19 November 1999

ABSENCE OF SMITHFIELD HELPS TO BOOST ENTRIES

WITH no Smithfield Show this year, entries for the Scottish National Winter Fair, sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland, are up on 1998 in all the main sections.

Organisers the Scottish National Fatstock Club are delighted that, despite the ongoing difficulties affecting all sectors of the agricultural industry, farmers are still determined to use the event as a showcase for the very best of Scotlands prime stock.

At Perth on Wednesday, Nov 25, a total of 448 cattle, sheep and pigs will be on show.

Adding the other classes for horses, roots, grain and silage brings the total entries for the winter fair to 1156, an increase of 64 on the year.

Cattle entries are up from last years 210 to 256, with the crossbred section, which normally produces the supreme champion, attracting 129 entries – an increase of 20 compared with 1998.

Sheep and pig numbers are also up to 152 (141 last year) and 40 (37).

The Scottish National Premier Meat Exhibition, sponsored by Marks & Spencer, continues to expand and is now a major part of the event. Animals are judged live at Perth and are then slaughtered at Scotbeefs Bridge of Allan plant, where the carcass judging takes place.

The competition was launched four years ago to promote the M&S Select Farms scheme. This year it has attracted a record 500 entries, with 278 cattle, 196 lambs and 26 pigs catalogued.

Horse numbers are down slightly on last year, mainly due to a fall in the entries for the Shetland pony classes. Even so, more than 120 animals, including 51 Clydesdales, will be on show.

The effect of the weather is evident in the grain competition. Wheat planting in Scotland fell dramatically last year, due to the cold, wet autumn. That is reflected in the entries, with numbers in the wheat class halved from last year. Again weather-related, more spring barley was sown in Scotland this year and the winter fair has 18 crops entered, up from 11 in 1998.