As many of you may well already be aware last week’s Royal Highland Show sheep section was dominated by talk of short tails and sheep possibly being excluded from the event for being inappropriately docked.
I resisted the urge to make mention of this matter until now so as not to detract from the achievements of last week’s winners. But now the show is over it is perhaps appropriate to talk about the issue.
Every sheep arriving at Ingliston last week was, at some point, inspected by Animal Health vets who compiled a list of those sheep with insufficient tail length. By the end of their two days of inspection they had a list of 45 sheep from 25 exhibitors. So, all in all a fairly small minority of the 1600 entries. However, it won’t surprise many of you to know that these sheep came from some of the biggest names in a number of high profile breeds.
Negotiations between the show, exhibitors and Animal Health resulted in those sheep on “the list” being allowed into the show rings, but with the warning that there would likely be an on-farm inspection in the coming weeks.
The upshot of all of this is that exhibitors at the Highland and a number of other shows have been warned that short tails will not be accepted at shows. As indeed they were earlier in the year in the pages of FW and other farming publications as the result of a press release from Animal Health.
I think the best tale (excuse the pun) I’ve heard this year is one class at a south west showing being recorded as “class dismissed” as the judges had been instructed not to award prizes to sheep with short tails – every sheep in the class had a short tail!
All in all it seems the rules, which have after all been in place for a good many years now, are being enforced a little more stringently than they have been in recent years. The simple answer then is that if you have a sheep with a short tail don’t take it to a show or anywhere else it will be seen.