THE good news is that sheep will again be featured in the competitive stock classes at this years Royal Show. The RASE had previously excluded sheep from the show because of the financial and other consequences that would follow if just one of the sheep at the showground exhibited symptoms similar to foot-and-mouth.
This would have meant closing down the show, leaving the RASE with financial losses totalling up to £5m, and it would also have resulted in immensely damaging publicity about the UKs disease status, the RASE explained.
Since the decision was announced at the beginning of May, representatives of the National Sheep Association (NSA), the NFU and DEFRA have held a series of meetings with the RASE to draw up a formula that would enable the sheep classes to go ahead with special safeguards to reduce the risk of disease-like symptoms appearing at the show. Under the terms of the agreement, sheep will be at the NAC for the last two days of the show only, and they will go through two special veterinary screening procedures before being admitted.
For the other livestock classes it is business as usual for the breeders and exhibitors following a year when competitive showing was almost completely eliminated from the farming calendar.
Entries for the cattle classes total about 1100 animals, and there are about 240 in the pig classes plus a further 675 for the poultry and waterfowl competitions. NatWest Bank plus Marks & Spencer are the principal sponsors.
The programme for the cattle entries culminates in the judging for the prestigious Burke Trophy and NatWest Supreme Interbreed Champions.