UTV’s Rare Breed farmers beat Eastenders in ratings war

Scott Lilburn and his brother are washing and packing potatoes in Craigavon, Co Armagh
Scott Lilburn and his brother are washing and packing potatoes in Craigavon, Co Armagh

The return of Rare Breed to UTV was the most watched programme in Northern Ireland at 8pm last night.

‘Rare Breed - A Farming Year’ had an average audience of 172,000 viewers and a 29% share, ahead of EastEnders on BBC NI which had 157,000 viewers and a 27% average share.

Michael and Norman Robson, Ballyclare, Co Antrim

Michael and Norman Robson, Ballyclare, Co Antrim

Looking ahead to the next episode on Tuesday (January 17) we are introduced to five farmers:

Tynan Roulston, a sixth generation farmer to run the 520 acre family farm with Aberdeen Angus cows in Bready, County Tyrone.

Giving him a helping hand over half term is his seven year-old son James, who Tynan is keen to take over and become the seventh generation.

Tynan speaks of the main challenges in farming – the weather: “We seem to get a lot of rain here, we’re between the hills, with Donegal on one side and the Sperrins on the other, ideally I would love to keep the cattle outside all year round but it’s just too wet.”

Tynan Roulston with son James in Bready, Co Tyrone

Tynan Roulston with son James in Bready, Co Tyrone

Outside Fivemiletown in Tyrone, Chris Johnston is on the road to scan his last batch of sheep for the season, 250 to do in total.

The heavy rain and floods have also had an effect on Chris getting to all his customers throughout the season. In the last 12 months, Chris will have covered 48,000 miles and scanned 22,000 sheep, Chris said: “The last batch of the year. I love to get starting them and love to get finishing them too, I might celebrate tonight.”

At the Robson Farm in Ballyclare, Antrim with bull sales just around the corner, Michael Robson is working around the clock with his pedigree Simmental bulls. The local vet is in giving the animals their final inspection to make sure they are fit before travelling to Sterling. In this episode we’ll hear if the Robson’s hard work pay off at the sales.

Scott Lilburn from Craigavon, Armagh is taking time out from his potatoes to work on his other business, tractor tuning. This business was set up in 2006 and now takes Scott and his brother across the UK and Ireland.

George Bingham, dairy herd in Templepatrick, Co Antrim

George Bingham, dairy herd in Templepatrick, Co Antrim

Scott explained: “I absolutely love it, gives us a break away from potato fields with something completely different. Lots of people get this done for various reasons because by increasing the horsepower of a tractor it means farmers can gain in fuel savings.”

Near Templepatrick in Antrim, it is an important day for dairy farmer, George Bingham as he checks the fertility of his dairy herd. George explains; “It’s an important process for any farmer. I need cows calving to have milk in the tank, it’s really as simple as that.”

UTV’s Mark McFadden narrates the series, sponsored by Dale Farm, Rare Breed – A Farming Year continues on Tuesday January 17 at 7.30pm on UTV.

Chris Johnston runs a beef herd near Fivemiletown in Co Tyrone

Chris Johnston runs a beef herd near Fivemiletown in Co Tyrone