A celebration of livestock over the next few weeks can only mean one thing; it’s show time.
Across the country producers are preparing some of the finest cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry for the annual exhibitions of stock in the run-up to the year-end celebrations.
Starting this weekend with the National Primestock Show & Sale at Stafford Showground (19/20 November) – closely followed by the Welsh Winter Fair, the Sottish Winter Fair and the plethora of mart and abattoir-based events – we can expect a spectacular show of stock through to Christmas.
To some observers, the heightened demand for beef, lamb, pork and poultry is all too short lived.
It does, however, have several key attributes – not least an ability to improve all-important income to the farm’s accounts as values rise (see Markets, starting p117, for up-to-date figures).
Less tangible, but equally essential, it brings with it for those who partake a sense of pride for a job done well.
Helping to feed a nation is all too often taken for granted in today’s world of international trade and fast shipping, as remarks one charismatic industry figure, but the quality of British livestock is often never better expressed than in the winter show ring.
For the stalwart supporters of the auction ring, a window display of prize-winning carcasses, rosettes and certificates in the front of small, independent butchers’ shops can help increase foot-fall during this vital sales period.
That may help alleviate some nervousness expressed in recent weeks on the re-introduction of OTM cattle and its impact on the beef trade after a nine-year exile following BSE; a welcome diversion indeed.
Despite the glitz, at the forefront of every producer, trader, processor and retailer’s mind should be the consumer.
These next few weeks of heightened interest in British Meat are an opportunity to reaffirm the superior quality of home-produced livestock and generate long-term loyalty among buyers.
Whatever your take, it is worth remembering the auctioneers’ rhetoric that quality always pays – week-in, week-out.
The next few weeks may be a period of concerted effort for year-end competitions, but it is an effort that can also be rewarded 52 weeks of the year.