The Millennium Bleu is celebrating its 21st birthday this year.
The brainchild of visionary Gavin Shanks, the Millennium Bleu is principally a terminal sire and is bred from crossing a Beltex ram and a Bleu Du Maine Ewe.
The reverse is also acceptable, which according to Bleu du Maine Sheep Northern Ireland Club, “provided a much need unique selling point for the BDM female”.
These sheep possess the carcass of the Beltex, with the stretch, lift and length of the Bleu.
“This blend of carcass and class has produced the ultimate, modern commercial sheep.”
Recently, within Northern Ireland, its popularity is ever-increasing. These rams produce numerous, easily lambed, vigorous and easily finished lambs.”
“You can see the benefits of this cross when used with virtually all commercial ewes. Repeatedly, this cross achieves E & U3 grading at the factory with associated bonus payments. Other hybrids exist, but nothing breeds as true as a Millennium Bleu.”
Potential as breeding females and cross-breeding sires
Furthermore, more recently, the Millennium Bleu has been recognised as an excellent breeding female.
“In this classy female, the characteristics of the Bleu female shine through; milky, maternal and easily lambed.”
The versatility of the Millennium Bleu as a cross-breeding sire and a strong replacement ewe has helped to “safeguard” the Bleu Du Maine pedigree breed’s future.
About Bleu Du Maine.
According to the club, the breed is:
To note, this breed virtually disappeared from Northern Ireland, but now it is “back and growing from strength to strength”.
“A classy, sharp and showy ewe – a viable pedigree option for those with an interest in showing sheep.”
While traditionally farmers did not use it as a terminal sire, the breed can produce lean carcases and excellent conformation, especially when crossed with muscular commercial ewes such as a Texel, Beltex, or Suffolk-crosses.
“It is probably best suited to producing an excellent cross-bred lamb. Its ease of lambing makes it ideal for covering first-time mothers or ewe lambs.”
“The Bleu ram is primarily being promoted as a female producer. Its traits of prolificacy, milkiness, easy lambing and improved conformation make it a highly desirable breed.”
The club claims these time and labour saving qualities all lead to higher profitability.
Strong demand across Northern Ireland
Demand for the pedigree Bleu has been strong, with new breeders starting their own pedigree flocks within Northern Ireland.
Furthermore, new Northern Irish breeders have “contributed greatly” to the growth in society membership throughout the United Kingdom.
“These classy sheep are being seen in places we have never seen them before! The future of this breed is exciting as we continue to establish ourselves as a competitive option in the crowded sheep breed market.”
“As the Bleu Du Maine Northern Ireland Club, we seek to get more people breeding, showing and selling Bleu Du Maine and Millennium Bleu sheep.”
“It is our hope, that as society returns to normal, the Bleu du Maine will be represented at shows throughout Northern Ireland in future.”
Follow the club’s Facebook: Bleu Du Maine Sheep Northern Ireland for further details.
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