24 May 2002

Bath & West bounces back

After a virtual no-show year, the agricultural show season is back in full swing.

Peter Grimshaw previews next weeks Bath and West show

Cattle and pigs lead stock back

ONLY time can tell what effect the foot-and-mouth crisis has had upon the Bath and Wests great tradition of showing the best of livestock in competitive classes under the public gaze. There will be no sheep this year, and 46% fewer cattle than 2000, while pig numbers are down by exactly half. But the 420 cattle and 133 pigs that will be there are a giant step in the right direction.

Chief cattle steward Mike Lyons, of Manor Farm, St Anthony in Roseland, Cornwall, is optimistic that numbers will continue to increase, but he admits that it will take time. "People were finding it difficult to show even before F&M," he points out. "Some are still wary about coming out, after all they suffered through the disease."

The 20-day isolation rule has added to livestock exhibitors problems, he says. "But were very grateful to those exhibitors who are coming, and well work with them to make the show as successful as possible."

Beef breeders in particular need to show the calibre of their animals, especially bulls, and he says dairy cattle are also best seen ranged alongside their peers from other herds.

Last years cancellation of the event prompted a £640,000 loss and redundancy for a third of the workforce, explains show administrator Paul Hooper.