Judging creates a storm

Judges at this year’s Staffordshire County Show had something in common with referees officiating at the football World Cup – their decisions were often challenging, and sometimes created controversy.

Top talking point was local judge Peter Bird’s decision to award the sheep championship to a minority breed.

Robert Price’s Kerry Hill shrearling ram from the Pentrenant flock pipped the widely favoured Suffolk ewe lamb from Tom Cox.
Mr Bird was clearly aware his choice may have been controversial.

“The shearling ram is sharp and just looks a picture,” he told onlookers.

“There wasn’t a lot in it, but it’s the judge’s decision.”

And that decision certainly pleased Mr Price, of Churchstoke, Powys, who has just 30 breeding ewes and bought the champion as a ram lamb from noted breeder J & P Owens of Shobden, Leominster.

It was left to dairy judge Jim Irvine of Cornhill-on-Tweed to decide the overall dairy championship.

He eventually favoured Tom and Andy Cope’s 2000-born Holstein cow Shanael Gelpro Melody over a Shorthorn in second and Jersey in third.

“It is this cow’s overall balance that does it for me,” sais Mr Irvine.

“She’s a complete, exceptional cow with a good udder and just correct all the way through.”

The former Royal Show class winner and now third calver was purchased three years ago at the HUKI sale.

“She’s now heading for the Royal,” said Tom Cope.

Another decision to raise an eyebrow or two came in the beef championship when judge and former Simmental breeder Robert Lunness – who dispersed the noted Brinkton herd several years ago – picked out a daughter of the sire Brinkton Winchester for the title.

At eight years old, Atlow Valentine was clear proof that longevity still appeals. Exhibited by David and Susan Donnelly of Ashbourne, Derbys, this home-bred fifth calver had taken the interbreed championship at Newark Show a few weeks earlier in what is expected to be her last season on the circuit.

While most stock was exhibited within the show site’s Bingley Hall and neighbouring indoor complex, pig handlers were grateful for use of a shaded and airy paddock for their championship, which was taken by the third parity Berkshire sow from Tracey Bretherton of Westby, Lancashire.