Farmer Focus: Are livestock shows in need of an update?

We were finally treated to a bit of sunshine in mid-June. Much of the month was not very warm. After the spring we have had, we will take what we get.

Shearing has been plodding along. I decided to leave some bunches of sheep for later to allow better lifting of the fleece, and subsequently easier and better shearing.

I really like shorn sheep. I can look at them every day for months.

See also: Farmer Focus: Would it be hypocritical to continue judging?

About the author

James and Belinda Kimber
Livestock Farmer Focus writers James and Belinda farm 850 commercial and pedigree sheep and 30 pedigree Simmental and Charolais cattle in Wiltshire across 95ha (45ha owned). James also runs a foottrimming business and Belinda has a B&B.
Read more articles by James and Belinda Kimber

The early lambs have nearly all gone at pretty good money – 410p/kg liveweight at Worcester.

I sent quite a lot at lighter weights, some down at 35kg to get them away before the inevitable price drop. We all hope it only drops to a level where we can remain profitable. 

Predictions around breeding sheep sales seem to be splitting into two camps.

On the one hand, people understandably expect sheep to be “very dear”. On the other hand, commercial farmers do not feel they can afford expensive sheep.

The best of the spring’s high prices were taking advantage of the store lamb buyers remember, not the lambing enterprises.

Following on from Ben Harman’s article a couple of weeks ago, I also believe that the beauty pageant of pampered bovines and ovines that is the show scene must evolve.

That said, I could debate a few things with Ben, I’m sure.

As a dairy judge (27 or more years ago), the production inspection class – which used milk production figures from milk recording – was the most important class.

How do we get something similar in beef? Do we trust estimated breeding values (EBV)?

In some countries, EBVs are hung around the neck. But the beauty pageant specialist will never want production figures involved.

We are going down the route of being answerable to the accountant and taxman, and we need to make a profit.

Efficient beef production has got to be based on more information, not aesthetics.

Breed societies and show culture must change. Investment in feed efficiency trials and testing seems to be as good a way forward as any.

I’ve been made vice-chairman of the British Charolais Cattle Society (quite an honour), so I am left with thoughts on revolution or evolution.