Royal Welsh Show exhibitors take precautions in blistering heat

Livestock farmers showing animals at the Royal Welsh Show have praised the organisers for taking sensible precautions in the heat.

The showground was baking in temperatures of 35C (95F) on Monday (18 July), the first day of the four-day event at Llanelwedd, near Builth Wells, Powys – one of the biggest agricultural shows in Europe.

It is too early to say whether the very hot weather – with Monday now officially the hottest day on record in Wales – has had a significant impact on visitor numbers. But walkways around the showground were busy, if not bustling, with activity.

See also: Q&A: Royal Welsh Show’s new head on Welsh farming and the event

Many visitors were taking precautions to ensure they did not wilt in the heat, such as wearing light clothes, sunglasses and Panama hats, drinking water regularly and taking regular breaks in the shade where it could be found.

Exhibitor Jessica Simms had travelled down from Northwich, Cheshire, to show her Limousin heifers. She told Farmers Weekly she was “very pleased” to secure a second and a third place in the competitions.

Extended times

Ms Simms thanked the show organisers for taking steps to ensure her cattle were treated well.

“They opened the gates here at 7am on Saturday [16 July] and extended it until 10pm to allow us to travel early in the morning or at night, when it is cooler,” she said.

Exhibitor Jessica Simms with Limousin heifer

Jessica Simms © Philip Case

“The cattle are absolutely fine. They are getting through the judging quite quickly so that you can get them back in the store quickly and with the fans.”

Ms Simms said she was making use of the wash basins outside the sheds to water her cattle regularly and keep them cool. They also have access to drinking water.

Fresh from winning Male Champion Reserve Overall at the Great Yorkshire Show, pedigree Limousin bull Upperffrydd Power travelled down overnight from Ulverston, Cumbria, on Friday (15 July).

The three-year-old was bought out of Carlisle 18 months ago for 2,500gns by owner Thor Atkinson.

At the Royal Welsh Show, Upperffrydd Power won the Senior Bull Class, then Champion Male, then Overall Champion.

Pedigree Limousin bull Upperffrydd Power

Pedigree Limousin bull Upperffrydd Power © Philip Case

Mr Atkinson celebrated double success at the Royal Welsh on Monday after his British Blonde cow, Brownhill Netta, was named British Blonde Champion and Interbreed Champion – a week after winning Champion British Blonde and Interbreed Champion at the Great Yorkshire Show.

Mr Atkinson said it was the first time that a British Blonde had ever won both interbreed titles at the Royal Welsh Show and Great Yorkshire Show in the same year.

Howell Williams, from Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, from the team exhibiting Mr Atkinson’s cows, said: “The cattle are used to travelling about and are used to being in a show environment.

“They go straight from the storeroom into the showring and back. The cattle are not too bad. They don’t hang around in the ring too long after judging and they have plenty of water here.”

Sheep farmers pleased

Sheep farmers said they were very grateful to the organisers for their recent investment in a new, large fanning system in the sheep sheds.

Adam Daniel farms in partnership with his father-in-law and brother-in law at Morfa Nefyn, in the Lleyn Peninsula in north Wales. They won first place in the Lleyn sheep shearling ewes competition.

Sheep farmer Adam Daniel with one of his winning Lleyn sheep

Sheep farmer Adam Daniel with one of his winning Lleyn sheep © Philip Case

Mr Daniel, who travelled to the show with Abner, his one-year-old son, said: “We started at 9am on Monday, so it hasn’t been too bad. We’re keeping our boy in the shade and he’s drinking plenty of water. He’s fine.”

Beef and sheep farmer Kevin Bowman, from Swansea Valley, was showing Black Welsh Mountain and Herdwick sheep. He said: “The sheep have been here since Saturday. The fans they have put in have been exceptional.

“They have also been taking 20min breaks between judging the rams first, then the ewes, which has been great.”

But Richard Price, a senior steward in the sheep sector, said: “We are only just coping. It’s very, very hot.

“They have looked after the sheep very well. Fair play to them. The sheep are better off than us judges in here!”

Precautions in place to safeguard visitors and exhibitors

The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS) said the society is working in partnership with the Met Office, Dwr Cymru, Public Health Wales, Wales’ chief veterinary officer, the local authority and emergency services to ensure that the show is a great success, despite the predicted weather.

It was also taking additional precautions and working hard with partners to mitigate the risks of heat and improve the safety of people and animals.

Many of the livestock buildings have ceiling fans installed by the society, some of which have been updated ahead of this years’ show, costing more than £50,000.

An RWAS spokeswoman said: “Numerous provisions are also being made within the livestock section. Additional water will be available, and fans have been installed in all the livestock buildings with new upgraded fans in the most vulnerable areas.

“Arrival times for livestock have been amended in order to welcome stock in the early morning and late evenings, to avoid queues at the hottest times of the day.

“Temperatures in the livestock buildings will be monitored continuously, to support real-time decisions. Consideration will also be given to class timings, which can be changed if necessary.”

Society vets will be on call during the event for any veterinary assistance, with stewards also on hand to help with any issues that may occur.