James and Nelson Alexander are synonymous with high-end livestock and have built up a big following of their livestock enterprise located just outside Randalstown, Co Antrim.

The model is simple - source the best type of animals they can from across Ireland north and south, put the heifers in-calf to top-quality easy-calving Limousin bulls and sell the heifers on to suckler farmers and fatstock producers.

With over 1,100 heifers to pick from, the selection on offer brings a lot of customers to the yard every year.

On-farm sale

Having held farm open days on the farm in March for the last number of years, this year saw the Alexander family set up a mart ring in one of the sheds on the farm to hold an on-farm sale.

COVID-19 restricted numbers around the ring on the day, but this was made up for by a lively online bidding presence.

On the day, 98 heifers sold, mainly Belgian Blue and Belgiian Blue crosses, with prices ranging from £1,800 to £,9000 (€2,022 to €10,112).

The 54 catalogued heifers for the sale averaged £3,092 (€3,474), with the second draft of 44 heifers averaging £2,111 (€2,371).

Overall, the 98 heifers and one Limousin stock bull averaged £2,668 (€2,997/head).

Top call

Top call went to the much-admired lot 55.

Bred by Welsh farmer Llyr Hughes and by the Irish-bred bull Derrygulliane KingBull, this heifer named Queen Bee had a long show career behind her, having been crowned calf champion at the Borderway Expo in 2018 and baby beef champion at the Welsh Winter Fair in 2018.

In-calf to Trueman Idol and due in February 2021, she was knocked down to Moneymore commercial fatstock producers Robert and Dianne Miller.

Lot 54 was the next-highest price at £5,500 (€6,179).

Lot 54 sold for £5,500.

This heifer was by Hodgestown Ian and was scanned in-calf with a heifer calf to an LM2014 son due to calve in June 2021.

Lot 11 was knocked down at £5,000 (€5,617).

She was by the Empire son Ballydownan Cassius Clay and was in-calf with a bull calf to Newhillfarm Mole due in June 2021.

Lot 53 sold for £5,000.

Meanwhile, £5,000 was also paid for lot 53, an Imperial De L’Ecluse-sired heifer in-calf to an LM2014 son carrying a heifer calf and due to calve in June 2021.

Seventeen heifers were exported south of the border, with 24 heading across the water to England, Scotland and Wales.

The Jalex herd will have another on-farm in-calf heifer sale in spring 2021.