium and Holland. Initial results were excellent and I feel if we could supply this type of carcass on a consistent basis over a 6-8 month period, then a very favorable premium could be obtained for producers.
The head is generally white in colour but may have black, blue or brown shadings or patches. Colour is irrelevant to quality. The fore face is short and thick.
The neck is thick and short.
Well muscled in shoulder. A wide back and long barrel shaped body
The distinctive characteristic of Beltex sheep is the double-muscled hind quarters, sloping pelvis, low set tail, deep flushed, well rounded and full of meat. The (excessive) hind quarter development when compared to the line of the shoulders gives a wedge shaped appearance.
Sheep should be mobile and capable of natural service. Joints should be straight and sound. Legs are usually white but colour is irrelevant. Feet tight. Pasterns upright. Fine bone structure.
Tight, dense of medium staple length, affording a good protective birth coat to the lamb. A medium to tight fleece is tolerated.
Fine bone is a desirable characteristic.
Teeth are scored on 1 to 5 scale, where 1 is extreme undershot and 5 is extreme overshot, with 3 being perfect. Only animals with a score 2 to 4 are considered acceptable.