INDIVIDUAL SHEEP identification proved a complete failure at this year‘s Royal Show, with stewards unable to identify the owners of the carcasses in the prime lamb competition.

The competition‘s format sees the pens of three lambs judged live and then one of them is slaughtered and the carcass judged.

All lambs had been tagged twice, once with a tag issued by the show and once with a tag from their holdings of birth, meaning they had two forms of individual identification.

But officials failed to record the tag numbers at slaughter, an error which exhibitors described as “a ridiculous situation which should never have been possible”.

It meant that when the carcasses were returned to the showground no one knew whose was whose.

Stewards for the class were left red-faced when forced to explain to exhibitors what had happened.

With no clue as to which carcass went with which live lamb, they were unable to allocate prize money for the competition.

The prize money was eventually split between all exhibitors.

But the farce didn‘t end there, as without any knowledge of the carcass owners, the income from the auction sale of the carcasses also had to be split between the exhibitors.

“The exhibitors of the champion and reserve champion carcasses could be hundreds of pounds worse off,” said one exhibitor, who declined to be named.