A chance to see stock at its best

Behind the scenes preparations for this year’s Primestock Show have already benefited exhibitors and visitors in unexpected ways.

The Staffordshire and Birmingham Agricultural Society (SBAS) has invested in new IAE temporary stalls in preparation for this year’s event, explains Richard Williams, SBAS chief executive.

This will enable an increased entry in several livestock classes.

“Shortly after the arrival of the stalls we answered a request to help one of Scotland’s leading agricultural shows by lending some of the new equipment to improve facilities.

It will be back in time for the Primestock. It’s all part of a spirit of co-operation we are happy to support.”

Closer to home, the National Primestock Show and Sale will boast more awards this year.

Reflecting interest in native and rare breeds of cattle, sheep and pigs, new prizes have been introduced for carcass classes in the purpose-built refrigerated carcass hall.

Organisers hope to improve this year’s entry of beef, lamb and pig carcasses by displaying judges’ remarks alongside winning tickets for visitors to peruse.

In the Food Hall, where traditionally the Birmingham Butchers Association holds its annual produce competition on Sunday, will be the British Pig Association promoting native breeds to both consumers and butchers attending this year’s event.

According to Marcus Bates, BPA chief executive, interest in native breeds is buoyant.

“It’s a real opportunity for local, independent butchers to create a point of difference from larger retail outlets.

Indications from retail level suggest there continues to be an increase in consumer interest in supporting locally-sourced meat and a proliferation of small, native pig herds can help meet that demand.”

The show is once again sponsored by Agco, Agri Lloyd International, auctioneers, breed societies, and — new for 2005 — specialist promotion body the Traditional Breeds Meat Marketing Co.

“We are once again very grateful to all our sponsors for the demonstration of support.

It is also pleasing to note that demand for trade stand space has once again been high with new businesses looking to attend each year,” says Mr Williams.

There are practical changes for exhibitors at this year’s event.

A new computerised electronic weighing-in system for cattle is being trialled alongside the conventional paper-based system with the hope of introducing it in full next year.

Mark Elliott of auctioneers Bagshaws of Uttoxeter – which conducts the auction of carcasses and prize-winning stock on the Sunday afternoon – says the system has already proved itself outside the show arena.

“A similar system is currently in place in one of our markets and it should work well here.

Weighing in should be a lot smoother in future.”

Sheep classes will also see changes with a new weight band split in the live/dead lamb competition.

The live classes will be split into the bands 90-120kg and 120-149kg to accommodate the high number of entries.

Cattle and sheep classes begin on Saturday and include the judging of the chilled carcass section.

A special award will be announced on Sunday for the best Staffs-based exhibitor at the show ahead of the Grand Parade.

Continuing a desire to support young peoples’ interest in farming, this year’s event hosts the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs carcass judging finals on Sunday.

Julia Taylor, Staffs county organiser, says all regional heats had been strongly contested.

“Finalists from the qualifying counties have been brushing up on their technique ahead of the final and soon their knowledge will be put to the ultimate test.”

Adding a festive element to the show, the ever-popular dressed and long-legged turkey classes will this year be judged by Roy Wakefield, butchery manager of Scropton, Derby-based Cranberry Foods (a supplier to Asda).

Tying in the main livestock events with the show’s Christmas Fayre retail area, cookery demonstrations featuring jointing, dressing and cooking festive dishes made with British turkey have been planned.

“A turkey shouldn’t be just for Christmas but for many enjoyable meals thereafter with a little preparation,” says Mr Wakefield.

A crowded ringside is guaranteed for the parade of prize-winning stock and when Bagshaws Auctioneers undertake the auction of award-winning stock on Sunday starting at 12pm with the dressed turkeys.

“We hope exhibitors and visitors will enjoy the improvements and additions to this year’s schedule, helping promote the best of British livestock once again,” says Mr Williams.