Farmer Focus Livestock: Murray Garrett enjoys Okehampton show

On 13 August saw a dry and hot Okehampton Show. Rather ironically after two cancelled years due to rain, the 102nd show, held in the shadow of Dartmoor, was probably the driest one-day event to have taken place in the West Country this year.

Father had put in a lot of time and effort to revive the South Devon cattle classes after an absence of some decades. His labours were well rewarded by a strong line-up of animals topped by Roger Rundle’s exceptional cow Kestle Dahlia 46. Further vindication came when Dahlia went on to take the Supreme Beef Championship matching her achievement of the day before at Camelford. What is more, contrary to local folklore, I saw all the South Devon cattle leave the showground in good health despite their day spent north of the A30.

Early August has seen us successfully combine and crimp 15 acres of winter wheat, which now sits safely clamped in the barn. As feed cereal prices stand at the moment, this looks like a cost-effective strategy. Time will tell.

I had been encouraged to send some slaughter bulls out of the south west recently. A prolonged wait for the grading sheets, dreadful killing-out percentages and disappointing grades mean I will not be in a hurry to repeat the experience. Although the abattoir concerned uses independent MLC graders, one of the animals registered a KO% of only 35%. This was so clearly a mistake that I challenged it and it was rectified (although the U grade bull still only achieved a meagre 51%). How many of us diligently check our deadweight returns and would notice smaller discrepancies? This also prompts me to ask how much longer we must be forced to wait for a less subjective form of carcass appraisal.

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